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Why our children need SEL

In my last email, I started the process of sharing the concept of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) with you. Again, in preparation for the new Ohana SEL/Leadership Program starting the week of September 9th, I wanted to answer these three questions for you:

  • “What” – What is SEL?

  • “Why” – Why our children need it?

  • “How” – How does this all work? (and what you can do at home!)

Today we move on to “Why” – Why our children need it?

Experts debate many reasons why our children lack social/emotional skills today. Some attribute it to technology and over protective parents. While others say the higher expectations and stress levels (and at earlier ages) are causes. Yet others say living in a more scared and paranoid world contributes. Another may be the lack of free unstructured play time. Whatever the cause, most will agree our children today, in general, are lacking the social/emotional skills they need to succeed in school and life.

Here are two articles that nicely answer why our children need SEL. The first is from EdSurge:

“In what ways does SEL set up students for success that directly relates to academic learning—and also doesn't?

A good example of this would be thinking about a student or adult’s ability to regulate your emotions or, as CASEL calls it, in managing yourself. We all have different triggers of stress throughout our life and different emotions that can hijack our body’s ability to be able to process the world meaningfully. If we're not able to regulate or down-regulate in a given situation, we're not able to be available to process the information of what we're being taught.

So, regardless of how fantastic your teacher may be or how incredible that science curriculum is at engaging and motivating you, if you have a student who's dealing with stress or trauma or unable to kind of get over the interpersonal interaction they had right before they entered that classroom, or the trigger word that the teacher said, like “pop quiz,” that set them off into a spiral, they're not going to be able to process the dynamic curriculum that's being presented to them.

And so, social-emotional learning really teaches and targets those skill sets and competencies that underscore your availability to learn.”

Here is a second article from the Committee for Children:“Why do youth need social-emotional skills?

Think of a time when your child had a falling out with a friend or a difficult time fitting in socially. Maybe it was a time you received a phone call from the principal as a result of a situation at school, or when your child came home from school sad or upset, or couldn’t sleep because of an incident at school. Or was it a situation where your daughter or son could not finish a group academic project because of a problem with classmates?

Unfortunately, youth often have these and other types of negative experiences. Parents are there to help in any way they can, but over the long-term social and emotional skills can minimize the worst of these experiences and make youth’s experiences in life easier to manage.

With social-emotional skills, they can establish rewarding relationships with others, maintain meaningful relationships, and handle difficult social situations. They can manage times of high stress, and during times of anger, keep from launching into destructive actions they may regret later.”

I hope his helps. Next week I will share “How” – How does this all work? (and what you can do at home!)

Yours for stronger kids,


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