10 Easy Ways to Incorporate SEL


The goal of Social and Emotional learning is to build resilient humans who can not only combat bullying and negativity, but know how to take care of themselves as well as show empathy for others.

When there is so much importance placed on physical and traditional educational milestones, it’s important to check in and educate children on how to be emotionally and socially intelligent as well. Following are some SEL best practices we have found while talking to other mental health organizations as well as working and speaking with experts in the field . We hope you’ll find these tips and links useful in your classroom or home. Most are easy to implement and only take a few short (but impactful) minutes each day or week.

1. Most importantly, SEL starts with the mindset of the teacher or adult. Take time to educate yourself and to take care of your own mental health as well. Self care is for everyone and has quite the butterfly effect!

2. Incorporate a Daily Morning check in . Five to ten minutes is all that is needed. A quick “how are you feeling” and an invitation to share: is effective. Encourage kids to name their emotion. For all of us, naming our emotion is the first step to feeling better or to connecting with others. Click here for our free resources for naming and drawing emotion and some coping skills games as well.

3. Integrate “I can” statements and the power of “yet” before beginning lessons. Before starting a lesson, especially a tough one, read aloud an “I can “ statement or a “yet” statement. An example: “ I can subtract 2 digit numbers after learning the steps” or “I can’t subtract 2 digit numbers YET, but I will be able to do it after today’s lesson!. Click here to watch a sweet video about the power of YET.

4. Make time throughout the day for mindful breaks.. Coloring, stretching, yoga videos, or dancing. If you have a classroom interactive page, create a choice board for mindful moments where students can easily click and choose their own breaks. Some may prefer to listen to music and quietly color while others may want to be more active and get some wiggles out. Click here for free brain break activities and drawing prompts. We recommend GO Noodle for some awesome educational dance breaks too! You can also provide links to uplifting videos like our very own here on being strong enough to be yourself and stand up to bullies (appropriate for middle school and older)

6. A Weekly “pay it forward” activity can help to encourage empathy. Choose a day of the week for “pay it forward day” to remind kids that spreading kindness and helping others can also be good for their own mental health. Examples can be: making cards for veterans or nursing homes, going outside to help clean up litter, writing a thank you letter to a special friend or grown up, etc.

7. Role play games can be incredibly beneficial in teaching SEL. Scenario-based activities will help students prepare to combat bullying and fight through stressful times. Check out this role play discussion by our partner Dr. Brooks Gibbs to see the powerful impact of a role play discussion. Vary the discussion based on age groups.Ex.- For preschoolers, the scenario can play out what happens when a friend bumps into you or takes your toys. A teen discussion may dig deeper into a cyber bullying scenario.

8. Partner or buddy time may be awkward if kids are not used to it, but can be an important part of the day. Use random buddies to work on assignments or practice presentations together and encourage kind words. This can help improve kids’ confidence and social skills as well. Make sure to pop in to discussions to encourage participation positive behavior.

9. Read aloud breaks are good for any age group. The reading break can be a good reset in the middle of a stressful school day, and an easy way to incorporate a SEL lesson. To check out our list of SEL-based reading recommendations, Click here for our young adults recommended reading list, and here for our early learners book list.

10. Similar to a daily check in, a daily check out can be a simple way to incorporate SEL into your day . This can be in the form of a quick journal prompt or discussion. Encourage kids to share their struggles and happy moments by setting aside time each day, or maybe each week instead to express “pinches and praises” within a live group or group chat if they feel comfortable.

**Check with your school psychologists and social workers for more helpful tips on how to incorporate SEL into your daily or weekly curriculum. **

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