The importance of creating an environment that fosters social emotional learning both at home and in the classroom can’t be overlooked. Many educators face obstacles daily in their classrooms because of their student’s lack of social emotional skills. The reality is many teachers feel they spend more time dealing with social emotional issues than they spend on academics. Although part of education is teaching these skills, the responsibility shouldn’t fall solely on educators.
As a parent, the work you do at home directly impacts the work that is being done in the classroom and in the community. Although social emotional learning takes place in every area of your child’s life, it starts at home because that’s where children feel most safe.
Modeling is the most common way you can help your kids develop social emotional learning skills, but there are plenty of resources out there to help you teach your kids as well. Using SEL resources at home is a great way to encourage the learning they’re doing at school. First, let’s take a look at what social emotional learning actually is.
What is social emotional learning?
Social emotional learning, or SEL, is the process of learning about the social and emotional side of yourself and how it relates to those around you. According to The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, or CASEL, social emotional learning is the process of learning how to “understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.”
SEL isn’t just for kids, adults can acquire these skills as well. CASEL identifies the following five core competencies as part of SEL: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. The goal of SEL is to produce socially and emotionally competent students, but learning these skills takes time and the proper resources.
Best resources for social emotional learning
SEL works best when it’s encouraged both at home, at school, and in the community. These resources are a great place to start if you’re looking for the best ways to teach and model social emotional learning in your home or in your classroom.
- An Exercise in Self-compassion
In order for children to be compassionate towards others, they also need to learn to be compassionate towards themselves. Both children and adults are often hard on themselves, especially when they feel pressured to achieve and be successful. Part of SEL is learning to set positive goals and manage your own emotions. It’s possible to set goals and be successful without beating yourself up over every failure.
This resource is a TEDEd video by The School of Life about self-compassion. It also includes comprehension and discussion questions to go with the video, as well as some additional resources.
- Toolkit for Promoting Empathy
Empathy is an important part of SEL because it promotes connection and the development of healthy relationships. Many students understand the idea of sympathy, which is feeling sorry for someone. Empathy takes this a step further and allows you to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and choose to understand or feel what that person is feeling.
Without empathy, students won’t be able to have compassion for others or manage their own emotions. The Start Empathy Toolkit is an e-book that includes tips, lessons, and exercises on empathy. This toolkit was created after Start Empathy interviewed over 60 educators to see what worked well in their classrooms.
- Character Lab
The goal of Character Lab is to connect researchers with educators in order to provide scientific insights to schools. Character Lab stands as a bridge from scientists to educators so that they can get the best insight and research on promoting social, emotional, academic, and physical wellness in students.
Character Lab has plenty of tips on their website as well as playbooks to help you understand how to model and encourage everything from gratitude to curiosity. They also hold an Educator Summit for teachers who would like to learn more about developing character in their students.
inspirED was started after a group of students was asked how they felt while in school. There seemed to be a large difference between the way high school students felt in school and the way they wanted to feel. At inspirED, they believe student’s voices matter and want to make sure every student feels safe, respected, and empowered at school.
On their website, inspirED offers free resources that were designed by students, teachers, and SEL experts. Their resources are designed to help students develop SEL skills, and they also have projects available on their website that students can implement at their schools.
- Confident Parents Confident Kids
Social emotional learning at school won’t have a significant impact on students if it’s not encouraged at home as well. There are so many resources out there for both parents and students, and Confident Parents Confident Kids is one of those resources.
The purpose of Confident Parents Confident Kids is to help parents who are actively supporting their child’s social emotional learning. Their website has lists of books, media, and even a family emotional safety safety plan you can use for your family.
Jennifer Miller, the creator of the site, has over twenty years of experience working with adults to help them develop SEL skills in children. She is also the author of the book Confident Parents, Confident Kids- Raising Emotional Intelligence in Ourselves and Our Kids- From Toddlers to Teenagers.