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Why SEL is important to implement at school and at home

Faces Smiling smile face
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Parents teach their children important life skills from a very young age in hopes of raising a child who can grow into a balanced and independent adult. For that to happen, children need to be taught social-emotional skills that will help guide them with setting goals, making decisions, coping with their emotions, and getting along with, and feeling empathy for others. اضافة اعلان

Through these skills, children can begin to understand who they are and what to expect when interacting with those around them. And a growing body of research evidence proves that children who acquire a strong foundation of social-emotional skills in their early years are far better equipped to deal with life’s daily challenges, make informed decisions, and build positive relationships.

These valuable skills can be taught through social-emotional learning (SEL).

So, what is SEL?
SEL is the process of developing the self-awareness, self-control, and interpersonal skills that are vital for school, work, and life success. Children exposed to and taught SEL benefit emotionally, academically, and socially. Through SEL, children learn how to solve problems effectively and develop the self-discipline it takes to set ambitious goals and follow through with them.

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In addition, SEL targets impulse control and helps children develop the ability to manage their emotions effectively.

A 2013 longitudinal study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that in schools that implemented SEL programs, students were 42 percent less likely to say they were involved in physical aggression. A 2015 study by the Hammill Institute on Disabilities found that implementing SEL programs led to 20 percent less bullying of students with disabilities.

SEL is also a core component in school-based bullying prevention programs. That is because raising well-rounded students capable of conflict resolution and controlling their impulses ultimately leads to students who do not feel the need to bully because their social and emotional needs are being met.

While research on SEL in the MENA region is still emerging, some private schools in Jordan have already begun implementing SEL programs as part of their educational curriculum.

A 2021 study published in the International Journal of Curriculum and Instruction focused on the impact of an SEL program on reducing math anxiety in middle school Jordanian students and found a positive correlation between the two. Another study published in the International Journal of Psychological Studies found that emotional intelligence training that includes elements of SEL enhanced student social and academic adjustment among adolescents and adult students in the Kingdom’s north.

Five core competencies
SEL comprises five core competencies that work collaboratively to ensure balanced and well-rounded individuals.

Self-Awareness: The first area focuses on identifying and understanding one’s emotions, recognizing strengths and needs, deconstructing thoughts, values, and experiences, and recognizing how these can influence actions. The goal of self-awareness is to develop a growth mindset that allows a person to take on challenges, learn and move on from their mistakes, therefore increasing their achievements and abilities.

Self-awareness provides the foundation children need to foster optimism and establish and maintain healthy relationships with others. When a child learns to recognize how their thoughts and feelings impact their behavior, it encourages them to make a positive change in their life.

Self-Management: The second area allows children to regulate and control emotions, thoughts, and behaviors they had previously identified, control their impulses and set realistic goals. This is achieved through working on areas such as stress management, improving organizational skills, and working on self-discipline.

Self-management is heavily tied to enhancing academic performance because it focuses on the ability to set goals and work towards them. Utilizing self-management strategies can take many forms, but they usually focus on self-reflection and undertaking a realistic evaluation of oneself to take the appropriate next step positively and constructively.

Social awareness: Once the concepts of self-awareness and self-management have been introduced and implemented, children are introduced to the concept of social awareness. Social awareness requires perspective taking, showing empathy, appreciating diversity, and treating others fairly. Through developing their social awareness, children can establish and maintain healthy social interactions and relationships, positively impacting their family, school, and the greater community.

While some might think that concepts such as equity and diversity might be too difficult to introduce to children, especially younger ones, it has been proven that the earlier such concepts are introduced, the more likely children are to grasp them and believe in them. When you teach a child that everyone’s differences are unique and worthy of respect, they begin to develop empathy for others and consider their circumstances surrounding things such as gender, age, race, culture, religion, social class, and financial situations.

Responsible decision-making: Once a child becomes more socially aware, they begin to make healthier decisions. Responsible decision-making is the ability to make constructive and positive choices based on social and individual factors. This includes academic goals, consequences of personal behavior, ethical standards, social norms, and safety concerns.

As children navigate day-to-day life, they are forced to make large and small decisions when facing a broad variety of different situations that require their attention and consideration to ensure a positive outcome. This compels them to consider the consequences of their actions, understand their strengths and weaknesses, and know when to ask for help when making important decisions.

Relationship skills: Relationship skills such as communication, cooperation, and conflict resolution are concerned with a child’s ability to make positive connections with others, as well as their ability to establish and maintain mutually rewarding relationships because they were able to take their emotions into account when having social interactions.

Through these skills, your child will learn to compromise, be thoughtful and considerate of others’ feelings, build positive relationships, and contribute to their work and school environment.

When put together and taught comprehensively and holistically in schools and at home, these five core competencies can transform a child and allow them to pursue their goals, manage their emotions, improve their overall attitudes, listen actively, have a strong sense of self, respect the opinions of others, and maintain healthy relationships.

There are many ways in which SEL can be taught in classrooms, all depending on the age group, school culture, and individual differences of each student. For example, teachers can explain concepts using their words with accompanying pictures and videos. Students must also practice concepts through group work and discussion, class activities, partner work, and individual writing.

Concepts being introduced at school will, of course, require reinforcement at home through teacher-parent collaboration. It is important that at the end of each unit, the teacher checks for understanding and re-explains when necessary.

Making the informed decision to teach SEL at schools means that proactive measures are being taken to offer an all-inclusive education for students across the country regardless of where they come from.

SEL is a long road that starts at kindergarten all the way through high school, and it requires grit and perseverance from students, parents, teachers, and the wider community to ensure that children’s emotional and social needs are prioritized in the hope of turning their dreams into a reality.

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