“We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build the youth for our future.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt
It is often said that children are our future and that, as educators, it is our job to prepare children for their responsibility. In order to ensure that we provide an education for the whole child, it is important we not only educate the child academically, but also socially and emotionally. Research shows that a child’s healthy social and emotional development correlates with healthy cognitive development and provides a foundation for both school achievement and lifelong success. In short, social emotional development begins at birth and allows children to acquire skills that will enable them to be successful as students and, ultimately, in life.
As defined by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), social emotional learning is the process through which children and adults acquire the knowledge, attitudes, and skills to: recognize and manage their emotions, set and achieve positive goals, demonstrate caring and concern for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, make responsible decisions, and handle interpersonal situations effectively.
Research further shows that when children are taught effective social emotional skills along with academic skills, they are more likely to remember and use what they are taught. Children are more likely to become active participants in school and classroom environments where they feel safe and accepted as individuals. In order to grow, a learner has to be willing to be vulnerable and take risks and this only happens when children feel safe. In addition, children and youth need role models in the classroom and school settings that can help them react appropriately to the challenges they face in their daily lives. By providing children with a set of strategies and skills, we not only enable them to become citizens of their schools, but also, citizens of the future.