When we think of schooling, we often think about math, science, languages, or arts. It’s not very often that we consider the social and emotional learning aspects of schooling. Often, we have simply assumed that children learn all they need to know socially and emotionally through good parenting and meeting people at school. However, in recent times people have started teaching Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) as an actual class in school. Why? Well, we’ve spoken to experts in the field of SEL and education to explain all you need to know. Read on to find out what we discovered.
Simply put, SEL is the process of learning both emotional skills and interpersonal skills vital for school, work, and future life success and understanding. We spoke to the experts over at at PositiveAction.net, who helped us understand the broad definition of SEL. They told us how it involves teaching self-awareness and the understanding of how one’s actions affect themselves and others, as well as teaching self-control and respect. SEL also teaches a variety of interpersonal skills such as fair communication, understanding of one another’s emotions, and how to address people properly. Aside from that, it teaches general social issues and helps children understand why people find certain social situations important, hard, or confusing.
Many educators agree that as well as helping students understand social structures and social skills better, this type of education also leads to improvement in results across the board. Studies have shown that children who undertake courses in SEL perform better throughout other education than those who don’t. This may be because after taking SEL courses, students have a better attitude towards the rest of their schooling. There is also an argument that SEL can make children more resilient and therefore help them to deal with trauma or negative events better.
This education can lead to improvements in a child’s future, too. Proper learning of social-emotional skills can help set children up for life. Learning these skills can help when they enter the workplace, can help boost confidence and understanding into adulthood, and help them form healthy relationships throughout their child and adulthood. A study by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation followed students for over two decades to analyze the benefits of SEL. This study found that children who had been educated in social-emotional skills were far more likely to be in full-time employment by age 25, twice as likely to gain a college degree, and also 1.5x as likely to complete their high school diploma. So, SEL clearly teaches more than just social skills!
Social-Emotional Learning is viewed as an important part of schooling throughout all age groups from preschool to highschool. Many studies suggest that the earlier it is taught, the better, i.e., at preschool, but it is also important to continue this education throughout further education. When in preschool, SEL is more simple; teaching kids how to share, work in pairs and respect each other’s emotions. As the children progress through the other ages of education, such as middle school, the courses become more formal and informative, specifically teaching them about social and emotional skills through activities and formal education practices.
When children reach grade school, SEL can be taught as an official class or integrated into other lessons. Activities will be used to help children identify their strengths and weaknesses in an effort for them to gain extra self-awareness and an understanding of how other children may differ from themselves. This can help children become leaders when feeling confident or understand how to fit into a team better. As they age, these lessons can develop. During middle school, courses tend to focus on emotional and human connection. They could be asked to discuss their personal feelings amongst one another to help develop an understanding of how others feel and how they can help each other.
The classroom should be a safe space where all discussions are allowed, and children can learn from one another without fear of being laughed at or feeling different. Learning the perspectives of one another and why their opinions may differ on certain things is a crucial skill that will help them develop into adulthood.
As you can see, these skills are taught to children through a variety of methods and activities to help them develop into well-rounded, well-educated adults. SEL, therefore, is a crucial component of education and should be taught to children of all ages. Make sure your child is in a school that puts a focus on SEL throughout their development.