Social Emotional Learning at Pine Village Preschool

Since the creation of Pine Village Preschool 2001 in Brighton, the founders, Emma LaVecchia and Brid Martin were aware of the important role social emotional wellbeing played in the education of children.

Coming from a Family Childcare background they knew that creating a loving holding environment for the children and a strong bond between parents and school were key elements in nurturing the healthy development of children.

Having opened 8 more schools during the last 10 years these principles have been solidified and are the foundation of the social emotional philosophy at Pine Village. Pine Village has created a program that emphasis the importance of emotional intelligence for directors, teachers, children and parents.

This program includes learning about and incorporating all of the Emotional Intelligence competencies and elements of the Conscious Discipline Program and Mindfulness principles in support of early childhood education.

Wellbeing has many aspects that contribute to everyday life in the 21st century. Most importantly it helps people to handle, learn and manage their emotions and stress levels. We all benefit from learning how to use our emotions in constructive rather than destructive ways.

In promoting this vision in the daily life of our schools, we ALL will realize the potential to have self-composure, manage stress and anger and build self-confidence, resilience and improve the quality of our relationships with others. We will engage in more empathic, honest, transparent, assertive and loving kindness interactions with each other.

It has been a wonderful creative journey thus far. In 2014 Marina Ituarte moved into the role of Community Director and in 2017 Peggy Kuhs joined Marina as our Social Emotional Coach to support all 10 schools, 10 directors and 120 teachers.

A key component of the program is fostering self-awareness
and openness to learning new skills that will directly benefit the lives of
directors, teachers and naturally be passed onto children. We have emphasized
the importance of self-care and well-being for educators by offering
professional development and opportunities for practice on these skills. When
we take care of ourselves we are ready to model and spread joy within our own
families and the school family.

What is Conscious

Conscious Discipline is a comprehensive classroom management program and a social
emotional curriculum, it is based on current brain research, child development
information and developmentally appropriate practice. It starts with the adult
and helps them to develop awareness about how internal emotional states dictate
behavior, build connections and create a positive climate between school and
home. It provides adults with the seven skills needed to effectively transform
any problem into an opportunity for learning. These
seven skills are:

1.- Composure: Being the person you want your children to become.

2.- Encouragement: Building the school family

3.- Empathy: handling challenging behaviors

4.- Choices: Building Self-esteem and willpower

5.- Assertiveness: Setting limits respectfully

6.- Positive Intent: Creating teaching moments

7.- Consequences: Helping children to learn from their mistakes

What is Social Emotional Learning?

Social and emotional learning is the process through which children and adults
acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes and skills necessary to
understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show
empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make
responsible decisions. These skills are:

  1. Self-Awareness: A child’s realistic
    understanding of his/her strengths and limitations and consistent desire for self-improvement.
  2. Self-Management: A child’s success in
    controlling his or her emotions and behaviors, to complete a task or succeed in
    a new or challenging situation.
  3.  Social Awareness: A child’s capacity to
    interact with others in a way that shows respect for their ideas and behaviors,
    recognizes his/her impact on them, and uses cooperation and tolerance in social
  4. Relationship Skills: A child’s consistent
    performance of socially acceptable actions that promote and maintain positive
    connections with others.
  5. Goal-Directed Behavior: A child’s initiation of,
    and persistence in completing, tasks of varying difficulty.
  6. Personal Responsibility: A child’s tendency to
    be careful and reliable in his/her actions and in contributing to group
  7. Decision Making: A child’s approach to problem
    solving that involves learning from others and from his/her own previous
    experiences, using his/her values to guide his/her actions, and accepting
    responsibility for her/his decisions.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a way of paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, nonjudgmentally. It is available to people at any moment, it does not require a special place to practice, it is just a time to pause and pay attention to yourself, to be present, and gives you the opportunity to train your mind to be more sensitive and emphatic. Mindfulness is noticing what is happening right here, right now. When you notice what is happening within yourself and around you it offers the possibility to pause and choose how to respond rather than react from an unconscious automatic and habitual way. This practice interrupts the usual pattern of responding from an impulsive place and opens up the possibility of making better informed and more conscious choices.

All of these practices together give our teachers the opportunity to connect with, care for, educate and nurture the children in a healthy learning environment. It opens the door to seeing the children’s challenges and strengths, and enables them to succeed and reach goals, both big and small. Pine Village is a family that includes parents, children and educators all working towards the same goals of raising strong, independent, caring, socially aware human beings who are capable of leading meaningful, happy and productive lives. We could not do this work without all members of the family involved in the process.

* Please see the links in the text above for more information about each of these areas. You can also learn more at the following websites:

Conscious Discipline:

Social Emotional Learning:


Fall 2019 Info Sessions

Fall is here and we are excited to announce our upcoming info sessions at each of our 10 locations throughout the Boston area!

Join us at one or more of our Pine Village Preschool locations to learn about our Spanish immersion programs and tour the classrooms. Hear from our directors and teachers about developmentally appropriate practices and our social/emotional curriculum.


All information sessions start promptly at 6:30pm

Brighton: Thu. Oct. 17th. 402 Western Ave Brighton, MA 02135

Brookline: Wed. Oct. 16th. 15 St. Paul Street Brookline, MA 02446

JP Revere: Tue. Oct. 22nd. 8 Revere St. Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

JP South: Wed. Oct. 30th. 57 South St. Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

Kendall Square: Tue. Oct. 29th. 695 W. Kendall St. Cambridge, MA 02142

Needham: Wed. Oct. 23rd. 65 Fourth Ave. Needham, MA 02494

Newton Highlands: Thu. Nov. 7th. 54 Lincoln St. Newton Highlands, MA 02461

Porter Square: Thu. Oct. 24th. 2067 Massachusetts Ave. Cambridge, MA 02140

South End: Thu. Oct. 10th. 700 Harrison Ave. Boston, MA 02118

West Newton Tue. Oct. 29th. 1326 Washington St. West Newton, MA 02465

For more information email or call (617) 416 – 7763.

Pine Village Preschool Goes to Mexico!

This past June, Brid Martin, Marina Ituarte, Peggy Kuhs and I, Emma Lavecchia, had the incredible opportunity to travel to Mexico and represent Pine Village Preschool at two amazing events.  The spirit of our visit was centered on the work we do around Social Emotional Learning in early childhood, and sharing the methods we use at Pine Village to support children’s emotional well-being and growth.  We thought we would share our experience today on the blog!

Our Pine Village Social Emotional Learning (SEL) team which consists of Marina Ituarte and Peggy Kuhs, submitted a proposal to present, and were selected to share our work at a conference of educators at the City Universidad Iberoamericana, in Mexico City.  The conference participants consisted of those who are spearheading the SEL initiative in Mexico, educators and other leaders in the Dept of Education in Mexico.

Peggy and Marina created a presentation
describing the work our PVP educators have created to make their classrooms
rich in emotional support and learning. They showcased the techniques we use in
our classrooms, as well as our training procedures and the progress we have
made in developing our SEL program. 

This was an incredible opportunity
to meet and learn from others who are passionate about social emotional
education and to form alliances with partners in our field within the Spanish
culture that makes Pine Village so special. 
We were received with open arms and held in high regard, making
connections that will support continued collaboration in years to come.

In the days after the conference we had the amazing opportunity to meet with the Dean of the Dept of Education at the University, Hilda Patiño Domínguez and had an exciting conversation about the work we do in Boston at Pine Village, and potential ways we can collaborate in learning and professional development for our staff.  The University has programs in California where their teaching students complete practicums and work in schools that support their programs.  We spoke about exchange programs and sharing practicum opportunities among other exciting possibilities.  We’re looking forward to sharing all of these amazing new opportunities as we continue our planning together.

Later, in our 6-day whirlwind tour, we traveled north, to Queretaro, where we visited an incredible school called Evergreen.  Yes, there are so many similarities in our programs including the names of our schools.  Evergreen is a ground breaking private school that has been touted as one of the best schools in the world that supports mindfulness, social emotional learning and a high quality of education for children preschool to middle school.  

More on our Evergreen experience in the next Blog…there is so much to share about that visit! 

Needless to say our trip was incredible, educational, emotional, inspiring and simply a gift we will hold close in our hearts and minds forever.  Brid and I know the amazing ripple effects of these experiences in Mexico will impact our offering at Pine Village in the short-term but also in the long-term as we continue to grow and evolve.

We  look forward to sharing more with you in the weeks to come!