Did you know that babies begin learning social emotional skills from birth? If you’re a new parent, you’ve probably already noticed your child picking up on how you respond to their emotional needs.
Children begin developing and gaining an understanding of emotions as soon as they begin interacting with their parents and other caretakers. This process is called social emotional learning (SEL). Through SEL, children develop and practice self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationships skills and responsible decision making.
It’s no secret that kids with healthy social emotional skills are more likely to thrive in school, work, and life. And this is what we all want for our kids, right? SEL takes time, and it’s important that we help to nurture our children’s social emotional skills at home.
It’s easier than you think to transform ordinary family activities into SEL opportunities. Here are a few ideas:
Use intentional conversation starters to turn family mealtime into intimate, fruitful conversation. Here are a few suggestions:
Playing board games as a family can help support a number of SEL skills, such as taking turns, having conversations, and showing good sportsmanship. Monopoly, Pictionary, Charades, Candy Land...the options are endless! As you play, compliment your children on how they are practicing SEL skills.
Art is such a powerful tool that helps shape the minds of children. Scribbling, painting and drawing can serve as positive coping strategies to manage stress and anger. You could also encourage your children to work together on a shared drawing to increase collaboration and relationship skills. There are lots of opportunities for learning with art! Scribble Art, Scribble Add On, Finish the Drawing and coloring pages are simple, but fun ways to encourage your kids to get creative. Check out these activities here.
Transform family movie night into a SEL experience. While watching the movie, pause and discuss how the characters might be feeling. Ask “how are they feeling?” and “how would you feel if that happened to you?” Use these conversation cues to encourage your children to consider how others feel.
Choose a book to read aloud to your children, and as you read, stop and discuss the SEL skills present in the story. Similar to movie night, you can ask how the character may feel or what they may be thinking. Depending on the book you choose, several SEL skills may be up for discussion. Guion The Lion is just one of many children's books that present messages of empathy, kindness, gratitude and more!
Guion the Lion is about an imaginative little lion who sees things differently from his friends.
Using colorful illustrations and charming animal characters, the story portrays that new perspectives can open the door to unexpected fun. My vision is for this book to present a message of empathy, curiosity and adventure to support social emotional learning at an early age.