A Starter Guide to Social and Emotional Learning

Social and emotional learning, also known as SEL, is a form of curriculum first introduced in the 1960s. But the concepts continue to be relevant as the focus shifts to mental health in children and general social intelligence. Recently, there’s been an uptick in SEL-related news headlines after math textbooks were rejected for including SEL content. However, research suggests teaching social and emotional learning leads to positive social improvement and higher test scores. Let’s look at what SEL entails and why an online school might improve its benefits.  

What Is Social and Emotional Learning? 

SEL teaches kids how to manage personal emotions, how to respond to others’ emotions, and to maintain relationships. The goal is to integrate emotional and social skills into the traditional curriculum by asking students about their emotions or how they would react to hypothetical situations. The non-profit company CASEL (Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning) suggests five areas of focus to integrate into the education curriculum:  

  • Self-awareness: This area is all about the self, and focuses on your child identifying their personal and social identities. In addition, this area emphasizes understanding personal emotions while building confidence and sense of purpose.  
  • Self-management: Another inner-focused area, self-management teaches how to manage those personal emotions after they’re identified. Students learn how to manage stress, set goals, and generate motivation for the future.  
  • Social Awareness: Shifting to outward social intelligence, social awareness focuses on empathy and understanding other cultural and personal perspectives different from one’s own.  
  • Relationship Skills: Sticking to an outward focus, this area is all about understanding how to establish and maintain relationships with others. This includes learning how to support, communicate, and resolve conflict with others.  
  • Responsible Decision-Making: A combination of inward and outward behavior, decision-making focuses on accessing both personal thinking and social interaction to make the best decision for yourself and others. This includes evaluating consequences, impacts on others, and finding alternate solutions for a problem.   

Why is it important? 

As emphasis on mental health and diversity grows, it’s important for a school to not only focus on teaching your child how to become a student and a person. Inwardly, learning SEL allows students to learn how to manage stress effectively. Additionally, emotional management allows for better mental health, while emotion recognition allows children to seek help from others when needed. Research finds that the SEL curriculum increased positive social and academic behavior while decreasing conduct problems, emotional distress, and drug use.  

Outwardly, balanced SEL concepts taught to a classroom of students allows for a safer, respectful environment. Students can learn early to welcome and respect those with different beliefs, backgrounds, and experiences. Resulting in cutting down on bullying and allowing for better childhood relationships. Additionally, employers are looking for social and emotional skills now more than ever, as well as an understanding of diverse backgrounds for a healthy workplace.  

How Online School Fits in 

With SEL’s importance established, there are also many benefits to choosing an online school that is best suited for SEL. From the perspective of the CASEL framework, online school provides a greater focus on the key five areas:  

  • Self-awareness: Online school allows you to check on your child throughout the day. Studies show that parent involvement is important for mental health, but your child must be able to identify personal emotions first. As a Learning Coach, you can ask your child what they’re feeling when a math problem frustrates them. Or how a club activity creates positive emotion to identify passions early. An opportunity for faster recognition of emotions throughout the day may lead to early identification of mental health concerns.  
  • Self-management: Once emotions are identified, online school provides more one-on-one time with parents and teachers. As a parent, you can sit down with your child to set goals for their success. Being in a home environment means it’s easy to check and make sure they’re on track for success. With a flexible online school schedule, students can take the time to destress through physical activities or take breaks when they identify negative emotions.  
  • Social Awareness: Online school allows students the opportunity to meet and interact with more diverse groups of students. In addition, an online school can create a safer environment with less bullying compared to brick-and-mortar schools. Having a safer environment and added confidence empowers students to express their personal beliefs and identities in an accepting environment.  
  • Relationship Skills: An online school setting can lead to stronger relationships for shy communicators. Allowing for more online clubs to suit unique interests, students can bond over shared passions and convert similarities into friendship. Online school also allows for safer interactions in conflict resolution. Technology provides your child the time to fully assess the other person’s emotions and send the appropriate response.  
  • Responsible Decision-Making: Having the buffer time to fully evaluate consequences and outcomes is a benefit of online school. Technology and the comfort of safe surroundings teach your child how to make the best decision possible in every situation.  

When setting your child up for success through social and emotional learning, consider how enrolling in an online school provides the perfect learning environment for life.  

Related Articles

Join our community

Sign up to participate in America’s premier community focused on helping students
reach their full potential.