Social emotional learning and social emotional learning curriculum why it matters

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Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is defined as the development of self-awareness, self-control, and interpersonal skills necessary for school, work, and life success. Schools can benefit from integrating a Social Emotional Learning Curriculum into their system. 

People gifted with strong social-emotional skills are good at coping with everyday challenges and succeed academically, professionally, and socially. SEL builds a foundation for positive, long-term effect from problem-solving, self-discipline, impulse control, to emotion management and more. SEL is not only effective for kids, but for adults and communities as well.

With SEL, children succeed. Schools win. Workplaces benefit. Society is strengthened. All thanks to social emotional learning.

Social Emotional Learning Curriculum Enriches Children’s Lives

There is no better time than now to include social emotional learning or SEL in our educational curriculum. Kids nowadays are bombarded, at a young age, with all sorts of information and situations that elicit emotional response. These situations could be triggered from the media or from individuals. Social media can be viewed as a positive or negative trigger.

As technology increases, the speed of which information travels to different individuals increases as well. Fortunately social emotional learning curriculum can provide the tools necessary to teach children how to appropriately manage and express their emotions. In addition, it can help keep children safe in potentially harmful situations.

SEL improves learning in two ways:

First, in younger age groups, SEL teaches children to focus more on instructions and less on social situations in the classroom, at home, or in other social environments.

Second, children who’ve had exposure to SEL instruction and good educators can achieve significant improvements in academic performance.

According to the Center on the Social and Emotional Foundation for Early Learning (CSEFEL), relationships—especially with nurturing adults—can positively impact a child’s academic outcomes. When children feel and receive support within their family and in school, they become more open, communicative, and can result to improved academic and executive performance. The role of a good social emotional learning curriculum is especially important within the family, because it helps improve relationships and keeps children safe and secure.

Unfortunately, a lot of people take SEL for granted and assume that children at home learn skills such as these. Furthermore, the implementation and breadth of SEL is often regarded as difficult or “troublesome.” But considering the fact that SEL is now included in the standards-based instruction in many states and districts, we can safely say that schools are now stepping up and taking on the responsibility.

Social Emotional Learning Curriculum in the 21st Century

The components that make up an effective SEL program align perfectly with the 21st century Skills Model, which recognizes the most important skills children need in order to succeed in collegiate and contemporary workplace settings. The most important skill among them all is collaboration.

An effective social emotional learning curriculum helps reinforce the ability to navigate complex life and work environments.  It also helps children develop adequate life and career skills such as:

  • Flexibility
  • Adaptability
  • Initiative
  • Self-direction
  • Social and Cross-cultural skills
  • Productivity and accountability
  • Leadership
  • Responsibility

In short, SEL improves academic outcomes, test scores, graduation rates, and overall quality of life for those it touches. As more and more research confirm and provide evidence on the benefits of SEL, government officials should push for the inclusion of SEL as an important part of their education agenda.

Who Benefits from Social Emotional Learning Curriculum?

Research shows that there is a connection between skills taught in SEL programs and positive behavior, healthier life choices, and academic achievement. But it’s not only children and young learners that benefit from SEL.

Below is how SEL benefits everyone too:

Students and Schools

Social Emotional Learning Curriculums help build a foundation that supports students’ success both in their personal life and in their academic life. When kids develop their social-emotional skills, they are able to learn better and contribute to a safe and positive school environment.

Workers and Workplaces

SEL programs teach communication, how to get along with other people, problem-solving and assertiveness. These skills are necessary for helping people and organizations build healthy, supportive, and successful work environments where everyone can thrive.

Life and Society

SEL gives everyone—from their childhood to their adulthood—the tools they need to build loving, nurturing relationships, control strong emotions, and express empathy. In addition, public health and safety improve too.

All Students Need SEL

All students need and can benefit greatly from social emotional learning. There is simply not enough instruction in schools to help kids figure out how to make life work. We focus too much on teaching kids to read, write; we focus too much on mathematics and science. But how many of kids actually end up being scientists? On the other hand, every student in a science class find ways to move successfully through life.

When you teach social emotional learning skills to children in school, it can have a dramatic and positive effect on their lives. There is also national data and research to prove it. A recent meta-analysis of 213 school-based research involving more than 270,000 students showed that, compared to controls, SEL participants demonstrated significantly better behavior, attitudes, social emotional skills, and academic performance that manifested an 11% percentile-point gain in achievement. Another study, on the other hand, found that more than 60% of academic failures and over 60% of disciplinary problems came primarily from the freshman class. These were children just coming to terms with a new educational world—they are kids that needed a lot of help and guidance. As educators, we must know what to do to help them.

This is how social emotional learning curriculums make their way into classroom and academic settings. Making them an important part of the entire educational curriculum will benefit everyone. The results have been pretty impressive, so far, when we consider schools that have applied SEL into their system.

The Takeaway

Schools and educators can help students prepare for the real world by employing SEL, teaching with compassion and care, and making sure every child student is armed with the foundations necessary in understanding and controlling emotions.