Social & Emotional Learning, what is it all about?

May 27, 2016

When children are taught Social and Emotional Learning skills, they don’t only become smarter, they become wiser in the process.  Modelling Social and Emotional Learning during the first six years of a young child’s life helps them to create a strong foundation of inner strength.   They learn valuable self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, motivation and responsibility skills.  The BC Ministry of Education has recognized how social and emotional skills contribute to a child’s success in school and have included it into their curriculum for kindergarten to grade 12 students.

Parents have always been encouraged to prepare their children early for kindergarten by teaching them their colors, the ABC song, counting numbers and to write their name.  These intellectual skills used to be the main way to help prepare children for kindergarten.   However, Social and Emotional Learning helps children learn how to get along with one another and to understand their feelings so they can solve problems.  They learn to focus, listen, be patient, take turns and follow instructions, to name a few skills.  Children who learn these skills are more successful in school and in life.

When I attended the UBC HELP (Human Early Learning Partnership) Conference, the following quote was highlighted; “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.”  by Aristotle.

As children open to connect with their lovable heart, they begin the journey of self-acceptance just for being themselves.  As they recognize their value, strengths and abilities and feel a sense of belonging and trust in their environment they can create a positive, optimistic belief system about themselves.  Whatever a child feels inside is always reflected back to them in some way through their life experiences.

Children learn to understand their emotions by talking about their feelings.  When children were asked, “When have you felt sad?”  One child responded, “When I lost my cat.”  The other children immediately related to the experience and naturally connected with one another through empathy and a sense of belonging.

A full array of feelings can surface when children are learning new things.  From a sense of confidence to the weight of apprehension and doubt (that delays learning).  However, when children are aware of what they have learned in their life to date; that they can walk, talk, jump, skip, etc. they begin the process of feeling more confident and motivated.

When the focus of learning is placed on being kind, caring and appreciative, new approaches to problem solving promote compassion and empathy.  When a child is physically hurt by a scratch or a bump; parents, caregivers and teachers can help the children to calm down.  Once calm they can talk about their feelings.  The focus is placed on helping the children learn and experience compassionate, gentle caring.  With supervision, a cool cloth can be placed on the hurt child.

Social and Emotional Learning helps children take responsibility for their actions as they learn to create and experience more kindness and caring in their life.  Whenever you focus on kind, caring and appreciative behaviors you will watch these behaviors grow!


Fun with trains!