As a Brearley student cultivates skills in reasoning and self-expression, deeper insight into the meaning of wellness is developed. This aspect of education starts with the Lower School course “Respect and Responsibility,” continues through the Middle School advisory program, and culminates in the advisory, health and seminar programs of the Upper School. The three unifying social emotional learning themes of citizenship, self-care and purpose are fostered across the divisions.
Overall, Brearley students are encouraged to have “a healthy mind in a healthy body.” The School recognizes that providing a comprehensive sexual health education is essential for our students to ensure their well-being, sound development, and full understanding of their bodies and how to keep them healthy and safe. Therefore, the School has adopted the framework of Our Whole Lives (OWL), the K-XII sexuality health education curriculum, for all three divisions.
In the Lower School (K–IV), students in OWL classes receive developmentally appropriate information about babies and the birth process, families, personal health and safety, and bodies and puberty. Additionally, in Respect and Responsibility classes, students have lessons in self-awareness (identifying and speaking about feelings, recognizing strengths, improving self-confidence); self-management (setting goals, sharpening organizational skills); social awareness (gaining perspective, increasing empathy, appreciating diversity); relationship skills (communication, teamwork); and responsible decision-making (identifying and solving problems, analyzing situations, taking responsibility).
In the Middle School (V–VIII), students are taught in OWL about puberty, gender, consent and peer pressure; receive lessons in science on anatomy and physiology of the reproductive system; and participate in conversations with Advisors on topics such as social media use and stress reduction. Beginning in Class VII and continuing into Upper School, the Freedom from Chemical Dependency organization runs student and parent workshops on substance abuse.
In the Upper School (IX–XII), Class IX participates in a trimester-long health course and meets weekly for informal discussions on social-emotional topics with Peer Leaders selected from Class XII. Beginning in Class X, students are in touch regularly with their Advisors about academic and personal decisions and fulfill a community service requirement. Sophomore Seminar offers instruction in health and wellness, public speaking, service leadership, and college application readiness. These and other topics are reinforced in Junior and Senior Seminars, where students meet with the Counseling and Wellness Department for class discussions on mental health, with the College Advisors on college plans, and with outside experts in medicine, substance abuse, and sexuality.