Social and Emotional Learning Competencies (SEL)
Everyone knows that students need to know how to read, write and do math; however, there are other important skills that students also need. These are called social and emotional competencies.
In preschool, teachers focus on skills that help children behave in a group before they focus on any academic skills. These skills include taking turns, listening and sitting in a group. But other social and emotional skills are wound through the curriculum because they are important to the child being able to function in the world not only as a child, but also as an adult.
It is important that children learn to interact with others, control and express their feelings, and take care of basic tasks independently. In many respects these are more important than academics in the long run. Recent brain research backs this up.
There are 5 groups of social emotional skills that have been highlighted. We will take a close look at one each month on our website and through the resources developed through our Family and Community Engagement Office.
For October we are focusing on the Self-Management Skills. This includes knowing how to control your behaviors and moods and setting and working toward goals.
All children need to be taught how to handle their emotions. A leading psychologist says that one important question to ask children when they are upset is: Is this a big problem, a medium one or a small one? Getting children to place importance on the problem allows them to learn how to react appropriately to situations and not to blow them out of perspective.
Another way to introduce and keep these competencies in mind is to discuss them during the evening dinner. Instead of asking the generic question of ‘How was school today?’- ask questions that will ask children to dive deeper. Some suggestions for dinner conversation questions for this month are:
- What made you feel happy about yourself today? This could be something they did well or how they helped someone else.
- How did you feel when you were out for recess, during math, in music, etc?
- Did something make you frustrated today? What did you do about it?
- Did you learn something hard today? How did you make you feel?
- Did you see anyone sad today? What do you think was the reason? What did you do?
- What is a goal?
- What goals do you think we should have as a family?
- What can we do to make them a reality?
- Do you think we have goals for you? What would they be and why?
- What goals do you have for yourself?
Make your conversation a two way street and also talk about how you felt during the day. What made you happy or frustrated etc.? If you talk about how you handle different emotions you will teach your child ways to handle his emotions as well. You can discuss a couple possible reactions to situations and emotions and discuss which ones would be the best decision and why.
Parents can play a huge part in instilling safe and productive emotions to varying situations. Carefully decide what you want your child to learn and model that behavior and reaction in your daily life.