As time progresses and generations pass, new waves of research and curriculum make their way into the school system. One such subject is SEL—Social Emotional Learning. Although SEL isn’t brand new, it has gained momentum in recent years and is now becoming an important part of curriculum in schools. But what is it and why is it so important?
Social Emotional Learning is the process of learning social and emotional skills. Lessons that incorporate SEL teach children how to understand and manage their emotions, how to set and achieve positive goals, how to recognize what they’re feeling and show empathy for others, how to establish and maintain positive relationships, and how to make responsible decisions. All these skills fall into five core aspects of SEL: Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, Relationship Skills, Responsible Decision-Making. The reason SEL is so important is because it teaches children skills that will support them in their personal growth, in their academics, in their relationships, and more.
Research shows that students who are socially and emotionally competent do better academically, have better attitudes and behavior both at home and in school, make and keep friends more easily, are 50% more likely to graduate high school, and twice as likely to graduate from college. This domino effect continues into their adult life and they are more likely to begin and grow in a successful career and family.
At COA Elementary, SEL has become a part of the curriculum and is woven into every day’s lesson plans. Teachers start off every day by sharing “Good Things”, allowing students the opportunity for students to share out exciting things going on in their lives. Right from the first interaction, students are given the chance to practice their social and emotional skills. The aspects of CKH also help students manage their behavior through Hand Signals, and the Four Questions (1. “What are you doing?” 2. “What are you supposed to be doing?” 3. “Are you doing it?” 4. “What are you going to do about it?”). Teachers give students the opportunity to work in groups and independently. Students participate in virtual Character Assemblies, learning all about positive traits like “integrity” and “courage”.
Parents can also help foster the social and emotional growth of their children at home. They can implement certain aspects of CKH at home to help their children with behavior management. They can model empathy and kindness by looking for ways to be helpers in the community. They can have a daily sharing time—whether at dinner time or bedtime, whenever is most convenient, everyone can take a turn answering a question, for example, “What was the best/worst part of your day?”
Teaching children social and emotional skills and allowing them the opportunity to practice the fundamentals of SEL will help them be successful in their personal growth and in their relationships today and in the future. After all, “educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.” – Aristotle
Student Support Specialist