It is clear that understanding and managing one’s social and emotional situations well impacts learning outcomes. Academic and social issues are by no means mutually exclusive. There are five key social and emotional skills that children (and adults) can pick up – self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, responsible decision-making and relationship building.
So, while social and emotional learning (SEL) is not a singular subject that is taught four or five times a week, it should actually be woven into most, or every aspect of the school curriculum. And let us share why SEL is so important to children and adults. Positive social behavior
When better equipped with the tools to manage emotions and self-regulate, there is a lower likelihood of negative social behavior like aggression. Students will have a higher chance of developing good relationships with peers, teachers and family. In lieu of mutual understandings established between students and teachers, students would be more motivated to try harder in school. This can lead to positive outcomes beyond the academic.
Improved academic performance
Research has shown that students who have undergone SEL display an 11-percentile improvement in grades and also better attendance. The skills that SEL trains children to develop will improve attitudes towards school and as a result, classroom performance. When students can understand the rationale behind doing certain things in school and also feel seen and heard by teachers, this further propagates a greater sense of ownership for their school performance.
Children learn to be more self-aware and confident with SEL. Instead of relying too much on others for direction, they learn to trust their own values and instincts. By being able to analyse others’ reactions to their decisions, children learn to nuance their actions on their own and carry themselves more confidently in the next interaction.
The ability to understand others’ feelings and points of view is crucial. Schools must teach students the importance of considering the perspectives of others, as this is the gateway to developing relationship building skills and improving relationships. Little things like knowing how to be a good group mate, study buddy, friend and student add up and set children up for success in the years ahead.
Better emotional health
Students who have experienced SEL have displayed lowered stress, anxiety and levels of social withdrawal. SEL actually shapes cognitive functions that improve inhibitory control. Being able to better cope with their own emotions will reduce emotional outbursts. So, instead of frequently worrying about things and having stress management issues, children would be more relaxed and be able to perform in higher-pressure situations.
While the benefits of social and emotional learning may seem common-sense, these are not second nature to children. They need to be picked up through observation, involvement and close guidance, if not at home, then at school. Therefore it is important to always keep this aspect of education in mind, even as school curricula evolve and academic rigors increase. SEL is a journey and not a short-term training course.
To help schools help children achieve their best in learning, additional tools could come in handy. For example, a smart school management system like LittleLives could make parents’ and schools’ lives easier. Contact LittleLives to find out more!