Social and emotional learning (SEL) is a process that helps students acquire self-awareness, social awareness, responsible decision-making, and prosocial skills. These skills are essential for academic and social success, and they can be taught in a variety of settings, including schools, homes, and communities.
When students learn to recognize their feelings and those of others, manage stress, and develop positive relationships with peers and adults, they experience increased motivation to succeed in school.
Some people might argue that SEL is not essential for academic success. However, there is a growing body of research indicating that SEL skills are as important as cognitive skills for academic advancement.
SEL not only helps students succeed academically but also protects them from social and health-risk behaviors, such as substance abuse, violence, teen pregnancy, school dropout, and bullying. Unfortunately for early adolescents – those most in need of these skills – current education approaches are typically devoid of specific SEL content.
Why Has This Become an Important Topic of Education?
In April 2012, the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) – a national non-profit organization dedicated to promoting SEL in K-12 education – published a report titled “Beyond the Gates: Why Schools must include social and emotional learning.” The report was co-authored by Dr. David Caruso, a recognized leader in the field of SEL. In his work on adolescent development, Caruso has found that students with high levels of academic engagement also have high levels of social and emotional skills.
The report states: “While there is broad consumer awareness about the value of financial literacy skills to help children achieve economic security as adults, there is no parallel awareness of the need for SEL skills to help children achieve emotional security while they are still in school. This represents a huge opportunity for schools.”
The report highlights four key messages on why SEL should be seen as an integral part of public education. They include:
1) No single program will fix all the social and emotional problems faced by students.
2) SEL programs should be systemic and embedded in the regular school day.
3) Teachers need adequate training to deliver SEL programs effectively.
4) Evaluation of SEL programs is important to ensure that they are effective.
What Does This Mean for Education Platforms?
Education platforms should consider including social and emotional learning modules in their curricula. This would not only help students succeed academically but also protect them from social and health-risk behaviors.
It is important for education platforms to include SEL content that is age-appropriate. While at first, this might seem challenging, it is important to remember that even the youngest children are exposed to SEL content on a daily basis. The key is to make sure that the content is appropriate and delivered in a way that is engaging for students.
For early adolescents, this may include teaching students how to manage emotions, recognize feelings, and develop positive relationships with peers and adults. Early adolescents are still learning how to regulate their emotions, so they need guidance in understanding what is happening when they get upset. This way, they can learn to take responsibility for their actions – which could affect not only themselves but also their peers. It’s important that students learn the difference between using emotions and having them.
7 Ways Teachers Can Teach This Subject Effectively
Teachers are well-positioned to help students develop the social and emotional skills they need to be successful in school and beyond. Here are seven suggestions on how to teach SEL effectively:
1) Create a safe and supportive environment in the classroom.
2) Teach social and emotional skills explicitly.
3) Be a role model for students.
4) Teach mindfulness.
5) Model resiliency skills.
6) Teach self-awareness through stories and group activities.
7) Practice restorative justice in the classroom.
How Children Benefit From Social and Emotional Learning
A lack of self-awareness can interfere with a child’s ability to learn, socialize, participate in-class activities, and manage stress. When children have strong social-emotional skills they can:
1) Express their feelings appropriately.
2) Excel academically.
3) Make good decisions for themselves and others.
4) Handle stress in a healthy manner.
5) Establish positive relationships with others.
6) Cooperate and get along with others.
7) Problem solve effectively.
8) Be self-motivated.
9) Regulate their emotions.
10) Have empathy for others.
Social and emotional skills should be a part of primary education in order to help students succeed in the long run. There are several strong arguments for why SEL is important, and its benefits to the overall health and wellbeing of students are clear. And when education platforms add social and emotional learning modules to their content, this adds value not only to their service but also to society as a whole.
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