Some may hear the phrase “social and emotional learning” and immediately dismiss it as a feel-good fad with no educational benefit. In reality, empirical evidence has shown that social and emotional learning instruction, or SEL, improves academic performance and boosts standardized test scores. In addition to its myriad emotional benefits, SEL instruction has proven to be a potent tool to help children become successful, well-adjusted adults. Read on to learn more about what SEL is and where you can find the best and most current advice on how to implement SEL instruction at home.

What Is SEL Instruction?

Also referred to as emotional intelligence, social and emotional learning is the process of acquiring and applying “the knowledge, attitudes and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions” (CASEL, 2014). Daniel Goleman, author of the book Emotional Intelligence, enumerates five competencies that children should develop in the course of the SEL process:

  • Awareness of self and others. Identifying and understanding others’ and one’s own emotions.
  • Mood management. Managing difficult feelings in a healthy way.
  • Self-motivation. Goal-setting, perseverance, and resilience.
  • Empathy. Being able to put oneself in another’s shoes, intellectually and emotionally, to see their perspective and show compassion.
  • Relationship management. Conflict resolution, cooperation, and collaboration.

New York University Child Study Center

In 1997, The Child Study Center at NYU was founded to improve the treatment of psychiatric disorders in children. One objective of its tripartite mission is to “research and disseminate scientific findings to improve the practices of professionals serving children.”

In her article for the NYU Child Study Center, Dr. Robin Stern of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence reviews what SEL is and what it looks like applied to real life. Most importantly, she also offers a lengthy section on integrating SEL into a child’s life. She has a special sub-section with tips for parents that offers creative, empirically sound advice.

The Parent Toolkit

A comprehensive parenting resource created by Pearson and NBC’s Education Nation, the Parent Toolkit has a page devoted to tips and advice for parents on emotional and social development. This page is one of the best resources out there because of its age and topic specificity. Toolkit breaks the SEL advice down by age group—pre-K, early and late elementary, middle school, and high school—as well as skill area—self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.

Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL)

This non-profit is dedicated exclusively to researching and promoting evidence-based SEL, making it an authoritative online source. CASEL’s site offers myriad resources for parents: parents can read the CASEL guide on effective SEL, watch the webinar that accompanies the guide, and download the free, information-packed parent packet. In the packet, you’ll find resources like “Ten Things You Can Do at Home” to promote SEL.

In Short

It’s not surprising that children’s social and emotional functioning directly affects their scholastic achievement. Parents who want to maximize their children’s academic success can benefit from any one of these home-based SEL instructional resources. For more tips on enhancing home curriculum, request a free K12 information kit today.


Image via Flickr by US Department of Education

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