Thursday, 24 April 2014

Effects of SEL on Other Learning

The website describes the main benefits of SEL in terms of learning, health and happiness.  According to the site, research proves that SEL improves academic performance. "Children who participated in SEL programs in their schools performed better academically – by a full 11 percentile points – than children who didn’t."  Thinking positively, researchers say, increases the flow of dopamine to the brain, activating all the learning centers.  Apparently, if children are happy and thinking positively, their brains actually work better.

SEL skills also nurture creativity. "If You Can" explains:  "Our interconnected, digitized world requires creativity and the ability to innovate, collaborate and take others’ perspectives for success. Creativity and innovation can’t occur if kids beat themselves up and give up when they make a mistake. They need to feel safe, supported and confident that they can try again, and that their uniqueness is an asset. SEL skills are the foundation that enable creativity to thrive."

One of the skills Pinecone focuses on is perseverance -- the ability to persist through failure or challenge.  This is an SEL skill that, in particular,  has shown a profound positive impact on kids’ learning and life success. Studies have demonstrated that the ability to persevere is even more important than intelligence in determining a child's success.  Stanford researcher Carol Dweck found that children who believe if they try harder, they can become smarter, actually achieve more. She calls this kind of thinking a “growth mindset”. Through practicing SEL skills and strategies that build perseverance and a “growth mindset”, your child is increasing his or her chances for school and life success. 

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Social and Emotional Learning

Social and Emotional Learning skills (SEL) include the "soft skills" of good listening, empathy for others, managing emotions like frustration and disappointment, and persisting through failure.  These skills, also called "people skills” are becoming increasingly important as the need to collaborate and communicate whether on group projects in the classroom or with co-workers in a global community can bring successful or potentially disastrous results (e.g. current global politics).  The good news is these skills can be taught.

Research shows that from a very early age, children can learn empathy, tolerance, impulse control, and kind respect for each other.  Tools like breathing exercises to calm down and “real life” win-win strategies to resolve conflicts should be introduced in the classroom along with the regular curriculum.  With early training, children have a better chance at developing the more mature traits of self-reflection, mindfulness and the practice of gratitude.

The following 15 skills are involved and promoted in SEL:
(Source: Wikipedia)
  1. "Recognizing emotions in self and others"
  2. "Regulating and managing strong emotions (positive and negative)"
  3. "Recognizing strengths and areas of need"
  4. "Listening and communicating accurately and clearly"
  5. "Taking others' perspectives and sensing their emotions"
  6. "Respecting others and self and appreciating differences"
  7. "Including identifying problems correctly"
  8. "Setting positive and realistic goals"
  9. "Problem solving, decision making, and planning"
  10. "Approaching others and building positive relationships"
  11. "Resisting negative peer pressure"
  12. "Cooperating, negotiating, and managing conflict nonviolently"
  13. "Working effectively in groups"
  14. "Help-seeking and help-giving"
  15. "Showing ethical and social responsibility"
More about SEL and its benefits coming in the next Pinecone article.