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What is Social-Emotional Learning?

What is Social-Emotional Learning?

What is SEL?

Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) is a crucial part of education that focuses on helping children understand and manage their emotions, demonstrate empathy, establish positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. These skills are essential for their overall development, success in school, and future life. By incorporating SEL, we aim to nurture well-rounded individuals who can navigate the complexities of both academic and personal challenges.

“SEL [is] the process through which we learn to recognize and manage emotions, care about others, make good decisions, behave ethically and responsibly, develop positive relationships, and avoid negative behaviors.” -Maurice Elias, Rutgers University Psychology Professor.  

The Origins of Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) 

The concept of supporting student learning from various angles is not new; it dates back to ancient times. As early as the writings of Plato, education scholars have explored ways to nurture both the intellectual and emotional aspects of students. Plato emphasized the importance of educating the whole person, including the development of character and emotional well-being. The formal development of Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) as we know it today began in the late 20th century. The term "Social-Emotional Learning" was officially coined in the 1990s. One of many pivotal moments and researchers in the history of SEL was the publication of Daniel Goleman's book "Emotional Intelligence", which brought widespread attention to the idea that emotional intelligence is as important as cognitive intelligence for success in life.

In 1994, the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) was established to advance the understanding and implementation of SEL in schools. CASEL played a crucial role in defining SEL, developing frameworks, and advocating for policies that integrate SEL into education systems.

How Seven Peaks School Integrates SEL 

At Seven Peaks School, we integrate SEL into every aspect of our curriculum across all age groups, fostering a supportive and inclusive learning environment. To connect with our approach, see our counseling page for more details and resources. 

In our preschool program, SEL is embedded through play-based learning and daily interactions. We focus on:
Emotion Identification: Helping children recognize and name their emotions through activities like emotion cards and storytime.
Empathy Building: Using role-playing games to teach empathy and understanding of others' feelings.
Positive Relationships: Encouraging cooperative play and group activities to build social skills and friendships.

First through Fifth Grades
For our First through Fifth graders, SEL is integrated into the classroom and school culture:
Morning Meetings: Starting the day with a morning meeting to build community, and set a positive tone.
Problem-Solving Skills: Teaching conflict resolution and problem-solving strategies through group discussions and projects.
Mindfulness Practices: Incorporating mindfulness activities such as breathing exercises and reflective journaling to help students manage stress and emotions.

Middle Years Programme (MYP) - Sixth through Eighth Grades
In our MYP program, SEL is aligned with the International Baccalaureate (IB) learner profile, which emphasizes developing caring, balanced, and reflective students:
Advisory Groups: Dedicated advisory time focuses on SEL topics, allowing students to discuss their feelings and challenges in a safe environment.
Service Learning: Encouraging students to engage in community service projects to foster empathy and a sense of responsibility.
Global Awareness: Integrating discussions on global issues and diverse perspectives to enhance students' empathy and understanding of different cultures. The MYP travel experiences are the culmination of what has been discussed throughout the previous school year in Advisory and throughout coursework.
The Social Institute: SEL for 21st Century Students, teaching students the skills they need to navigate social media and tech positively.

The IB Learner Profile and SEL

The IB learner profile outlines ten attributes we aim to develop in our students: inquirers, knowledgeable, thinkers, communicators, principled, open-minded, caring, risk-takers, balanced, and reflective. These attributes align closely with SEL goals and provide a framework for our approach:
Inquirers: Promoting curiosity and self-directed learning, encouraging students to explore their emotions and social interactions.
Caring: Emphasizing empathy, compassion, and respect for others.
Balanced: Helping students manage their academic responsibilities and personal well-being.
Reflective: Encouraging self-awareness and thoughtful consideration of their experiences and emotions.

By weaving SEL into our curriculum and culture, Seven Peaks School ensures that students develop the emotional intelligence and social skills necessary for success in school and beyond.