Children learn so much in their formative years, and parents and teachers have much to consider when influencing the growth of the young people in their care. Enhancing a child’s social and emotional learning (SEL), to ensure their wellbeing is prioritised, is a step in the right direction to promote resilience, independence and future success.
In Promoting Social and Emotional Learning: Guidelines for Educators, Elias et al. say, “fostering knowledgeable, responsible and caring students is an important priority…yet today’s children face unparalleled demands in their everyday lives. They must learn to achieve academically, work cooperatively, make responsible decisions about social and health practices, resist negative peer and media influences, contribute constructively to their family and community, interact effectively in an increasingly diverse society and acquire the skills, attitudes, and values necessary to become productive workers and citizens” (Promoting Social and Emotional Learning: Guidelines for Educators, Elias et al, USA, 1997).
It’s enough to make an adult’s head spin, let alone a child’s. And these days, it’s far worse with the pressures of the online community, multimedia pressures, the political landscape and an ever-changing world.
So how can we, as educators, compete against society’s demands and ensure our children have positive influences, improved social emotional learning and enhanced wellbeing?
In their study, Elias et al., shows that you can develop social and emotional skills through classroom instruction by modelling, role-playing and using didactic instruction, as well as incorporating SEL approaches within a comprehensive, theory-based framework that is developmentally appropriate (Elias et al, p16).
SEL is about developing coping mechanisms and social support for transitions and crises, as well as promoting good health and problem prevention skills. When children transition into adolescence, and then again into adulthood, it is a tumultuous time. By teaching them to recognise their own behaviour, be aware of the world around them and develop skills to tackle the big issues in their lives, their social and emotional learning is enhanced, and leads to resilience, independence and future success.
A good SEL program embedded in the curriculum, focusing on mindfulness and wellbeing can promote invaluable life skills, that will help raise knowledgeable, responsible and caring children.