Social Emotional Learning: In Session & At Home

In our last blog post, we discussed social emotional learning (SEL). In this post, we’ll explore what SEL looks like and how it works! 

Heather has been working on phonics with her tutor for several weeks. Heather is curious and bright and progressed quickly through learning her letter sounds. However, once the tutor started having Heather blend the sounds together to form words, Heather’s behavior shifted. She began looking around the room instead of following along while reading with the tutor and would get up frequently to leave the area. Heather became resistant to redirection, and more time was spent on getting her to sit and pay attention than before. 

The tutor noticed this shift and started the next session by talking to Heather about her life outside the sessions: school, her family, her friends, and her siblings.  Heather began to talk about how scary reading was to her. Her peers at school were farther along in terms of reading skills than her, and she felt sad that she was not at their level yet.

The tutor made adjustments to the session: more positive reinforcement, more encouragement, and created a mood chart. They practiced taking a “brain break” when Heather began to feel lower on her mood chart and taking a deep breath when tackling a “scary” word. 

These adjustments made it easier for Heather to talk about her anxieties surrounding reading and the tutor to address them while continuing to teach. Soon, Heather was back to her curious self and tackling “scary” words with confidence until they were no longer scary at all.

By making a student’s inner world and life outside the classroom part of the classroom or session, the teacher or tutor is better able to recognize how certain stressors or behaviors are affecting their work. Once the teacher or tutor is aware of a student’s social or emotional issues, they are able to model for the student how to deal with these. 

Developing these skills starts in the home. There are many ways to work on developing your child’s social and emotional skills. Here are a few that:

  • Talk with your child about the names of emotions (happy, sad, mad, tired, scared, etc.).

  • Ask your child to identify the emotions of the characters while reading together.

  • Make sure your child has plenty of interaction time with other children outside of school! Some of the best SEL happens at recess, on playdates, and on the playground.

  • Take “brain breaks” when working on homework (and it’s ok for parents to take these too while working with your child!).

In addition, if you’d like to learn more, there are some incredible resources online! Here are a few of our favorites: 

  • edutopia.com

  • casel.org