Think about the last time you tried to get a child to do homework or class work when they just weren’t feeling it. Maybe they were worried about an upcoming test or a friendship issue. Or they’re stressed about doing their assignment wrong, or they’re just “hangry” or worn out. Situations like this at our house can sometimes lead to extreme frustration or full-on meltdowns when I push too hard to “just do the work” without making sure my child’s more basic needs are met first. Everyone knows kids can’t learn without solid social and emotional skills like regulating emotions, problem solving, relating well with others, self-awareness, and decision making.
A situation like that could work out so much better if a child is able to use his self-awareness skills to recognize that he’s feeling a little off, and reflect about what might be causing that feeling. (Is he hungry? Is he worried about something?) If he’s worried about a problem at school, a solid command of problem solving and decision making strategies can really help. If he’s afraid of messing up on the assignment or an upcoming test, a growth mindset can change the way he approaches these tasks. If he’s frustrated that you’re pushing him to get his work done when he has other things on his mind, the ability to regulate his emotions and proactively ask for what he needs can keep the situation under control.
Social emotional skills are crucial and we can’t brush them off as “soft skills” or skills that aren’t worthy of our limited teaching time.
Many parents want to know how you plan to teach their child all the important academic content they’re supposed to learn. In those same conversations, we need to help parents understand the equal importance of social emotional learning. As you share ideas for home learning in reading, math and other content areas, remind them of simple ways they can help reinforce social emotional learning skills at home too!
Here are some free and fun ways families can practice different social emotional skills at home. This resource includes a list of quick no-prep-needed activities for each SEL skill. And this packet includes a printable chart for families to track when family members demonstrate SEL skills at home.
More resources on social emotional learning at home and at school: