Social-Emotional Learning and Brain Development

Vivian Huizenga M.Sc

11th May, 2021 04:34:33 PM printer

Social-Emotional Learning and Brain Development

Imagine if you could wire the perfect child! What would you put into that brain? Turns out social-emotional development is more important than we thought! Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) has become a hot topic in educational circles. Why? Because it better predicts learning and life outcomes. Often thought of as an extra bonus in schools to offer an SEL curriculum, it is now being seen as a prerequisite for success.

Increasing research especially in neuroscience is showing that young children who have well-developed social-emotional skills such as alertness to others’ facial expressions, empathy, compassion, and the ability to self-regulate their own emotions, do better in life. They have higher academic scores and are more confident in social situations. They excel in group work, problem-solving and can think clearly.

International Baccalaureate (IB) schools in particular have a focus on creating students who will be caring global leaders. The IB's mission statement is; The International Baccalaureate aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable, and caring young people who help create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.

With this in mind, schools that prioritise the delivery of a good well-researched Social Emotional Learning program are enhancing the academic development of their students and putting them at a leading advantage.

SEL involves explicit teaching of learning skills such as focusing, listening, using self-talk, understanding empathy, recognising how others feel, knowing how to calm down and how to problem-solve.

These skills when taught early and reviewed each year leave students with high levels of personal and social confidence. These students are then capable and ready to manage themselves, have positive outcomes when interacting with others. They succeed in the academic sphere, family life, and leadership roles such as business, government, and world platforms.

Global issues are increasingly on the public table. We want to prepare our learners for the world.

Good schools have the foresight to use a good well-researched Social Emotional Learning program to counteract the stressors that come from the current Covid 19 situation. Students have been receiving a more rigorous SEL program delivered with increased frequency to learners from Nursery to Grade 5.

This regular work is best topped off with mindfulness. The IB recognises mindfulness as a powerful tool in supporting students’ learning by clearing the mind of internal and external distractions.

Primary students access mindfulness with Mind Yeti weekly for a 3 to 5-minute session. It is only right to deliver so much prevention and support to primary children on a matter that is so vital to future success.

(Writer is a Primary Counselor at International School Dhaka)