Classrooms are fundamentally important for the intellectual and emotional development of children. What happens in the classroom has a lasting effect on the rest of a child’s life. Outside of the home, this is where children commonly learn values and behavior norms. To this end, preschools are incorporating the concept of Social Emotional Learning into their education.
Why is Social Emotional Learning important?
Social Emotional Learning (SEL) integrates various aspects of education and life skills into the school curriculum to help children grow in all aspects of their life. SEL involves coordinating several aspects of the child’s life together to create a dynamic education strategy; this strategy helps children succeed in school, in their careers, in their relationships, and in their lives.
Research shows Social Emotional Learning increases the achievement rate of an individual by 11 percentile points, as well as encourages positive habits and behaviors in a child. These behaviors include kindness, empathy, sharing, gratitude, and other positive traits. This education helps children grow up to be responsible adults who are comfortable with social interactions, reducing the risk of stress and depression in growing children.
There are 5 key skills that are taught through Social Emotional Learning:
- Self-Awareness: SEL helps a child to understand her or his own emotions, judge his or her strengths and weaknesses and become self-aware of inner thoughts and the personal and societal consequences of their actions.
- Self-management: It guides a child into independence as she or he takes control of emotions, behaviors, actions, and reactions.
- Social Awareness: SEL also helps children become aware of other cultures and backgrounds, to understand them, and empathize with them.
- Relationship Skills: It guides children into developing and maintaining healthy relationships and helps them act within social norms.
- Responsible Decision Making: SEL teaches children to make responsible decisions for themselves, knowing the consequences of their thoughts, and actions for the community.
It is important for teachers to implement this kind of learning into their classrooms. SEL helps young children learn these valuable skills at an early age. This way, as adults, they are able to manage relationships, both social and professional, with ease. Teachers can implement these life lessons through sharing personal experiences, allowing the children to partake in daily social activities, teaching children about different cultures and social norms, helping them develop social skills, and creating a diverse social and cultural mix in the classroom where everyone interacts with each other. And this does not need to be stand-alone lessons. It can be incorporated into all learning.
Teachers can use the help of sociograms to map out social interactions and create a socially dynamic classroom, especially with older students.
How to construct a sociogram:
To begin, ask each student to write down the name of two other students with whom they would like to partner up with in a group activity.
Now, collect the names from all of your students and construct a flow-chart. Circling the different names in different sizes, you will be able to create a visual of the degree of popularity among students. Here’s an example of a completed sociogram.
You will be able to observe three distinct patterns on your sociogram:
- Isolates- These are students who have not been chosen by any other student in the classroom, or those who have been chosen only by other isolates. This could be a matter of concern for the teacher.
- Gender- Another division that is observable is a gender division. This can be very common among kids of a young age, yet teachers make take note to try and encourage greater unity across gender lines.
- Groups- This pattern involves a certain group or “clique” which has been formed, and could be a matter of concern in the classroom.
While sociograms won’t provide all the answers to social problems in the classroom, they are a useful guide and tool. By identifying the groups and patterns, teachers can concentrate their attention more specifically.
Sociograms can help a teacher identify the relationships between groups in their classroom. By using the data they have collected, teachers can implement SEL in a more organized fashion, tailored to the needs of their own, unique classroom.
If you have questions or concerns about Social Emotional Learning or implementing Sociograms, contact Tessa International School.