Social for/at (Jones, Barnes, Bailey, & Doolittle,

Social and emotional learning (SEL) is
important for school-agers because it helps them learn and understand how to
deal with their own emotions as well as being able to create meaningful
relationships with others. SEL can be defined as “applying the knowledge,
attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and
achieve positive goals feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain
positive relationships, and make responsible decisions” (R. Stewart, Personal
Communication, October 12, 2017). Social and emotional learning can be taught
in many different ways, can help children do better in school, and can even go
as far as to help prevent bullying.

In schools now, children are taught based
off of a curriculum that puts heavy emphasis on tests and academic knowledge.

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Criticisms are often made about the way that children are assessed in schools
because more often than not they only tell whether the student is a good
test-taker or not. Most standardized tests do not take into account the
differences between students. Some may have test anxiety, or some may have
skills in subjects that standardized tests do not look for/at (Jones,
Barnes, Bailey, & Doolittle, 2017). Students are being taught things like
science, math, and English, however learning how to manage their emotions is an
arguably more important skill to learn as it affects most parts of the child’s
life (Waajid,
Garner, & Owen, 2013). Children who are emotionally healthy
often do better in school and are better at making and keeping friends because
of their ability to take on the perspective of others. Research has proven that
children who participated in SEL programs had statistically better positive
outcomes for activities related to and not related to SEL (Waajid et
al., 2013).

Social and emotional learning can be
implemented into the classroom in a number of ways and Jones et al. (2017)
suggest three ways that SEL can be promoted in the classroom. The first thing
that they focus on is the teacher him/herself. They mention that teachers are
an integral part of teaching SEL in the classroom and that for many SEL
programs, teachers are given special training to help their students with their
social and emotional development. Teachers who are able to properly implement
social and emotional learning are able to gain the trust and respect of their
student and they can have a huge impact on that child’s life. Because SEL
benefits people in so many different ways, children who are able to
successfully learn the social and emotional skills, generally have more
successful academic and personal careers (Jones et
al., 2017).

SEL should also be promoted outside of
the classroom. While many children spend about 5-6 hours each day with their
teacher who can promote SEL, there are some children who do not get the support
they need for SEL from the places they go when they are outside of school. For
many school-agers this includes an after-school program. According to Hurd and
Deutsch (2017), an after-school program is the perfect place to support social
and emotional learning. They go as far as to say that after-school programs
have historically been focused on SEL, dating all the way back to the 19th
century when they were first created. After-school programs are a great way for
children to work on and develop their social and emotional skills. The programs
give children time to unwind from school and allow them to interact with others
while also having access to different, fun activities. Because they are with
other children, they are able to work on their social skills, having to work or
play together based on the activities that are provided, and with some programs
having a lot of children present, they can work on their emotional skills when
an inevitable conflict arises. Overall, after school programs are a great way
for children to develop SEL (Hurd
& Deutsch, 2017).

The promotion of SEL is a great
preventative measure for bullying issues at school. Researchers do say that SEL
is a great way to prevent bullying, however they also say that other tactics
have to be implemented alongside social and emotional learning to get the best
outcomes. They call this method the whole-school approach, and it says that
with SEL there also needs to be bullying-related school rules as well as proper
teacher training (Smith
& Low, 2013). Using SEL to help prevent bullying
ensures that bullying will not be a future problem. Because SEL puts emphasis
on empathy and taking on the perspective of another person, there is less of a
chance that a person will bully another individual as well a higher chance of
someone intervening. Bullying I something that is a problem in school-agers but
the effects of it can be lessened or stopped if social and emotional learning
is implemented correctly.

Social and emotional learning has a large
impact on children when it is used in their classrooms and outside of their
classrooms. Programs like after-school care are a great place to implement SEL
because of the social nature of it. In the classroom, SEL can have a positive
affect on the children and the way that they interact with others, express
themselves, and how they do academically. When interacting with each other, SEL
can have a major impact in the prevention of bullying because it promotes
empathy. Overall, social and emotional learning is important for children to be
taught because it can make them into better, more well-rounded people.