The Synapse Program

The Synapse program at Seattle Country Day School is a social and emotional learning (SEL) program infused with diversity, equity, and inclusion concepts. Synapse is a cornerstone of the student experience for every child at SCDS, and it is a key element in an excellent, 21st-century education.

Although Synapse is effective in addressing the immediate needs of gifted children, whose often-intense natures create challenges related to self-esteem, compromise, and conflict resolution, it also has another, longer-term purpose. Over the course of nine years, the school’s Synapse curriculum helps students more thoroughly understand themselves, their family and friends, and their society — allowing them to become better learners, more well-rounded people, and more thoughtful citizens.

At SCDS, we use Synapse and other curricula to help students value different worldviews, diverse perspectives, and divergent ways of thinking — and to appreciate the creativity and innovation that occurs when a diverse group of people interact and solve problems.

There is an ethical component to this work, a desire to help remedy inequities. There is also a deeply practical component: We want to prepare students for success in a challenging, interesting, and ever-more-diverse society.

Synapse educates children in four foundational SEL concepts, ones inextricably linked to DEI: self-knowledge or self-awareness, social relationships, celebration of self-identity and others' identities, and social awareness.

Below is a brief overview of the Synapse curriculum for SCDS’s schools (divisions). Like other academic curricula, Synapse helps students build on the skills they already learned in their previous division, while also learning new ones.

Lower School, Grades K–3. Students learn about their own identify and that of others, come to embrace their strengths and challenges, build relationships with one another, identify, and regulate their emotions, celebrate the diversity in their community, and build awareness of historic and local social issues.

Intermediate School, Grades 4–5. Students learn the neuroscience behind emotions and participate in group activities that foster cooperative leadership, friendship, and communication skills. Students also delve into the interpersonal impact of inequity and learn about digital citizenship and internet safety.

Middle School, Grades 6–8. Students continue to explore identity, empathy, and the role of technology in their lives. They also examine systems of inequality, personal agency, and ways to be agents of change.


For resources related to social and emotional learning and other topics related to raising gifted children, please visit the Just for Parents page


Two Kindergarten Boys Play at Recess
Ms. Ayala and Students Discuss a Spanish Exercise
Two Middle School Girls Team Up in Tech Class