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Learning re-imagined | Social Emotional Learning, the critical link to academic success

Published:Friday | September 29, 2017 | 12:00 AM


Imagine, if Warren's mother told him to shut up and his response was "mommy, bad words spoil good days", well I would probably cease, to have any more days, let alone good ones.

But here we are in 2017, and a little seven-year-old boy is using the opportunity to let his mother know that her choice of words is not the agreed common language they use at home or as seen on social media.

Now, imagine this same scenario on a playground, where the field is level and the threat of an injury is a very distant memory. would it still play out that way for little Warren?

Would he be able to exercise empathy, kindness, good citizenship, and make responsible decisions with his friends on the playground? Or will there be a conflict situation?

It might be that what happens at the playfield would depend solely on whether all the children speak the same language that is spoken in his house. What was the language in your home? Were you told to resolve disputes on the playground with an adult?

Most likely, your language was if someone hits you unprovoked, "lick dem back".

For many of us, emotional intelligence might not be honed in the early school years. it was a set timetable. you were told to go to school and get good grades. in return, you would be clothed, fed, and taken care of. This was all subject to good grades and not bringing home any notes from teachers and definitely not requesting their presence at school.

While we may all understand the concept of emotional intelligence, no one ever taught us that "feelings", and being able to manage them, would contribute to a holistic and even more academically sound student and critically, the life after school.

Whether you liked school had absolutely nothing to do with whether or not you were going, and yet research continues to show overwhelmingly that the introduction of social & emotional learning (SEL) within the academic curriculum helps students to achieve academic and pro-social objectives. in fact, according to CASEL (the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning), SEL improves achievement at a percentile average of eleven per cent.

So what does that look like in a classroom? In an elementary or primary framework, the courses may be delivered through interdisciplinary methods such as art, music, or dramatics, where children learn life skills honesty, kindness, and empathy - which later translates to them understanding anti-bullying messages and leads to fewer behavioural problems in schools.




As children progress into their teens, playground problems transition to academic stress, questions about dating, body image, and even navigating authority figures at home and in the school system. A whole social emotional evidenced-based curriculum in schools is centred around learning objectives and is most impactful not only when delivered by a licensed and trained counsellor, but when all stakeholders within the community (parents, teachers, and students) receive SEL training and speak the same "common language".

To implement this programme in schools will take some work, but with a consistent SEL programme in schools, children learn five key life skills that they apply to their ways of working:

- Self-awareness

- Self-management

- Social awareness

- Relationship skills

- Responsible decision making

If we believe in the adage that it takes a village to raise a child, then all members of the community should have access to techniques and resources that they are able to use for the betterment of student life.

If we look deeper, most parents treat their children in direct agreement with or opposition to how they received their own parenting. Add to this the complexities of having multiple children with multiple temperaments, then place all 1,200 of these multiple cultures, temperaments, and family styles together each day, and you have a recipe for chaos if children are not taught sooner rather than later, these key life skills.

Investing in the community as a whole includes parent coaching, student coaching and teacher coaching and assisting the easy navigation in conversation between user groups e.g., Student-Student, Teacher-Parent. exposure to SEL techniques at an early age means our children are better able to self-regulate, to identify potential problems, and to seek correct sources instead of alternative solutions, which may include gangs, promiscuous activity, drug, and suicide.

The benefits of SEL extend beyond the academic career and influence a person's ability to manage social and professional interactions with diverse, multicultural environments and how to correctly assess situations and apply immediate and suitable decisions.

As we progress into a "flat world", we are continuously challenged to work and socialise with "our differences". we must acknowledge that the world we are creating for our children will focus less on academic prowess and more on their ability to understand and identify, interact, connect, and manage the differences that make us human.

- Article courtesy of the American International School of Kingston (AISK). AISK is a global centre for excellence in education. Send feedback to