If you’re reading this when it is posted, Happy New Year! I hope you all have had a great start to 2022. And if you’re not, I hope you’re still having a great year regardless. By now, some of you may have already set your new year’s resolutions and started taking a step or two towards achieving them. Others may have had some trouble setting their resolutions in the first place or deciding what it is you have to do to succeed in them. These instances relate to social and emotional skills that are important in guiding us through our everyday life – hence why many schools are now incorporating them into their curriculum.
What is Social-Emotional Learning?
Social-emotional learning is the process of developing the self-awareness, self-control, and interpersonal skills that are necessary for school, work, and life success. These skills help kids to:
Cope better with everyday challenges
Learn effective problem-solving skills
Develop useful self-discipline skills
Develop impulse control and emotion management
To learn more, check out the video below.
Types of Social-Emotional Skills
There are five types of social-emotional skills:
Self-awareness, like identifying emotions, recognizing strengths and needs, and developing a growth mindset.
Self-management, like managing emotions, controlling impulses, and setting goals.
Social awareness, like seeing things from other people’s perspectives, showing empathy, and appreciating diversity.
Relationship skills, like communication, cooperation, and conflict resolution.
Responsible decision-making, including thinking about the consequences of personal behavior.
These skills take time to develop and can start to emerge in children as young as two months old. For example, infants and babies first learn the ability to cry to get their needs met, smile in response to a caregiver’s smile, enjoy looking at themselves in the mirror, show signs of stranger anxiety, and become more interactive. Once they grow up to be toddlers and preschoolers, they have more temper tantrums, begin to verbalize a wider range of emotions and start to play with other kids. They then find enjoyment in playing with other kids and are more conversational and independent as they reach grade school.
One of the best ways to help kids develop these social-emotional skills is by playing various social-emotional learning games with them. Visit my Instagram page for five different games you can try right in the comfort of your own home.
Teaching Social-Emotional Skills at School
Social and emotional skills can be taught to students of all ages. The younger kids are when they start learning how to build these skills, the better. But research shows that working on them during adolescence can also help. The key is to meet students where they are. Here are some ways to teach Social-Emotional Learning in the classroom:
Preschool: Show students how to work in pairs, like reading a book together. Point out how to center the book between two students and how to take turns flipping the pages. This helps kids learn about sharing and think about the needs of others.
Grade school: Ask students to identify their strengths and weaknesses as part of math instruction. Encourage students to fill in part of a grid or a pie chart to show how strong they feel at a particular skill.
Middle school: Show students how to make the classroom a safe space where everyone can express themselves, like saying whether their weekend was good or bad. For example, the class can agree that there’s no teasing allowed.
High school: Help teens practice taking the perspectives of other people. Have them define and use the word empathy and break into small groups to reflect on how and why someone fought for justice and equality.
However, kids who learn and think differently often struggle with self-regulation and other social-emotional learning skills. They may also struggle with anxiety and low self-esteem. As a teacher, you can help support struggling students by: (1) Talking about your own challenges, (2) Guiding kids through the process of self-reflection, and (3) Giving all kids equal opportunities to succeed.
- Clark, A. (2021, May 27). What is social-emotional learning? Understood. https://www.understood.org/articles/en/social-emotional-learning-what-you-need-to-know
- Committee for Children. (2021, December 23). What is social-emotional learning? Committee for Children. https://www.cfchildren.org/what-is-social-emotional-learning/