It is a reality that children spend most of their waking hours in school, and whether we like it or not they are greatly influenced by their teachers and peers and majority of the beliefs they have about themselves will be shaped by them. How children interact with other people and the experiences they had with their relationships to teachers, classmates, school staff and peers also influence their interpersonal skills and how they manage their emotions. When they get to make friends, have positive relationships and feel that they are accepted and valued by their teachers and peers, children become more confident, independent and inquisitive and this leads to positive learning experiences. On the other hand, if they feel isolated, invisible and unable to make meaningful connections with the people around them, then they become aloof, afraid of rejection and unable to make friends. This in turn could lead to anxiety and depression. It is the goal of every school to provide the best learning experience to their students, and integrating a social emotional learning curriculum will make that a reality.
Why Schools Need a Social Emotional Learning Curriculum
In as much as schools want to provide a balanced curriculum where importance is not only placed on academic training but also on the socio-emotional aspect of its students, the teachers and the school in itself does not have the resources to do so. Teachers spend more time preparing for the content of their classes, rather than on focusing how to improve social skills, and emotional control, they also have to comply with state requirements and all other academic related reports. Teachers are not equipped to provide structured learning activities or character formation exercises to their students. The social emotional learning curriculum can be the fastest and easiest way to integrate the learning of social and emotional skills into the curriculum. The school would not have to invest in costly trainings and seminars on how to teach and develop content for social skills and emotional control. It is a win-win situation for schools; they get to prepare children and students with the necessary social skills and proper emotional expressions and control.
What is a Social Emotional Learning Curriculum?
Just like the teaching of basic skills in math or in science, it has long been established that there is a method to teaching. Students get the most out of schooling when they are given the most appropriate instruction and content, wherein it is consistent and directed at developing or strengthening a skill or mastering concepts. Social emotional learning curriculum is a well-designed program of study that focuses on the teaching of social skills and the management of emotions that is aimed at producing students who are confident, socially adept, and are good communicators, and can manage their own emotions and respond appropriately to the emotions of others. This program can be integrated into the curriculum of the entire school and teachers will only have to use the resources and materials in it. There are numerous activities that is designed for each grade level, so that learning happens not only once but consistently over time.
What are The Key Features of the Social Emotional Learning Curriculum?
There have been many attempts at providing a system of learning and it has have its own hits and misses. The Social Emotional Learning Curriculum had been found to be effective at achieving its goals through its unique features:
- The curriculum has been designed using a developmental approach. This would mean that the basic social skills and emotional control activities and lessons have been designed in accordance to the needs and age of the students. Thus, students learn these things as part of their developmental tasks, it is age appropriate and will be more relevant to them. The learning they have will also be progressive and will build upon the previous lessons which would reinforce previous learning, they will then be able to gain competency and mastery in socio-emotional skills.
- The curriculum had been developed by a team of experts on child and adolescent psychology who have the ability to target which social skills and emotions should be managed and controlled that would positively change the student’s interpersonal skills.
- There are numerous topics, content and materials that the teacher can use in class and even integrate into other subjects. Instead of just having exercises during homeroom period, topics like active listening, effective communication and leadership can also be included in lessons in math, science and history.
- The curriculum is made up of lessons that are presented as structured learning experiences, this would mean that each topic have been designed to inform and build knowledge through experiential learning. In matters concerning the social and emotional aspects of the students it is best for them to get to experience the concepts and then gain their own realizations from it, rather than take a lecture approach.
- The curriculum is an online resource which any teacher and student can have access to, teachers can use the lesson plans, and students can work on activities on their own for the older students. Parents can also use its content to help them reinforce at home what had been discussed in school. The school benefits from the social emotional learning curriculum at all fronts, and it will surely benefit most the students.
It is now high time that social emotional aspects of development of our children be given importance in our schools; we want our children to be not just academically good but also to be good communicators, optimistic, happy and compassionate. Character formation and values should become a part of the curriculum; this is the only way that we are ensuring that our children will become better persons in the future. A social emotional learning curriculum that is responsive to the needs and the realities of our students will really make a difference in their lives, they will be more equipped to interact with others, to build meaningful relationships and to have healthy emotional control and expression.