Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) for Health & Wellbeing

Why do we need SEL?

All children experience a range of positive and negative emotions and behaviours, as they try to understand the world they live in. They experience these emotions in various areas of their life: school, their relationships with teachers, peers, family and friends and during outings and extra-curricular activities.

They experience happiness, success, anger, confusion, anxiety, loneliness, failure, unfairness, bullying, teasing, a sense of low self-worth, achievement and under-achievement and a struggle to achieve their full potential: academically, socially and at a personal level where their interests and aspirations are concerned. They often have a need to discuss issues and emotions they are trying to deal with in order to understand and resolve what they are experiencing. They are often struggling with the need to understand what is right and what is wrong, what is fair and unfair. Many children are extremely sensitive and struggle more than others in understanding these emotions.

As adults we need to understand that society has changed in so many ways. This is the price we pay for “progress” and we ourselves are currently struggling to keep up with new systems and norms. We are also struggling to understand what makes our children tick. And then there is all the new technology to further complicate our attempts at good parenting. We hadn’t quite got the hang of understanding the various social media platforms in our children’s lives and now there is AI!

We need to reflect on our interactions with our children and ask ourselves if we demand

too much from them, because we want them to shine in academics, in sports, in co-curricular activities, in everything. We want them to be confident, out-going, social, studious … just about everything. Of course we want the best for them, but let us stop and think how this may be affecting our relationship with them. Yes, life has become very competitive now. And we want to prepare them. But this can be very stressful for children and create unnecessary anxiety, because our children don’t want to disappoint us, and it is far from what we want for them.

Children usually don’t get the opportunity for free-play and playing with neighbours and cousins as we did. Through our play, we learnt to negotiate for ourselves, make rules for the games we played, we solved problems, resolved our own conflicts and learnt to be self-reliant to a large extent.

These days as parents we are often unavailable because of our own work pressures and lack of time, or, we are always there to help our children and often try to solve their social and emotional problems. We write in to school, talk to other mothers on WhatsApp, to the parents of children with whom our child is facing a difficult situation. So again, time to reflect on how will our children learn the skills required if we are always there to bail them out? We are depriving them of the real-life experiences they need to make developmentally appropriate, responsible decisions and to gain confidence in themselves.

So, what is SEL?

SEL is an educational concept that helps children gain skills in important areas beyond math, reading, and other core subjects in school. SEL helps them identify their feelings, understand and communicate with others, build strong relationships, and make good, empathetic decisions.

Studies show that social-emotional skills such as, problem-solving, self-regulation, impulse control, and empathy helps create positive classroom climates, reduce negative social behaviours like bullying, and as a result, improves children’s academic achievements.

How will SEL help our children?

The SEL programme we have in mind will have a positive effect on your child’s success in school. We hope that through focused SEL activities which will be integrated into our curriculum, our children will develop self-awareness, self-control, and empathy and learn to understand their own strengths and weaknesses. SEL activities will also help children develop social awareness to see what effect their behaviour has on other people. They will learn to manage their own emotions and anger, manage relationships and make responsible decisions.

People with strong social-emotional skills are better able to cope with everyday challenges and benefit socially, academically and professionally.

We would be very grateful if you could reinforce our efforts at home. We will keep you informed and updated and look forward to your cooperation.