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What is Social-Emotional Learning?

When it comes to choosing what to teach children, child development experiments say, start with Social Emotional Learning (SEL).

SEL emphasizes the value of building a strong relationship with the self, others, and the physical world.  It’s associated with emotional intelligence, mental health, academics, and career success. Here are five elements of SEL learning in a childhood education program and what they look like in practice.

Self Awareness

Children grow aware of their strengths and areas in which they require assistance. A preschool may use a task activity chart to see what the child wishes to sign up for (for example, watering the garden, setting up the lunch table, or sorting toys). Teachers encourage children to learn skills from one another and ask for help when needed.

Self Management

Preschool teachers are proponents of helping youngsters learn how to manage time with schedules and routines. That is why you may see daily charts, calendars, and clocks posted at eye level. One frequent phrase in SEL programs is “five more minutes to tidy up,” followed by a countdown. This subtle phrase helps children manage their play and get ready for the next task.

Social Awareness

Character Books with illustrations are popular in social awareness and SEL programs because they help youngsters identify other people’s points of view, learn about empathy and compassion, and understand the emotional context.

SEL also uses puppets and animals to tell a story because non-human characters have a more transparent place in children’s emotions, allowing them to empathize more easily with them.

Social Abilities

Making friends is an essential part of life! Preschool teachers assist youngsters in accomplishing this as well as resolving problems with their friends. Relationship skills can also extend to their greater community, such as school pets, individuals in their neighborhood, and relationships with themselves.

Making Good Choices

Responsible decision-making is encouraged in the SEL program. When a child positively modifies their behavior or expresses any of the abilities listed above, a SEL teacher will most likely comment on it. They might remark, “I noticed you helped your friend get back up when he fell. You two kept running for quite sometime after that.”

When they use this language,  teachers utilizing SEL are replaying the responsible decision to the child and how it benefited themselves and others.

Are you looking for a Social-Emotional child care program near you? You will find tons of programs that practice SEL on our platform. Click here to discover.





Wonderschool is a network of quality in-home early childhood programs. Our mission is to ensure that every child has access to a home away from home that helps them realize their full potential. We work with experienced educators and child care providers to help them start their own child care or preschool out of their homes, whether they live in apartments, condos, or homes that they rent or own.