Windows to the Heart: Parents and Parenting

Simple Ways to Integrate Social-Emotional Learning Throughout the Day for Parents and Teachers


By Stanley Clark.


Children need social-emotional skills to help them understand their strengths and weaknesses, build their confidence, maintain positive relationships, and make better decisions. Social and emotional learning (SEL) is a way to develop a child’s social and emotional competence (Oberle, E., & Schonert-Reichl, 2017). SEL also plays a key role in supporting kids with attention/deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and other learning disabilities (Semrud-Clikeman, M., & Schafer, V. ,2000).


As a supplementary treatment for ADHD, SEL provides a foundation for positive and safe learning. A study showed that social-emotional learning promotes learning achievement and improves school attitudes and performances. SEL may also reduce stress and depression among students (Durlak, J. A., Weissberg, R. P., Dymnicki, A. B., Taylor, R. D., & Schellinger, K. B., 2011).

Given these benefits, it is essential to support children’s mental and emotional health so they are better equipped to face life’s challenges. Parents, educators, health professionals and caregivers need to make time for teaching, discussing, and practicing SEL skills. Below are some simple ways one can integrate social-emotional learning in children’s daily activities.

Begin Each Day with a Greeting

Children need to develop the ability to make personal connections and build relationships. A simple strategy is starting the morning with a warm greeting. When conducting an online class, you can do virtual greetings.


Allow Time for Journal Writing

Give children a quiet time to journal and free-write. Let them express their thoughts and feelings on paper. Give them daily journal prompts to encourage them to reflect on themselves and how their day went. Research showed that journaling may help individuals release tension, explore and deal with their emotions, and integrate their experiences (Travers, C., 2011). Children can also try other creative and fun ways to journal. Examples include doodling, scrapbooking, taking photos, and recording voice notes on a mobile phone.


Hold a Class Meeting

Hold class meetings once a day or once a week to check in with students. The purpose of class meetings is to address any concerns, boost each other’s confidence, solve problems, and plan class activities together. Having this space for children can help promote a positive climate that is conducive to learning. Students will feel empowered when encouraged to voice their opinions.


Incorporate Daily Art Activities

Art is a powerful tool to target a child’s social and emotional skills. Encourage kids to express themselves through various art activities.

Here are some art projects that can be incorporated into a kids’ routine:

  • Drawing to serve as coping strategies for stress and anxiety.

  • Painting as an interpretation of their thoughts, feelings, or a piece of music.

  • Creating a self-collage to help children develop better self-awareness.

Collaboration and positive relationships can be taught by pairing kids up and having them work together on a shared art project.


Give Children Responsibilities

Assign specific jobs or roles to kids. Giving children responsibilities helps build their sense of self-worth and confidence. It also sends a message that they are part of a community, making them feel like they truly belong.


Develop Problem-Solving Skills