5 Reasons Why Social-Emotional Learning Should Be Taught in School

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1) Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) keeps students engaged in school

In early elementary school, children learn how to play and be a good friend. Then, as students go through school, they become less engaged with social-emotional learning. Instead, they focus on academics through standardized testing and following school discipline. “In a national sample of 148,189 sixth to twelfth graders, 29%–45% reported that they had…empathy, decision making, and conflict resolution skills…only 29% indicated that their school provided a caring, encouraging environment” (Benson, 2006).

2) SEL helps students with emotions and relationships

Students need social-emotional learning (SEL) as much as math, writing, or any other subject. SEL “builds children’s skills to recognize and manage their emotions, appreciate the perspectives of others, establish positive goals, make responsible decisions, and handle interpersonal situations effectively” (Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, 2003; Lemerise & Arsenio, 2000). Without SEL, students are more likely to be stressed by their academics and, as a result, their relationships with peers, teachers, and parents may suffer.

3) SEL helps students in the future

In many ways, SEL is a valuable skill for life in general. Outside the classroom, SEL skills can affect college completion, job attainment, health, and civic engagement (OECD 2015). This is an important reason why these skills should be introduced at a young age and fostered throughout a child’s education.

4) SEL enhances student confidence through validation

In the classroom, SEL skills help students work better in groups and feel satisfied with their achievements. Later, as students enter high school, they will be more likely to make better life decisions. Learning math through standardized tests does not provide enough interaction. To build the critical SEL skills that will support positive decision making, students need collaborative experiences that help validate their identities and emotions.

5) SEL creates a happy and engaged classroom environment…and a welcoming, collaborative environment fosters SEL development!

Many students learn best in collaboration with teachers, peers, and the encouragement of their families. If teachers and parents create a welcoming, collaborative learning environment, students will improve SEL skills and, as they improve, those skills will reinforce a happy, engaged classroom environment. There are many ways to create this environment. One way is to create a lesson based off of student interests. Another example is to have students work in groups to solve math problems and then reflect on their own and their peers’ social-emotional strengths.

Math & Movement offers engaging learning opportunities for students to work together to create math-movements and to solve math problems and it keeps students connected to their learning. It provides teachers with an easy framework to enhance SEL skills starting in Pre-K and continuing throughout students’ school careers.


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