Social-Emotional Learning

Social and emotional competence is a critical building block for child and adolescent success and well-being. It consists of the capacity to recognize and manage emotions, develop concern for others, establish positive relationships, make responsible decisions, and effectively handle challenging situations. Social and emotional competence provides a foundation that will help support children and adolescence throughout their lives.

Parents, teachers, and other child care professionals can do a lot to teach social and emotional skills leading to competence. Being attuned and responsive to children’s emotional cues helps to build the relationship of trust and security required for healthy social and emotional development. Caregivers can teach children how to tune into their own feelings and the feelings of others and how to handle and express their emotions through modeling and explicit instruction.

Social emotional milestones for your child’s well-being can be captured in several age or grade level snapshots: Birth-5 years; Grades K-3; Grades 4-6; Grades 7-8; and Grades 9-12.  Please remember that individual development varies from child to child, but milestones can be useful to help us get a general sense of how our children are growing.

According to the Center for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, there are 10 things that families can do at home to promote social and emotional learning:

1.    Focus on strengths
2.    Follow up with consequences for misbehavior
3.    Ask children how they feel
4.    Find ways to stay calm when angry
5.    Avoid humiliating or mocking your child
6.    Be willing to apologize
7.    Give children choices and respect their wishes
8.    Ask questions that help children solve problems on their own
9.    Read books and stories together
10.  Encourage sharing and helping

In schools, social and emotional skills can be taught through dedicated classes, and also integrated throughout the school day. To find out what research says about the programs your school is using or to explore other programs you may be considering, click on the National Registry of Evidence Based Programs in the related resources sections of the right hand column. If you are not certain what social emotional learning efforts are underway in your school, contact your school’s counselor or social worker.

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