For most education, bachelors degree earners, who are engaged in student teaching this spring, the issue of social skills is probably not on their radar. Daily teacher responsibilities are filled with lesson plans, learning student’s names, grading papers, and keeping up with the rush of responsibilities and pressures. According to recent early childhood news, teaching social skills is a critical component of early childhood education.
How Social Skills and Childhood Education Come Together
No one would argue against the fact that social skills are valuable for early childhood education. However, one of the questions that comes into play is how it happens. How does one effectively teach social skills while in an educational setting? The adult mind functions far differently from a child’s mind, and our common understanding of “education” must, by definition, include memory work, desk-sitting, assignments, writing, and the like. Most children, however, learn better by engaging in experiences, not the educational model conceived of by our adult minds. Most significantly, children learn better by engaging in social experiences—controlled events that require social involvement. Thus, teaching social skills and childhood education come together naturally, but not necessarily as a result of traditional educational methods. Social and emotional learning programs (SEL) may look more like controlled play than like traditional school. Why? Because the students are engaging in social activity, not independent and individualized learning.
How Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Improve Academic Performance
The positive impact of social and emotional learning upon academics is corroborated by leading child psychologists, whose extensive research points to an upward jump in academics among children who participated in SEL programs. Early childhood news reports indicate that most students who took a SEL course improved, on average, 11% compared to other classmates. For example, a student of medium academic ability, say in the 50% range of his or her class, moved into the top 40% of the class after being involved in an SEL program.
Types of Academic Improvements Gained by SEL
So, what is the connection between SEL and academics? The connection does not consist of a straight line, as you will soon discover after researching the early childhood news on the topic. Improved social skills reduce interpersonal clashes and class conflict, thus meaning less lost teaching time for the teacher, and improved concentration for the student. SEL also aids in general decision making, increasing the student’s academic performance. Additionally, a student’s ability to focus and understand people better, improves his or her ability to learn.
While not every school has a SEL program in place, every teacher can nonetheless implement SEL techniques into his or her classroom teaching schedule. More and more education, bachelors degrees, are recognizing the value of SEL, and as early childhood news indicates, the rewards—academically and socially—are significant.