Social Emotional Learning
Parents send their children to school to learn and gain knowledge. However, after years of study and measuring their test scores, children have learned reading, writing and math, but what about the social skills they need to succeed in life?
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, during the 2007-2008 school year, about 46% of public schools had serious disciplinary action, and 31% of schools dealt with different types of physical and emotional abuse. Many educational experts advocate social emotional learning (SEL) which is a process for learning life skills. In other words, it shows children how to understand and deal with oneself, family and other people, and work effectively (wikipedia.com). When dealing with oneself, SEL helps children in discovering and understanding our emotions and learning how to control one’s feelings. When dealing with others, SEL helps children to develop their effective domain: the way children will react emotionally and their ability to empathize or sympathize with their peers and adults. It is also about keeping good and healthy relationships in their school and community. SEL also focuses on tacking different issues that concern children in their relation with school and home environment; in a variety of situations and in a constructive and ethical manner.
SEL programs involve rules, rewards and motivation to help children be always sociable, nice to each other and more collaborative. When kids work together and cooperate, they improve and succeed. Children also learn about feeling and emotions as well as techniques of implementing those rules in their social contexts. SEL programs make children build strong relationships with their teachers and their peers and develop group work habits. The relational side is very important as a social skill and may help teachers become more effective.
Social and emotional curricula are meant to help children become more effective in their learning and behaviors. Still some kids, especially the ones with disabilities, will struggle more than others. Those kids will need more time and effort to learn how to use SEL skills.
*Image courtesy Flickr creative commons.