Integrating Social Emotional Learning with Academics in every grade

Emotions drive learning, decision-making, creativity, relationships, and health. In nutshell, Emotions drive our lives. It is very important to reimagine the way how education is perceived in the 21stcentury. For decades, education focused on developing students' academic intelligence but not their emotional intelligence. Since education is transitional, educators and researchers have begun to realize that developing students' emotional intelligence may be just as important and is the missing piece in the puzzle in reimagining a new education system.

The need to integrate emotional intelligence in the form of social-emotional learning in every classroom and equipping students and people to explore their unbound potential will play a key role in shaping the future of our next generation.

First, what do we mean by "integrating" social-emotional learning? Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. 

The more varied the contexts in which students develop and practice their social-emotional competencies, the easier it will be for them to generalize the approaches they've been taught. How do we define the context?

The context is nothing but the challenges children experience in school, at home or in their daily lives. Bullying, exam fear, peer pressure, body image, struggles to withhold and develop their own identity amongst many other issues.

SEL can help schools transform the way we look at education through building curriculums or maybe introducing a 9th period that only caters to equipping children with social – emotional skills on how to deal with one’s feelings and emotions.  The goal of SEL integration is to design learning environments that maximize the opportunities for students to develop and practice SEL skills in different contexts to thrive better in real life.

Here are 3 simple ways you can support social-emotional learning for your students every day:

1.    Introduce a sharing circle: Make it a goal to start each day with a personal connection. It doesn’t need to be a time-consuming or elaborate procedure. It could be as simple as giving a warm greeting to welcome each person as they arrive in the morning. Give children a lot of opportunities—both structured and unstructured—to talk to one another during the course of the day. Bouncing ideas off of one another or figuring out problems with a little give-and-take will help your students build understanding and confidence.


2.    Buddy up with an older or younger class: Having a special connection with another class is a great way to build positive ongoing relationships in your school community. Children are always amazed at how easy it is to find common ground with younger or older students. It will also help students to connect at academic levels. It will build and support a school culture that promotes co-learning within school systems.  The elder students will feel important and the younger students feel special.


3.   Teach them to monitor their own progress: Make personal goal-setting (academic, emotional, social, etc.) a regular activity with your students. It will strengthen their intrapersonal skills and give them ownership of their own learning. Help them develop the habit of revisiting and adjusting their goals often to monitor progress. Am I meeting my goals? What do I need to work on next? How do I want to grow?


Understanding the need of the hour, it’s time to solve the social-emotional gap in the existing teaching methodologies in public schools and low-income communities by conducting SEL workshops. SEL workshops certainly could be a potential ground-breaking solution for the various emotional and mental health challenges faced by children and addressing the challenges faced by teachers to adequately address these endemic problems.

Author- The following article has been authored by Ms Juhi Sharma, Founder & CEO, Light Up  (Emotions Matter Foundation)

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