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Social and Emotional Learning – Making Intellectual Learning Count
What Is Social and Emotional Learning?Have you ever pondered over memories of old school days? Take a moment to think of a teacher you vividly remember. The name that may have popped up would surely be the one you loved or detested the most! Both, very strong emotions! Thus, the discussion on Social and Emotional Learning. Most of the long-lasting memories are etched in our minds because of a strong emotion attached to them.
Our sentiment attached to the teacher or the feeling associated with learning a particular subject in school or at home may have been instrumental in either developing an affinity or a hatred for that subject. We chose to learn some activities because learning with our friends was fun.
Likewise, an unpleasant experience created a mental block towards a particular activity. For instance, consider a case where a swimming coach may have scared a young child by forcing him into a pool of water.
Even though the child’s intellect may later reason that swimming is a valuable survival skill, his deep-seated emotion of fear may silence the intellect. How many times do we act rashly ruled by our emotions knowing perfectly that it is not ideal to do so?
Every choice and decision that we make in life – whether mindful or emotional – has been instrumental in carving out our lives. So then, is it fair to underestimate the importance of emotions when intellect can easily be sidelined by the emotional state of mind?
Why Do We Need To Understand Social And Emotional Learning?As adults, we tackle complex emotions almost every day and often do not realize that the young, fragile minds too have big emotions to handle. Hence, most of the emotional tantrums are seen at younger ages when they are learning to cope with their emotions and often either subside or continue with tantrums based on the responses received from the immediate people around them – their family, friends, and teachers.
We often focus only on a child’s behavior rather the feeling or the emotion, triggering it. Due to lack of strategies and patience, many children are either overly cushioned or excessively reprimanded.
These children are often found to grow into teens and young adults who find it difficult to handle their own emotions later on in life. They either grow up believing that everything that they do and feel is acceptable or on the other extreme ridiculed.
While the one brought up with all his demands met may grow into someone who knows no self-control or restraint, the other who has been micro-controlled may grow to be a self-doubting individual waiting for someone else to correct or make choices for him/her.
Hence, it is important as adults who are responsible for moulding children’s personalities to have immense patience and a balanced outlook knowing when to giving in and when to hold back.
Why Is SEL Important?Recent scenarios where episodes of impulsive anger amongst young children have recklessly lead to a mishap or a crime and cases of intelligent, young adults unable to handle stress and falling into depression add credence to the importance of the development of emotional intelligence. This generation has knowledge available to them literally at a click of a button but, what technology does not offer is developing the real social and emotional skills.
Connecting over the social media platforms is far from human socializing skills and hence it is important that children learn the essence of real human connections and bonding from a very young age despite the lure of socializing with the faceless, anonymous world. Hence, it is imperative to make these impressionable minds emotionally and socially balanced and equipped to make the right choices. This is why Social And Emotional Learning is important.
An extensive research shows that high emotional intelligence is actually more important than IQ to deal with real-life situations and to achieve success and happiness – the very two things that we believe we are preparing our children for. Never before has Aristotle’s words been apter – ‘Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all!’
Education has evolved in many ways over the years through painstaking research by educational psychologists and pedagogies understanding how learning occurs. The focus of the school is to create a non-threatening environment where the child feels happy and comfortable to learn.
Teachers understand that while positive reinforcement and motivation will create an optimum emotional learning condition, punishments often switch the brain into a ‘flight or fight’ mode, wherein, in either case, the mind is not attuned to learning. When the class is actively engaged in collaborative work, inquiry, and research, they learn important skills of cooperation, open-mindedness (accepting different perspectives) and teamwork. This is a very important skill required for Social And Emotional Learning.
Through self-assessment and reflective exercises, they learn to identify their own strengths and weaknesses and take ownership of their own learning. Skills of critical thinking, problem-solving, communication and collaboration, hence have now become an important part of schooling that supports developing emotional intelligence. These are life skills that are crucial to the development of a child to be world-ready.
Studies have shown that the emotional brain responds to an event or to learning more quickly than the rational brain and hence, it is of paramount importance to provide opportunities to develop Social and Emotional skills (SEL) in children.
These skills are necessary as it targets the core competencies of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision making – the key skills that make you successful and happy!
Image Source – CASEL
When Children Develop Social And Emotional Skills:
- They learn to identify and express their feelings and emotions appropriately and in a constructive way
- They are self-confident, being aware of their strengths and weaknesses
- They learn to manage time and set realistic goals
- They are empathetic towards others and try to understand how others feel.
- They work easily in groups and effectively collaborate and cooperate
- They learn to resolve conflicts with their peers
- They learn to cope with stressful situations
- They develop an optimistic view of life
- They achieve greater success
Tips To Develop Emotional And Social Quotient In Children At Home:Talk! : Talk to them at dinner tables or while traveling. Talk to them about good and bad experiences or relationship issues, which you see or read together, may be in TV, movies or books. Lead the talk in a way that helps them to differentiate and develop opinions on their own. Do not choose to talk only about school and lessons. They need a parent, not another teacher at home!
Listen! : When children talk to you, give them undivided attention. Keep all your distractions aside and convey to them not just through your words but also through your actions that they are important. This will build a long-lasting trust and comfort in sharing. This is a very important skill required for Social And Emotional Learning.
Back off! : Most of the children often get all the attention at home and are made to feel overly important. Try to keep it reasonable. Spend quality time giving undivided attention during some parts of the day while letting him/her also have some independent playing or reading the time without you helicoptering over them.
Respond, not react! : Children are still exploring emotions and hence will feel more strongly while expressing about any incident to the parent. For example when a child is hurt or hit, do not be in a haste to react emotionally. The child will register that his emotions are magnified and reacted upon without any assessment. Instead, empathize and analyze. Prod about the incident and ask the child the sequence of events. This is a very important skill required for Social And Emotional Learning.
Promise to talk to the teacher and assure the child that the teacher and the parent will together work on a solution. In many cases depending on the intensity, responses may be milder. You will be teaching them a very important skill that most problems can be solved with a calm mind and through conversations.
Practice what you preach: Be a role model when you handle your own emotions. For young children, they accept rules taught to them as a universal law. Hence when they see adults not following the same rules, it confuses them. Soon they create an understanding that rules can be broken and that they can behave as the adults do. They either then start defying rules and discipline or lose respect for the adult who is preaching but not practicing.
Failing is learning! : Failing at a task is not the end of the world. How many times are we guilty of openly displaying our displeasure about an outcome of an exam or a race, when the child has not achieved as expected? They already know that their efforts were not enough without you needing to rub-in caustic words.
Learning how to cope up with failure is one of the most important life skills. As adults, if we handhold them at every step, not allowing them to falter, we are unwittingly crippling them. Talk to them about your failures and how you successfully coped up (without being patronizing). This is a very important skill required for Social And Emotional Learning.
Let them know when you are hurt or embarrassed: Teach children what is socially acceptable behavior from an early age. After an undesirable behavior, talk to them about how to hurt you were with the behavior and encourage discussing as an alternate way of expression. Do not give in to every demand. Negotiate and let them make choices between their demands. Let them learn to hear a ‘NO’ from you with valid reasons.
The key to developing an amicable and prudent personality is a balance – the right balance between Yes and No, motivation and discipline, talking and listening, giving in and holding back.
Author: Ms. SharanaSaxena – Head of Primary
JBCN International School Oshiwara.
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Posted on: Tuesday,2018,Feb,Tue