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The Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning

In the last few years, much emphasis has been put on revamping academics, including Common Core State Standards and revised curricula. Yet it’s also important for teachers and parents to be reminded about Social/Emotional Learning, and how this significant piece of education helps K-12 students better function in school.

Simply put, SEL means that children can:

  • Recognize and manage their emotions
  • Learn to solve problems
  • Have empathy
  • Appreciate diversity
  • Recognize their strengths and the strengths of others
  • Work in a cooperative manner

Once these SEL skills are mastered, young students have a much greater chance of school success.

How can a parent help a young child develop these critical SEL skills?

  • When a child is frustrated, help him look for behavior “triggers.” Recognizing triggers that cause frustration and looking for patterns with those triggers can help a child manage their reaction.
  • Give opportunities to “figure things out.” For example, when your child is having difficulty working with a more complex puzzle, don’t jump in to help right away. Give simple hints, and see if she can work it out.
  • When reading stories together stop and ask questions like, “Have you ever felt like that?” or “Do you think that character was right, and why?” This will promote empathy.
  • Encourage him to add diversity to his drawings. Take out books from your local library, and read together about different cultures, countries, religions, etc.
  • Catch her “doing it right!” Pay attention, and recognize and praise your child when things are going well. This rewards and helps a child recognize strengths, and builds self-confidence.
  • Have family “chore” time, family game nights, or family readathons where all family members are working, playing, or reading for a certain length of time. This can foster a child’s early sense of “teamwork.”

Paying attention to small details like these also helps young children become more active listeners, and more attuned to the world around them.

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