Social and Emotional Learning, or SEL for short, is the teaching and development of the skills needed to manage big feelings, form relationships, gain self awareness, solve problems, make responsible choices, and set goals. SEL also focuses on open communication and empathy. There are five major components to social emotional learning: self awareness, self management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making. Other important concepts include cooperation skills and a growth mindset.
There are many reasons why SEL is important to a child’s development and growth as a human being. The first reason is academic performance. Children work hard to focus on schoolwork, and it is important that they are comfortable, happy, and emotionally well rounded in order to perform to the best of their ability. Emotionally stable children have less behavioral issues and are able to better stay on track academically. The second reason why students need SEL is general quality of life and well being. When students are explicitly taught social and emotional skills, they grow to be adults who are able to manage life’s challenges and stressful situations. The final reason is future careers and success in the workforce. Adults face challenges all the time at work, and being able to manage problems and conflict is a skill that all adults need to have. Learning this at a young age is crucial. Empathetic, self-aware, and communicative children grow to be empathetic, self-aware, and communicative adults.
Students also need SEL to help them learn to deal with the different types of problems and challenges that they could potentially face at some point during their childhood. Oftentimes we expect children to naturally know how to handle themselves in certain situations when in truth, they really need to be shown the way. Some examples of such situations are bullying, racism, exclusion, teasing, abuse of any kind, inappropriate relationships, cyber-bullying, social media behavior, and internet safety.
These activities focus on many aspects of social emotional learning such as identifying emotions, positive self-talk, how to apologize, unique characteristics, and how to practice mindfulness. They can be done in large or small groups, or completed independently. For more activities for Social Emotional Learning, check out our lesson plan centered around Read Alouds!
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