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What is Social-Emotional Learning?

Social-emotional skills help us to be successful at home, school, and work. They are the sorts of skills that are needed to start and keep friendships, complete tasks, and stay positive in the face of stress or adversity. There are many social-emotional skills that we learn in life as we grow up into adulthood, but most fall into these main categories. Skills that help us to

  • identify and manage emotions
  • cope with stress
  • stay positive and persevere when things are difficult
  • build and keep healthy relationships
  • understand and celebrate our identity
  • engage in critical and creative thinking

Your child learns these skills from you, and they’re also taught at school. The way that we learn to develop these skills formally at school is called social-emotional learning. Students learn this as part of everyday classroom life and through a specific focus within the Ontario curriculum.

Watch these videos if you wish to find out more about these skills and discover why they are helpful in everyday life.

What is social-emotional learning?

Skills for students: What is social-emotional learning?

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Speaker, Joyce Erogun

Social-emotional learning, also known as SEL, describes the process of developing and expanding certain skills and knowledge that help us to thrive.

For example, having the knowledge and ability to understand and manage our emotions, to develop and maintain good relationships, problem solve, and make responsible decisions are all aspects of SEL.

On Screen Why is SEL Important?

Not only does SEL support our ability to connect and understand ourselves, but learning these skills also help us to connect with and understand other people.

It’s also known to help students in their academics, but it goes beyond this!

When we’re more comfortable in ourselves and less stressed about our lives we deal with problems and challenges in a healthier way.

Identification and management of emotions

Identification and management of emotions

Skills for students: How your thoughts, emotions and behaviours work together

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Speaker, Joyce Erogun

This area of SEL focuses on the connection between our emotions, thoughts, and behaviours.

The ability to identify our emotions helps us learn how to manage them and empathize with others.

This positively impacts the way we think and, in turn, how we behave and react in situations.

On Screen Why is this important for young people?

Speaker, Jamie, Student

This skill supports our ability to relate to others and properly express ourselves.

Being aware of your emotions helps you to understand yourself more – like knowing what makes you tick.

It’s a first step toward being able to control them and that’s useful when we connect with other people.

Speaker, Mackenzie, Student

On Screen How might this look in day to day life? When would these skills be helpful?

When something happens that makes you feel really emotional – it can feel overwhelming.

We have these moments with our friends, family, and other relationships.

For example, sometimes we lash out at people when we’re actually just tired or hungry.

Understanding how feel allows you to deal with that emotion so you can have a clear head to think and react appropriately.

Stress management and coping

Stress management and coping

Skills for Students: Managing the stress you feel

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Speaker, Joyce Erogun

Life can be stressful and how we manage stress can either positively or negatively affect us.

There are strategies we can learn to help us identify and cope in stressful situations.

Speaker, Justin, Student

 On Screen Why is this important to young people?

There are a lot of stressful things that young people go through on a daily basis inside

and out of school like exams, relationships, pressure about our future careers.

Stress can affect all aspects of our lives, even the way we act towards others.

It’s important for us to learn how to manage it so we can cope better when things come up

On Screen How might this look in day to day life?  When would these skills be helpful?

Speaker, Mackenzie, Student

Having strategies to prioritize your commitments can stop you from feeling overwhelmed.

Discovering ways to help reduce stress like deep breathing or going for a run can help you to get through tougher times.

Positive motivation and perseverance

Positive motivation and perseverance

Skills for students: Persevering even when things are hard 

R/T 1 minute

Speaker, Joyce Erogun

There is much to be gained by maintaining a positive view.

This can mean seeing our mistakes as opportunities to learn, not giving up, and remaining optimistic.

It doesn’t mean that you feel happy all the time but that you have learned strategies to help you think differently about the ‘down’ times and see them as things that you can overcome.

On Screen Why is this important to young people?

Speaker, Mackenzie, Student

Mistakes and bad things happen but we can’t let that stop us from reaching our potential.

Obstacles and mistakes test us, but having a positive outlook helps us to persevere.

It’s vital in developing our minds as we mature.

On Screen How might this look in day to day life?  When would these skills be helpful?

Speaker, Justin, Student

Things don’t always go as planned, like when you get a disappointing grade or lose a competition.

Finding out how you can improve after these events is an example of positive motivation and perseverance.

It helps to see these moments as a chance to grow instead of just a loss.

Healthy relationship skills

Heathy relationships

Skills for students: Having healthy relationships with others

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Speaker, Joyce Erogun

This area of SEL encourages the development of relationship skills that help us to have more positive interactions with the people in our lives.

Healthy relationships encourage a sense of belonging, inclusion and overall well-being.

These skills include communication, empathy, cooperation skills, conflict resolution, and many more.

Healthy relationships are not always conflict free, but we can learn the skills we need to deal with these more difficult relationships in a constructive way.

Speaker, Jamie, Student

On Screen Why Is this important for young people

It’s important to develop habits at a younger age so that when you grow up you can develop meaningful relationships as well.

Practicing your cooperation and conflict resolution skills now will help for the rest of your life.

Speaker, Justin, Student

On Screen How might this look in day to day life?  When would these skills be helpful?

When you are having an issue with another person, at school or at work – this skill helps you to see the perspectives of others and understand their emotions.

This helps with creating a positive resolution.

For example, when you’re working in a group and someone has an idea that you don’t understand.

Instead of ignoring their suggestions, you can ask for clarification – now that person feels heard and the whole group has more clarity.

Speaker, Mackenzie, Student

 Understanding how to develop and maintain healthy relationships also helps us notice signs of toxic relationships.

This can look like taking a step back to evaluate what your role is in a relationship, how you are being treated and dealing with the situation safely.

Self-awareness and sense of identity

Self-awareness and sense of identity

Skills for students: Discovering what makes you YOU!

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Speaker, Joyce Erogun

We can see our full potential when we have a positive sense of who we are.

Being comfortable expressing our thoughts, feelings, and opinions and feeling like we matter promotes our ability to learn new things, explore our talents and strengths, and see ourselves more clearly.

On Screen Why is this important to young people?

Speaker, Jamie, Student

As a teenager, it’s hard to know who you are and to be confident in yourself.

Getting to know yourself allows you to live your own truth rather than what others want.

We’re all unique and have a lot to give.

This area of SEL helps us explore our strengths and gifts without second guessing ourselves.

On Screen how might this look in day to day life?  When would these skills be helpful?

Speaker, Justin, Student

When you feel peer pressured to do something that does not sit well with you, you are better able to stand on your own.

Being confident with who you are stops you from falling into things that you wouldn’t naturally do.

Critical and creative thinking (executive functioning)

Critical and creative thinking (Executive functioning)

Skills for students: Organizing your thoughts to help you focus

R/T 0.53

Speaker, Joyce Erogun

Critical and creative thinking is something we do quite a bit at school. It’s when we set deadlines, make decisions, organize tasks, and complete work.

These skills all involve controlling our thoughts and emotions so we can focus and achieve our goals.

 Speaker, Mackenzie, Student

 On Screen Why is this important for young people

With the amount of distractions in our lives, it’s important to stop and think about what is important and decide how to react.

Speaker, Jamie, Student

On Screen How might this look in day to day life? When would these skills be helpful?

We do a lot of this already!

When we think about the consequences before we speak in heated situations, we increase our chance of a positive outcome.

This can be in an argument with a friend, an issue on a group project, or a problem with a co-worker.

Social-emotional learning skills for life

Closing statement

Skills for students: Social-emotional learning skills for life

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Speaker, Justin, Student

On Screen Why is SEL Important for youth while at school and also helpful in life

You already practice many of these skills every day.

It’s important that we keep developing these skills as we mature and use them in the different places we end up like post secondary school, work, and adulthood.

Speaker, Jamie, Student

You may not remember everything you learn in school and may not use all of it in your future careers, but what you do take with you are life skills. That’s what SEL is all about.

Speaker, Mackenzie, Student

SEL is not just for people who need support now.

We all go through hard times so it’s so important that you learn skills that will help you thrive on your journey through life.