What Is Social-Emotional Learning?
Social-emotional learning (SEL) is an integral part of human development that begins in early childhood and continues well into adulthood. SEL involves the following five core competencies:
- Self-awareness: the ability to recognize one’s emotions, thoughts, and actions, as well as personal strengths and challenges.
- Self-control: the ability to express emotions appropriately under challenging situations.
- Social Awareness: the ability to consider the perspective and feelings of other people.
- Interpersonal skills: the ability to interact and communicate with others effectively.
- Responsible decision-making: the ability to understand consequences and make constructive choices.
Positive social and emotional development is vital for children to form healthy relationships and build self-confidence. Social-emotional learning occurs every day, both inside and outside of the classroom. Although it is not an official part of the school curriculum in most states, educators often incorporate SEL into the daily lesson plan due to its intrinsic, lifelong benefits.
The Benefits of Social and Emotional Learning
While SEL is considered to be a non-academic aspect of education, teachers believe it is necessary for their students’ success. It has also recently seen a surge of interest at the federal and state levels due to the fallout from the COVID19 pandemic. Most educational professionals and policymakers agree that SEL is essential to provide a well-rounded education. The benefits of SEL extend beyond the classroom as it helps students to develop healthy coping mechanisms and learn valuable life skills to carry into adolescence and adulthood.
Students with special needs in particular often struggle with self-regulation and communication. For this reason, social-emotional learning is an essential approach for special needs educators. Some fun, creative ways to incorporate SEL into the daily curriculum include:
- Daily reflection - have students keep a journal or use a picture board to help identify and regulate their emotions.
- Group activities - allow students to work together in a group to practice their communication and social skills.
- Open discussion - allow students to share their thoughts to help build self-confidence.
- Vocabulary building - incorporate social-emotional vocabulary terms to help give students the tools to express and interpret their emotions.
- Role-playing - have students act out different scenarios to help foster empathy and address common problems such as bullying.
Keep in mind
These, of course, are just a few ideas to help incorporate social-emotional learning in the classroom. Special needs educators often need to take a more holistic approach to address their students' emotional and intellectual needs. SEL is a very effective method for teaching special needs students valuable life skills while improving academic performance.
Request a Tour of The Gateway School
Since 1980, RKS Associates has been a leader in providing the needs of special education students and helping children grow to their fullest potential. Each of our schools seeks to empower each student with skills for life, work, and recreation; we believe that every individual possesses the dignity and potential to contribute to a better world.
As part of the RKS Associates Network of schools in New Jersey, the goal at the Gateway School is to assist all students in becoming as independent as possible and help them get ready for the future. Located in Carteret, NJ, we serve individuals throughout Central and Northern New Jersey. Contact us at our main office at 732.541.4400 with any questions or schedule a private tour of the Gateway School today.
Chris Hoye, Principal-The Gateway School of Carteret, NJ