Social Emotional Learning in the Classroom and Beyond
Want to incorporate more social emotional learning techniques into your classroom, library, or home? Here are some things to try.
We’re in the midst of our third school year that’s been deeply affected by the pandemic, and for some people—kids and adults—that means their mental health is being tested.
From remote learning to school closures to academic lagging to social disruptions, schoolchildren have had to deal with A LOT the past few years. And parents and educators know that this stress has detrimental effects on student mental health.
How can adults help? Directing resources toward programs that can help kids is critical, which might mean hiring more school counselors, developing programs to get kids the therapies they need, and making sure families have holistic support so home is a comfortable and healthy place to be are all essential steps.
There are also steps educators can take on a daily basis in the classroom. Small moments can have a huge impact.
Check in with your kids every day.
This doesn’t have to take up a lot of time, and can be accomplished throughout the day. A quick moment of personal connection goes a very long way with kids. If they know there’s at least one adult within reach who sees them, they are far more likely to ask for help when they really need it.
Try role playing.
When kids act out scenarios, they are training their brains and empathy muscles for future conversations that happen in real life, whether that’s solving a conflict with a friend, establishing boundaries with peers or adults, or being a contributing member of a community.
Remember that language matters!
Negative talk breeds negativity. That’s true for all ages. And positive talk nurtures good feelings! Teach kids to find different ways of framing their feelings or their situations, so that the language they use to describe themselves and others is helpful and productive rather than shaming and hurtful. WeAreTeachers.com has some great suggestions.
Keep in mind, social emotional learning happens constantly.
Feelings and behaviors don’t operate on a schedule. Keep your eyes open for moments when students need support or redirection. Introduce calming techniques such as controlled breathing, time outs, and movement when necessary and appropriate.
Model empathy and inclusiveness.
We all know that kids learn their behavior from adults, so it’s crucial for educators and parents to practice the behavior and thought cycles we want our children to practice. That means listening to ourselves and questioning ourselves on our reactions, accepting feedback, and recognizing our own growth. And not only is this good for the students in your life–it’s good for us, too.
What makes social emotional learning so important? It’s all about how the brain and emotions function together. And we’ve got a book about it.