Take 5 for SEL
Whole Child, Whole Community Learning
May 1st, 2022 - Connecting Social Emotional Learning and Mental Well-Being
Like physical health, positive mental health promotes success in life. Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.
In schools, we prioritize three critical and inter-related components of mental health to promote well-being
- social (how we relate to others)
- emotional (how we feel)
- behavioral (how we act)
While SEL and mental health are not the same, SEL can promote positive mental health in many ways. By promoting responsive relationships, emotionally safe environments, and skills development, SEL cultivates important 'protective factors' to buffer against mental health risks. In this way, SEL is an indispensable part of student mental health and wellness, helping to improve attitudes about self and others while decreasing emotional distress and risky behaviors.
Sources : Department of Education 2021; CASEL 2019
May dates to remember
Monday, May 30th ~ Memorial Day
SEL and Well-being Applications at the Elementary, Middle School and High School Level
Elementary students are:
- learning to understand and discuss their emotions
- Beginning to form a clearer sense of self and their goals
- Developing problem-solving skills and learning about social norms
In the classroom - read books aloud as an opportunity to discuss characters' emotions and perspectives.
In the school - Routines are structured to offer opportunities to practice social awareness, communication, and self-management skills.
At home - Put language around your thinking process and encourage your child to share theirs with you.
Middle School Students Are:
- Experiencing more complex social situations
- Learning to navigate group dynamics and resolve conflicts
- Developing a stronger sense of who they are
- Learning to analyze the impact of choices and make complex decisions
In the classroom- Students can build upon the drive to connect with peer groups and make connections to real-life applications through project-based learning and community service.
In the school - Engage in leadership opportunities where they can contribute ideas regarding learning opportunities, school climate, and needed supports.
At home - Be mindful of the ways adult stressors impact our ability to be present. Plan time together with your middle schooler as a way to connect and catch up on the quickly changing friendship dynamics and address any emerging academic pressures.
High School Students Are:
- Forming deeper awareness of their individual identities and values
- Defining more clearly what they believe is right and wrong
- Gaining clarity about their life goals and how they want to contribute to the world
- Spending more time with peers and forming more mature relationships
In the classroom - Students can make the most of opportunities to use their voice, collaborate with peers, and make deeper connections to their learning.
In school - Create space for all students to engage as leaders, problem-solvers, and decision-makers.
At home - Have open conversations about how students social, emotional, and academic skills connect to their post high school goals.
In young children, mental health refers to the developing capacity of the child to form close relationships, manage and express emotions, explore their environment and learn.
5 Steps for Brain-Building Serve and Return - Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University
Child-adult relationships that are responsive and attentive-with lots of back and forth interactions-build a strong foundation in a child's brain for all future learning and development. This is called "serve and return," and it takes two to play! Follow these 5 steps to practice serve and return with your child.