In today’s world of increased pressures for healthy communication and interpersonal skills, educational and psychological experts became increasingly concerned that children today are lacking the skills necessary to adapt to societal changes.
Over the last decade, professionals have agreed that there has been an increasing need for students to increase their cognitive abilities in these areas.
The advancement of the SEL curriculum otherwise known as Social Emotional Learning is a result of this new focus.
Social Emotional Learning is skill-based teaching in both the home and school environment to enhance the understanding and comprehension of how to process emotions and build good social skills.
School curriculums are integrating newer SEL programs based on helping students gather these skills starting at an early age. The belief is that students in education systems beginning even in the prekindergarten years need to learn these skills to be better prepared to deal with the world in ways beyond traditional educational. And so far the evidence seems to support this thought.
According to a Casel study of a school program that teaches Social-emotional learning, SEL students have fewer disciplinary incidents than non SEL students.
Problems of a lack of Social Emotional Learning (SEL)
With the onset of a much broader world of social media and global communications, the need for proper communication skills for each person has become vital to their lifelong success.
But there has also been a growing need to address the issues of appropriate processing of emotions in children as well.
The rise of many of the high-profile crimes among youth recently has been associated with a lack of poor interpersonal skills by the perpetrators of these crimes. In part, these crimes are seeded by the rise of bullying which has caused so many children to harm across America.
One of the goals of the SEL programs is to reduce bullying with a multi-dimensional emotional intelligence approach to childhood learning.
In teaching children about better emotional coping skills, better respect, and better communication, more children will not stay silent when they witness bullying, and we as a society can better address the root of bullying.
Another critical dimension to these problems is the anti-social behavior which has increased because of the use of computer games, social media, and the reduction in children interacting on a personal scale. Therefore, the need for proper emotional skills has become vital.
Professionals agree these skills should be introduced in the home environment and supported in a school environment. Doing this means that each child is being educated as a whole person every day instead of merely teaching their brain and physical motor skills.
The Social Emotional Learning (SEL) classroom approach
One of the more popular integrative approaches to SEL is cooperative learning and emotional intelligence building. When teachers guide and handle students correctly, each child is embraced for their contributions in a group setting.
Since no two children have the same learning capacities and learning styles, using a cooperative learning system engages each student in enhancing their appreciation for others no matter what style of learning they have.
The new approach to learning and teaching with the implementation of the social-emotional learning protocols adds a form of emotional and communication skill building throughout the school day.
One of the ways that this is implemented in the classroom environment is through direct instruction as well as role-playing. Schools are increasingly using these platforms to help students gain better emotional intelligence.
The SEL format of instruction in classrooms is not stagnant but evolving. Children are encouraged to continuously build on their previous skills. To accomplish this growing curriculum, SEL platforms should be dynamic allowing for growth and changes with the advancement of the age of the children and their capabilities.
The regular encouragement of better social, emotional and communication skills is meant to bring each child into active participation with their peers on levels where they can feel comfortable.
SEL in groups and self study environments
While SEL is meant to help children in groups, it is also intended to help children individually as well. Since some children enjoy and thrive in a more private learning experience, this is also encouraged within the SEL learning scope. Social and emotional learning teaches children how to feel more comfortable in the exploration and enhancement of their self-study skills as well as group cooperation.
By enhancing a child’s SEL skills, they are better adept at using both group and solitary learning without feeling the burden of feeling insufficient no matter what their other learning styles are.
The goal of SEL learning enhancement is to build skills for students both inside and outside the classroom setting.
By building on the belief that all students have things to contribute to a goal in the cooperative learning format, children learn they have value. They are encouraged to participate more and respect themselves and others better in both arenas.
Tactile and comprehensive SEL educational learning styles
It is widely recognized that all people learn through different levels of tactile education. These are recognized as stimuli in mental, emotional, sight, sound and touch skills. Each of these learning platforms is an integral part of a comprehensive adult interaction capacity in life.
Adding to this core of learning styles, there are two other levels of enhanced learning that are also now being tapped as styles of learning that need to be nurtured.
It is recognized that people learn in both group and solitary learning environments to varying degrees because of their personality.
One of the criteria for a successful SEL platform is to allow for SEL skills to be enhanced not just through instructional learning, but also through healthier patterns that become intrinsic in the way children learn and behave every day. These patterns should natural inside and outside the classroom setting both individually and in group settings.
SEL and home learning approaches
In the home environment, SEL can be organically grown through parent-child interactions and family group interactions. Reading books together and discussing the emotions of the characters in the book is a great way to enhance an understanding of the scope of emotions.
In almost all books starting with prekindergarten levels, storylines have distinct lessons. The characters of many childhood books show examples of family, friendship, conflict, cooperation, and increased dialogue as well as a wide range of emotions.
Using books as a platform to enhance children’s SEL understanding and growth is widely recognized as a wonderful tool.
Helping children learn better social skills can start with simple lessons when the children are out in grocery stores, libraries, restaurants, church, sports, and clubs. In each of these cases, children can use their experiences to discuss ways to improve their skills of communication and situational adaptation.