Social Emotional Learning is about developing the ability to:

  • set and achieve goals
  • feel and show empathy
  • establish and maintain relationships
  • make responsible decisions
  • understand and manage emotions

Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Standards list the intrapersonal, interpersonal, and cognitive skills woven into and necessary for functioning well in everyday life – at home, at work, and at school – for everyone.

Though they differ slightly from state to state, these standards define social-emotional intelligence, which is really just the academic and neuroscientific breakdown of the attitudes, behaviors, and actions that make someone good to themselves, nice to know, and pleasant to work with. Because all the research shows that social and emotional competence is fundamental to academic and personal success, SEL is an essential and integrated part of every pre and primary school curriculum.

CASEL, the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, supports educators and parents in understanding and cultivating SEL standards through these 5 competencies:

  • social emotional learning standardsSelf-awareness – the ability to
    • Identify one’s own emotions
    • Accurately perceive oneself
    • Recognize one’s strengths & limitations
    • Embody a confident, positive, growth mindset
  • Self-management – the ability to
    • Control impulses
    • Manage stress
    • Self-motivate
    • Set goals
    • Organize one’s thinking and tasks
  • Social awareness – the ability to
    • Understand other perspectives and values
    • Be empathic & kind
    • Appreciate diversity
    • Respect others
  • Relationship skills – the ability to
    • Communicate clearly & listen fully
    • Engage & cooperate with others
    • Build healthy relationships
    • Negotiate & resolve conflicts
  • Responsible decision-making – the ability to
    • Identify & solve problems
    • Analyze & evaluate situations
    • Receive feedback, self-reflect & self-correct
    • Embody ethical standards, safety concerns, and social norms

How do movement & mindfulness activities support SEL?

1.Reinforce Mind-Body Balance & Integration

In The Whole-Brain Child, Dan Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson, encourage lots of active movement and sensory play for children. Why? Because the body is constantly providing useful information to the brain. They define being emotionally intelligent as knowing how to listen to and to use that information to both self-care and connect with innate wisdom. All child development experts agree that it is through play that children start to understand their thoughts and feelings as well as to practice how to appropriately interact with others.

In combining active play with self- reflection and self-care, the Movement & Mindfulness Bundle helps kids be more cooperative and resilient. The yoga adventures and self-regulation techniques enable them to understand their feelings, embody ways to control impulses, and manage stress to do their best.

2. Reset the Nervous System to Optimal State

The body and the mind are inextricably linked and our mind-body state dictates how available and/or able we are. Movement & mindfulness activities enable kids to regularly destress and reset their nervous systems such that they can connect, learn, and make smart choices. The more children move and play, the less stressed and more cooperative and learning ready they are. The more children learn how to slow down, relax, self-reflect, and self-care, the more they learn how to shift their own body-mind state.

In his book Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, John Ratey, M.D. describes research showing that physical activity sparks biological changes that increase the brain’s ability to learn, adapt, and perform other cognitive tasks. Exercise builds brain cells, lifts mood, and ameliorates the detrimental effects of stress.

3. Explores the Range of Emotions

Playful exercise and sensory awareness encourage children to explore their natural reactions and impulses. In the Movement & Mindfulness Bundle, the yoga stories invite children to move, pretend to be other animals and objects, try on a variety of emotions, and experiment with specific mind-body activities as self-regulation and social skills. The process of being everything in and acting out the story helps kids develop an awareness of the range of human experience. By naming these feelings and working with shifting them, kids start to be able to tame the bigger emotions that can sometimes overwhelm their young systems. Practicing self-care and regulation as play at a young age lays a foundation for social-emotional competence.

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