We teach kids how to say “please” and “thank you”. We teach kids how to read. We teach kids how to eat. We teach kids how to write. We teach kids how to speak. So why don’t we explicitly teach kids how to be aware, understand, and manage their social emotional learning?
Social emotional learning is one of the most overlooked and important aspects of development for both children and adults. Social and emotional learning (SEL) is “the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions” (The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), January 2017).
The 5 Core Skills of Social Emotional Learning
- growth mindset
- strengths and weaknesses
- understanding emotions
- being able to control your emotions and behaviors
- motivation and goal setting
- Social awareness
- respecting and understanding all cultures
- different perspectives
- Relationship skills
- being able to maintain relationships
- interacting with others in meaningful ways
- Responsible decision making
- making good choices
- problem solving
To read more about these from www.casel.org, click here.
In the classroom we use the teaching method “I do, we do, you do”. The teacher models a skill, the class does it together or in small groups, then the students do it independently. The slow release, mixed with supports teachers put in place, allow the child to see the expectation, practice, then apply it. This is also true for SEL.
As adults, most of these have become second nature and we don’t think to discuss them with kids. When in reality, we need to be consistent and explicit when discussing all of the SEL skills and allow time and space for kids to explore them.
How can you help develop SEL at home?
Here are a few ideas and tips of what to incorporate into your everyday life to help foster SEL.
MODEL. MODEL. MODEL.
- Kids learn from their parents first and foremost. Show them what it looks like to fail and more importantly how to identify, accept, and work on your weaknesses.
- Talk through your emotions with them and explain why you are feeling a certain way.
- Display problem solving skills and explain how you did it.
- Model kindness and empathy towards others.
- Demonstrate how to understand multiple perspectives and celebrate diversity.
- Show them that you have control over your behavior and actions, especially in stressful situations.
- Give them “tools” to use to manage their behaviors and emotions, so when they get upset they can think back to what you showed them:
- calm down jar
- belly breathing
- Kids imitate behaviors they see, so model the behaviors you want them to exhibit.
- Ask your child the following questions:
- How are you feeling and why?
- Why is it important to be kind? How can we show kindness?
- What does it mean to be empathetic? How can you show empathy?
- How can we manage our behaviors?
- How can we celebrate diversity?
- This also allows them to make connections to situations and helps them see the real-world application. Which, in turn, makes it easier for them to replicate and exhibit SEL behaviors in everyday life.
- You can have a family journal or individual journals in which you focus on one SEL a week.
- Write or draw examples of what you discussed or what you learned about SEL.
- Jot down examples of mindfulness, gratefulness, empathy, and kindness that you or your child exhibited.
- Have a family discussion after each entry to provide a safe space for your child to express themselves.
Read Books Together
- Reading SEL books together is another opportunity for your child to make connections with characters and/or stories.
- This can spark some very meaningful conversations.
- Click here for more parent resources for SEL from Parent Toolkit.
Don’t over-do it. If you try to do all of these at once, you will overwhelm yourself and your child. Remember that you are supporting their emotional needs. You know your child best, so focus on the area in which you feel they need the most support to start.