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

If a child has an issue or a problem to overcome, do not solve it for them right away. Encourage children to figure out how they could solve a problem. Practice problem-solving skills by giving children a particular scenario and asking them to come up with a solution. For instance, you can ask them, “What will you do if you hear another kid say mean things to your friend?”


Build Community through Collaboration

Teach kids about teamwork and cooperation. Have them work in pairs or bigger teams to complete a task. There are many opportunities for children to learn the value of collaboration. For example, you can give a topic for pairs or teams to discuss. Children can share their ideas with each other and present their group conclusion. Playing team-building games also helps promote their social skills.


Encourage Positive Self-Talk

Self-talk, or internal dialogue, is the voice in one’s head that speaks of one’s ideas, questions, and beliefs. Self-talk helps control one’s feelings and deal with problems. It is essential to teach and encourage positive self-talk to children. One way to start doing this is by practicing positive affirmations and phrases with them like “I choose to be kind and positive today,” “I am capable of doing great things,” and “I am strong and determined.”


Practice Mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness can help children manage their emotions when they are anxious or upset, calm down, and be present in the moment. Incorporate this practice into the kids’ daily routine through simple breathing exercises and focusing on one thing at a time. You can also do relaxing activities with them, such as going out for nature walks, listening to calm music, or reading a book.


Embrace a Growth Mindset

Promoting a growth mindset helps children realize that they can accomplish their goals with hard work and persistence. This mindset also fosters their resilience and ability to overcome failures. Teach children to set their personal goals, whether it is emotional, academic, or social. These goals will give them ownership of their own learning. More importantly, help kids develop the habit of monitoring their progress to see where they are excelling or which area they can improve more.

Teaching social-emotional skills does not have to be a daunting task. Bringing SEL awareness to children helps them develop healthy coping abilities and better prepares them for their future. With a holistic approach, you can integrate all SEL aspects in everyday teaching to support every child’s needs.


References

  1. Oberle, E., & Schonert-Reichl, K. A. (2017). Social and emotional learning: Recent research and practical strategies for promoting children’s social and emotional competence in schools. In Handbook of social behavior and skills in children (pp. 175-197). Springer, Cham.

  2. Semrud-Clikeman, M., & Schafer, V. (2000). Social and emotional competence in children with ADHD and/or learning disabilities. Journal of Psychotherapy in Independent Practice, 1(4), 3-19.

  3. Durlak, J. A., Weissberg, R. P., Dymnicki, A. B., Taylor, R. D., & Schellinger, K. B. (2011). The impact of enhancing students’ social and emotional learning: A meta‐analysis of school‐based universal interventions. Child development, 82(1), 405-432.

  4. Travers, C. (2011). Unveiling a reflective diary methodology for exploring the lived experiences of stress and coping. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 79(1), 204-216.

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Stanley Clark is a community development volunteer and writer. He has worked on several commercials, events, and campaigns. Recently, he has moved to writing in the area of natural health and wellness, contributing regularly to W-Radiology.com.

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