Can Social-Emotional Learning Change The World?

Brian Baptista | 2022.09.12

Academic skills are great. Children need to learn how to write, read, count and speak another language – but are we paying enough attention to the development of their soft skills? Or better yet, the question is, how can we do that?
Join us in unwrapping why social emotional learning matters and what is the easiest way to make it part of your family’s everyday life.

social emotional learning

We now know that emotions are essential to understand the meaning of the world around us. If you take out emotions of the equation, our lives would be nothing less than a mechanical transcript. Good or bad, emotions are a crucial part of life, yet, there’s so much that is still untapped about them. 

Social and emotional development is vital for a healthy and fulfilling life. Research has shown that the seeds for emotional development sown in the initial years of life lay down the basis for social functioning. 

It is demonstrated that the pandemic has caused trauma for people of all ages, including — and especially — our children.

No two children are the same – they all come with a unique set of characteristics and ways they display their emotions. While teachers and parents make an effort to prepare them for academic growth, it is just as important to create a higher awareness related to the social and emotional environment. 

Social-emotional learning (SEL) skills involve cultivating the ability to comprehend and manage our emotions, establish positive relationships, develop empathy for others, set and achieve goals, and just feel good about ourselves in general. 

Even though SEL is not a new concept, there are so many questions that are still left unanswered. 

dominika gyani about social emotional learning

Let’s dive a little deeper and see what experts have to say about the matter. 

Head of Education at BOOKR Kids and specialized psychologist for social and emotional learning, Dominika Gyanyi, emphasises how crucial it is for us to help our kids decode and manage their emotions. It truly has the potential to change our children´s lives and – at the risk of sounding dramatic – even impact the world as we know it. 

Dominika Gyanyi reveals “While you think that social-emotional learning is related to how we connect in our social sphere and manage and understand our emotions, it’s so much more. 5 components form the basis of SEL:

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-regulation
  • Decision making
  • Relationship Skills
  • Social Awareness.

Amongst these five, Self-awareness is the core. This refers to the ability to recognize and comprehend emotions, thoughts, values and ultimately, how they affect behavior. As our behavior and the decisions that we make basically compose all aspects of our lives, this means that social-emotional learning can really change the world”

Some families find it hard to figure out how they can assist their children when it comes to emotional development. 

“First and Foremost —Being a Role Model for children- showing a great example and building their own social and emotional awareness is an expremely important task for a parent, yet it is hardly ever mentioned as a main responsibility.  Let’s start simple, using the often underrated power of storytelling. Try this at home:

  • Share memories with the whole family and encourage your children to do so as well
  • Use resources like reading books or doing activities involving kids’ active participation

She also added – ‘Apart from these, parents or grandparents can be more observant of their child’s feelings because they are also part of the learning process.’ Usually when kids are sad, we often try to encourage them to ignore the feeling, saying things like: ‘forget about it, don’t be sad’ and use similar phrases. While the intention might be good, we do not want them to sad, right? It actually does only harm. It teaches young kids to neglect and avoid their feelings – only problem is, that just can’t be done. It’s not how that works, those emotions will inevitably come out sooner or later. What we should do instead is address how it makes them feel. How?

By asking explicit questions like: 

How can I help you? 

Or saying, 

‘please, talk about your feelings’ or 

sharing our own personal experiences to make them understand that it can happen to anyone. 

This definitely offers more profound help to them”

You can find the interview in the Digital Journal as well.

Baby steps, baby steps

Now that gives us a lot of useful information and tangible tips on how to act around the little ones when they experience sadness or difficulties. It sounds quite easy too – but let’s dig a little deeper to avoid potential pitfalls.  

The biggest problem for parents tends to be expressing their vulnerabilities. Parents want to be role models for their kids – and they consider showing, dealing or talking about problems a negative attribute so they avoid doing that,  facing problems with admitting their vulnerabilities. What makes this even harder, is the fact that many parents have been raised in an environment devoid of social-emotional learning. Teaching something that they haven’t been raised with and therefore might not come natural to them is a very difficult thing to do. Also, there are times when families do not have the right materials to support kids’ learning.

– Gyanyi explains why so many parents face difficulties raising their children to be self-aware with their emotions

Supporting materials are a great way to start

BOOKR Kids has been working effectively to build a safer space for families and give parents an effective tool. Thus, with COPUBLICA, Learning Planet Institute, and HarperCollins, it has come forward to make social-emotional learning accessible with a set of innovative gamified digital and non-digital tools to create your family’s stories for your children to improve family SEL.

Considering how stories make sense of the world and can pass on social skills and values to children, we focused on social-emotional learning at home for children from age 0 by encouraging families to share their intergenerational stories with their children. Through playful digital and non-digital tools, built-in animations and narrations, this new project gives a chance for families to play together and create books about their own lives and stories, giving an amazing basis for conversation and deeper connections.  

Social emotional learning matters. We believe that storytelling alone gives children opportunities for a brighter future and can foster personal and collective growth as well as well-being. And yes, with that, it may as well change the world as we know it today. Sounds too good to be true? 

All we need to do is try to find out. 

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