Raising An Emotionally Intelligent Child With The Help Of Social Emotional Learning Activities
Schools across the world are increasingly paying attention to socioemotional development of their students. Thus, it becomes imperative for us, parents/caregivers of young children, to get a thorough understanding of this area of learning and provide a supporting environment to our children for their social and emotional development.
Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), has defined SEL as:
“the process through which children and adults understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions”.
Benefits of SEL (social-emotional learning) include improved social and emotional skills, attitudes, behaviors, relationships and academic performance in children; decline in anxiety and behavioral problems as well as wise financial investments in future based on research.
Seems like an area that shouldn't be overlooked, right...?CASEL social emotional learning framework includes five stages of socioemotional development. They are:
- Self-Awareness- To know one’s emotions, thoughts, and values and how they influence behavior
- Self-Management: To manage one’s emotions, thoughts and behaviors effectively in different situations to achieve one’s goals
- Social Awareness: To manage one’s emotions, thoughts and behaviors effectively in different situations to achieve one’s goals
- Relationship Management: To form healthy and supportive relationships and resolve any conflicts positively
- Responsible Decision-Making: To make constructive choices for personal and collective well-being
Now, since parents and families are children’s first teachers, we have a great responsibility of supporting these stages of socioemotional development in our children. Let’s see how we can use Cognitive Head Start 101 to aid that process while creating your own SEL curriculum right at home.
Just like adults, children also experience many emotions throughout the day but they often do not have the words to talk about their feelings. Consequently, they end up acting out their emotions in inappropriate ways. So, it is extremely important that we help children identify their emotions and express them in acceptable ways. The ability to describe one’s feelings gives the person a sense of control over strong emotions. Some feeling words we can use with children are: happy, interested, excited, surprised, amazed, pleased, annoyed, hurt, frustrated, scared, mad, bored, puzzled, worried and shocked.
As you look closely at all the Mazes activities in our bundle, you’ll realize that they provide great opportunities to talk about feelings that are significant for our little children.
Few examples are as follows:
- When children have to help the baby-dinosaur reach his family /take the puppy to its owner/help the child reach his school, we can ask them if they have had similar experiences of being lost, unable to find the correct route, followed by naming the particular feelings associated with such a situation such as – feeling scared and confused, and finally figuring out ways to deal with them like staying calm and thinking clearly, seeking help from adults, etc.
- When children have to help the rhino find the route to the animal bus/ help the crocodile board the plane/help the monkey join his friends on the ship/ help the two cranes meet, we can talk about the feelings of joy, cheerfulness and excitement of being with friends, embarking a fun journey, spending time together.
- While helping the hen reach her eggs/ the bee reach its hive/ the doctor reach his patient, there is an opportunity to teach the feelings of being responsible, caring and worried.
There are many more mazes and parents can discuss feelings they find relevant as per the children’s responses and experiences. The theme of emotions is taken up separately also in the set and parents can use it to consolidate the identification of different emotions. These seemingly simple activities will be of great help for social development in early childhood.
Managing emotions effectively
A lot of themes in the value bundle provide scenarios where children can be taught to manage their emotions effectively. For instance, the theme of Monster Trucks can be used to discuss the underlying theme of competition and to share experiences related to winning or losing in a competition. Children can be asked to label the feelings such as anger, pride, jealousy, frustration, etc. and the acceptable behaviors of expressing the feelings can be discussed.
Parents can make it more meaningful and engaging by using puppets, props or costumes and acting out scenarios. This will provide real situations where children struggle with expressing emotions and encourage practicing social-emotional skills. They will also get a chance to reflect on their behaviors.
Empathizing and building positive relationships
Themes such as Farm Animals, Sea Animals, Bugs, Families and Professions are brilliant at aiding social and emotional development in children. Owing to the presence of multiple and diverse characters in these themes, conversations and learning develop the ability to understand the perspectives of others, empathize with others, and feel compassion for others.
Activities in these themes should be followed up by reading stories, singing songs/poems and watching movies on the same themes. For example, if children watch Finding Nemo after working on the theme of sea animals, they can learn about people with special needs, the importance of friends and family, problem-solving and the quality of perseverance. All these are essential components of well-rounded social and emotional development.
Children can take up hands-on projects too after working on themes like Bugs. They can be taught to observe insects, draw their pictures/make crafts and talk about them. This will promote curiosity and also make children more sensitive and compassionate towards all living things in their environment-big or small.
The theme of Professions can be made fun and enriching by role-plays. Children enjoy and learn a great deal through pretend-play activities. Parents should also not hesitate to put their acting robes on. Apart from teaching important academic and social skills, this will also be a great bonding activity between parents and children.
Raising an emotionally intelligent child
We need to teach our children to be sensitive, caring and responsible beings right from their childhood. Aristotle has rightly said that "Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all." We need to make conscious efforts to do the same.
Themes such as Trees can be followed up by reading famous stories like The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein which teach us valuable lessons in unconditional love.
The theme of Camping can be tied around the value of teamwork. Stories like Swimmy by Leo Lionni, Tractor Mac Teamwork by Billy Steers, How the Crayons Saved the Rainbow by Monica Sweeney, Up the Creek by Nicholas Oldland – these are all great at developing the important character strength of working as a team and building a community.
Socioemotional development is essentially a life-long task but we should make the best of efforts to initiate our children into it. Social and emotional skills are important in our fast-paced world. Our children should be empowered enough to take care of themselves and the people around them.We would love to know if any theme in our Cognitive Head Start 101 helped you and your child foster any essential social-emotional skills.