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Reflections on Social Emotional Learning and Academic Success in Early Childhood

Reflections on Social Emotional Learning and Academic Success in Early Childhood

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Beginning early in life, Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) is highly important for helping preschool children understand and manage their emotions, feel and show empathy for others, establish healthy relationships, set positive goals, and make responsible decisions. 

The evolution of knowledge that we notice in learners, especially among very young learners is remarkable. Educators have noticed that the impact of social-emotional learning (SEL) runs deep. SEL programs have shown a substantial increase in academic achievements and positive social interactions, and a steady decrease in negative outcomes later on in children’s life. SEL has helped learners develop competencies that are going to last a lifetime.

To a teacher’s observation and understanding, SEL is an educational movement that is gaining ground throughout the world. Embedding SEL in the curriculum has clearly shown that it promotes positive development, reduces problem behaviours, improves students’ academic focus, and achieves desirable growth into adolescence and adulthood.

Having scrutinized the data from various studies as well as from real-life observations, one may conclude that providing a conducive, non-threatening environment to the learners through SEL helps to encourage optimal brain development as well as improve social connection and collaboration. In other words, SEL affects learning by shaping and developing children’s neural circuitry, particularly executive functions. The result is a more empathetic, creative, collaborative, and communicative student.

By introducing SEL at a very formative and impressionable age, we get a more distinguished learner for senior classes vis a vis a more knowledgeable but self-centered learner. Communication, formal and informal collaboration, assertiveness, and problem-solving skills taught in an SEL program help them become mentally healthy, universally supportive, and successful work enthusiasts – ready to indulge in lifelong learning.

A few positives that have been observed in learners because of introducing SEL at an early childhood age are:

  • Enhancement in academic success
  • Better self-awareness and confidence
  • Increase in empathy for others
  • Improved relationship-building skills
  • Decrease in emotional distress
  • Positive social behaviour
  • Fewer behavioural problems

With a paradigm shift in the modus operandi of teaching and learning in the last two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it is all the more important and essential that our learners should be taught SEL at a very childhood stage so that they can grow up to combat the challenges that may come along in the growing-up years. When students have supportive relationships and opportunities to develop and practice social, emotional, and cognitive skills across many different contexts, academic learning accelerates both quantitatively and qualitatively.

One contrarian view might be that early childhood is not the time to burden toddlers or expose them to the hard-core realities of the world. This has been refuted by research and studies that reveal that beginning early in life, social and emotional learning (SEL) is highly important for helping preschool children to understand and manage their emotions, feel and show empathy for others, establish healthy relationships, set positive goals, and make responsible decisions. The absence of SEL in early childhood may lead to a rigid mindset where even learning basic skills may turn out difficult for children. Moreover, SEL can and is very smoothly blended with day-to-day learning.

When the teachers blend SEL well with their daily curricula by using children’s books, planning activities, coaching on the spot, praising good performances, modeling appropriate behaviours, and providing cues, the outcome is visible, measurable and of great benefit to the children. In this way, the teachers can intentionally support children’s social and emotional health also.

The teachers, the management, the stakeholders – all put together are of the opinion that SEL is essential and that too in the formative years of the children so that they may be nurtured into emotionally strong human beings with confidence and a drive to succeed.

The introduction of SEL in Kindergarten has undoubtedly brought forth key takeaways for young adults years later. Many of the students say that owing to SEL introduction, their self-awareness and self-esteem have improved, and their multi-dimensional community sensitivity has increased. This has been a great building block in their personal development.

In a nutshell, a well-crafted, fully integrated SEL approach in early childhood education makes an impact on the constructive growth of the children.

Source – Youth Incorporated
Post Link – youthincmag.com/social-emotional-learning-academic-success-crucial-for-early-childhood
Published on February 15, 2022

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