In the Spring of 2019, the Cherokee County School District released a committee report focused on Social Emotional Learning within our school district. The primary objective is to not only prepare students for their future academically, but also to teach them how to foster meaningful relationships, make good decisions, and overall impact "not just the minds of Cherokee students, but also their hearts." However, this can't be accomplished single-handedly as it must be encouraged both in the classroom and in the home.
The aforementioned committee report released this as their belief statement and vision:
"Cherokee County School District believes in strengthening our school community through a focus on Social Emotional Learning, a process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply 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
Make responsible decisions
Our vision is that all CCSD students will thrive today, tomorrow and throughout life with a sense of purpose and self-worth."
With this in mind, here are some Social Emotional activities for students of all ages!
Social Emotional Development Activities for Elementary-Aged Students
1. Take Turns Planning a Fun Night
Giving your child some freedom to make plans for you or the whole family helps develop decision-making skills, but also is a good exercise for self-awareness. Some nights, your child will call the shots and see how it affects other people. On other nights, someone else may call the shots and your child will gain insight as to how it made him/her feel and how to be content whether they're on the decision-making side or the participant side.
2. Write Letters and Draw
Take time to teach your child the joys of writing letters or creating art for a loved one. This helps build relationship skills as your child can see the benefits of positive relationships and the joy that comes with gifting a friend or family member with letters or pictures.
3. Simon Says
You have probably played Simon Says at least once in your life, if not many times. While it seems like it's just a fun game to play with children and adults alike, it's actually an excellent tool for social emotional learning. This game teaches children how to follow instructions and demonstrate self-control while realizing that these skills take concentration and intentionality.
Social Emotional Development Activities for Middle and High School-Aged Students
1. Envision the Future
For older students, their current decisions are more likely to affect their futures. Take some time with your student and ask them what their ideal future looks like and how they plan to achieve these goals. This doesn't necessarily need to be their plan for the rest of their lives but is more of an exercise to inspire vision so they can hopefully make decisions that support their goals.
2. Encourage Leadership
Leadership looks different for every person, but it's an excellent skill to develop and discover at a young age. Not everyone has to be the leader but give your child space to demonstrate potential leadership skills. When given opportunities to demonstrate leadership, students can learn a lot about themselves.
3. Take Time to Listen
It can be hard for children to approach their parents about their feelings. However, when they do, it's an excellent opportunity to show them the importance of being sympathetic and a good listener. When they approach you with these requests it's important to either stop what you're doing to listen or schedule some dedicated time for the two of you to discuss any feelings or complaints. Your child is watching how you treat them in times of need as well as how you respond to friends and family members so set a good example and use these moments as a way to promote Social Emotional skills.
In the midst of your parenting and advice, don't forget that Social Emotional Learning is just as important as academic learning. Help your child develop Social Emotional skills at a young age and watch them reap the benefits!