Social Emotional Learning Activities for the Classroom

Instructor: Andrew Diamond

Andrew has worked as an instructional designer and adjunct instructor. He has a doctorate in higher education and a master's degree in educational psychology.

In this lesson we'll cover some of the basics of social and emotional development and provide a few activities which can be incorporated into the classroom to aid this development. A short quiz follows.

Social and Emotional Development

Much of the focus in modern education is on teaching children facts, such as the year the Magna Carta was signed or the capital of Bulgaria (1215 and Sofia, if you were wondering). It is very easy in the era of high-stakes testing and battles over educational policy to lose track of many of the other values children learn when they are in school. Not only do they gain factual knowledge, they also learn to socialize and to process their emotions and feelings. Virtually every interaction in the classroom is an opportunity for students to develop socially and emotionally.

Social and emotional development involve the growth of a person's ability to understand their own emotions and interactions as well as the emotions and interactions of others. While social and emotional development occurs across the lifespan, a large amount of vital development occurs during childhood (under 18 years of age). It's at this time, when children are experiencing many social and emotional situations for the first time, that lifelong traits can be developed.

Role of the Classroom

Most children spend more time at school than anywhere other than their own home, so the classroom plays a key role in developing their social and emotional abilities. By interacting with their peers, children will learn many skills, such as how to deal with conflict, teamwork, how to manage relationships, and how to exert mindful control over their own thoughts. Interactions with teachers may teach them how to respect authority, follow directions, interact with adults, and operate with appropriate autonomy.

Like all aspects of learning, social and emotional issues shouldn't be left to chance. In just the same way that a teacher would plan a math or science lesson, they should develop specific lesson plans, goals, and objectives for social and emotional development activities. That is not, however, to say that it isn't possible to work the development of good social and emotional traits into traditional lessons. A good teacher will aim to combine all aspects of learning and development in an activity.

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