Social Emotional Learning
In the post-pandemic world, we are witnessing a slow but sure change in the methods of learning and teaching. The isolation and chaos of the global disaster has highlighted certain aspects of schools that need to be improved in order to allow children to truly thrive. For instance, it has been observed that more focus on mental health and emotional stability is a must for students to be able to apply themselves to academics. The conversation around a well-rounded education and holistic development of a child’s personality can benefit from an educational concept known as Social Emotional Learning.
What is Social Emotional Learning?
Social Emotional Learning is an educational concept that aims at extending a child’s education beyond the academic curriculum and into areas like relationships, emotional and mental stability, and much more. Social Emotional Learning, or SEL, helps a child understand themselves better and thereby communicate and relate with the people around them in a healthier way. It helps them gain a footing in the world by allowing them to manage their emotions and make responsible decisions.
Social Emotional Learning is not like other subjects like maths or science. It is an ongoing learning process that does not have a defined syllabus or path. Similarly, it is not just the school and the teachers that are involved in SEL. Rather, the parents, siblings, friends, extended family, and the community as a whole are all equally important for the child to thrive in social emotional learning.
The Five Competencies
The Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) is an organisation that is dedicated to helping students achieve positive outcomes with the help of their teachers within the regular educational framework. According to research conducted by CASEL, there are five main areas or core competencies that can be developed through SEL in the classroom as well as outside. The five competencies are –
- Self Awareness
This competency is focused on the student’s ability to recognise and identify their own thoughts, feelings and emotions. It also includes the student being aware of his/her own strengths and weaknesses as well as recognising their own patterns of behaviour.
- Self Management
Self management can be seen as the next step to self awareness. This competency speaks about the student’s ability to take control of their own thoughts, emotions and actions. It is about the ability to take ownership and responsibility of one’s life and also involves goal-setting and working towards those goals.
- Social Awareness
Along with self awareness, social awareness is an important competency for all children to gain. This aspect focuses on a child’s ability to be empathetic towards others, despite differences in cultures, backgrounds and situations. It helps a child grow up to be caring, ethical and understanding towards others.
- Relationship Skills
This competency is extremely important as it involves building and maintaining healthy relationships with those around. This involves the child’s ability to listen, understand, communicate, empathise, resolve conflict, offer support and maintain meaningful bonds over long periods of time.
- Making Responsible Decisions
Perhaps the most difficult of the five core competencies, this focuses on a student’s ability to take ownership of their actions and taking decisions with regards to their possible consequences. A child must learn to weigh the pros and cons, the ethics and morals, the practical aspects, the emotional and mental consequences of a particular action and then make a responsible decision based on the well being of themselves and others.
Benefits of Social Emotional Learning
Social Emotional Learning has innumerable academic and non-academic benefits. The personal growth and improvement that a child can achieve through SEL serves them not only in school or college, but will stay with them for life, strengthening their relationships, improving their emotional stability and enhancing their decision making for life. Here are some important benefits of Social Emotional Learning for students:
- SEL helps a child manage themselves as well as their relationships with others smoothly. This in turn has an overall positive impact on their mental and emotional health, leading to better academic and extra-curricular performance as well as higher motivation and morale.
- SEL has been known to reduce behavioural issues in children of all ages. It allows children the tools to regulate their feelings and express in a healthy way, thus reducing impulsive actions and outbursts.
- SEL equips children with the skills necessary to identify and analyse problems, in themselves, their lives as well as their relationships. This makes them better problem solvers and helps them deal with conflict positively.
- SEL strengthens bonds between a student and his parents, teachers, friends, and community. It makes children more empathetic and supportive of one another and teaches them teamwork and collaboration, allowing them to thrive and grow together.