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The Social Child Essay

4720 words - 19 pages

“Human beings are inherently social.” (Huitt & Dawson, 2011, p1) This statement exemplifies the reasoning behind much of the recent debate over the inclusion of social and emotional learning (SEL) in the standard school curriculum. Argument has predominantly centred on the understanding that the explicit teaching of SEL skills throughout a child’s school years will enhance their ability to “…cope with difficulties and help to prevent mental health problems and (children will)…find it easier to manage themselves, relate to others, resolve conflict, and feel positive about themselves and the world around them.” (KidsMatter, 2011, p1) The focus of SEL is on providing children ...view middle of the document...

” (KidsMatter, 2011, p1) This recognition is due in large part to research indicating that “…in conjunction with cognitive competence…social-emotional competence is an important predictor of academic achievement.” (Ashdown & Bernard, 2012, p1)


Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)

“…SEL is the process of acquiring and effectively applying the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to recognise and manage emotions; developing caring and concern for others; making responsible decisions; establishing positive relationships; and handling challenging situations capably.” (Zins & Elias, nd, p1)The goal of SEL is to regulate children’s emotional reactions and to develop in them an ability to self-monitor and self-manage their behaviour. (Elias & Weissberg, 2000, p187)

The standard academic curriculum is not the only curriculum in place in schools. Two additional curriculums are identified by Elkind (1976), and both must be taken into account by schools and teachers, “In addition to the school curriculum, mandated by society, the teacher must also take account of the developmental curriculum (maturational) priorities, and the personal curriculum.” (Elkind, 1976, p195)

The developmental curriculum is where one finds the abilities and concepts that children acquire on their own and much of Piaget’s work has been aimed at uncovering this developmental curriculum. The concepts found in this curriculum have not traditionally been taught in schools as it’s been assumed that children already have them. (Elkind, 1976, p196)

With research indicating a high correlation between social competence and academic achievement, (Zins & Elias, nd; Elias & Weissberg, 2000), there is growing support for a developmental SEL curriculum to be integrated across and in support of the standard academic curriculum. (Elias & Weissberg, 2000; Bernard & Walton, 2011)

SEL curriculum’s and practices are designed to teach all students a “…range of social and emotional skills in a safe, caring environment” (Bernard & Walton, 2011, p23), therein enhancing the social competency of young people while also serving to “…moderate young people’s behaviour, emotional health and achievement as well as to reduce adolescent health and social development risks. “ (Bernard & Walton, 2011, p23)

CASEL competencies

Five competencies are taught, practised, and reinforced through SEL curriculum programming (CASEL, 2003).These skill areas are deemed essential for the development of good mental health and the explicit and structured teaching of them in schools will provide students with the essential practice required before they apply the skills in the wider community. (KidsMatter, 2011, p2)

1. Self awareness

Self-awareness involves the child understanding their thoughts, feelings, strengths and limitations, combined with an understanding of how each of these factors influences their behaviour. Zins & Elias, (nd,...

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