Social-emotional learning strategies (SEL) are critical for creating a positive and inclusive learning environment that supports students’ emotional and academic growth. This post includes effective SEL strategies that all teachers can use in the classroom.
6 Daily Social-Emotional Learning Strategies to Use
Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) is an essential component of education that involves the development of social and emotional skills in students. It encompasses a range of skills, including self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.
Teaching social-emotional skills is essential because it helps children develop the ability to manage their emotions, build positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. These skills are necessary for success at school, at home, and in the community.
This post includes six SEL strategies you can implement quickly in your classroom to help support your students and create an inclusive learning environment.
1 – Build Positive Relationships with Morning Meetings
Teachers should aim to build positive relationships with their students to create a safe and supportive learning environment. This can be achieved through activities such as greeting students by name, showing interest in their lives, and offering support when needed.
Morning meeting is an excellent routine that helps foster and strengthen relationships in the classroom. It also helps students learn to communicate and get to know one another.
Morning meetings or afternoon wrap-ups provide valuable opportunities to connect with students. They enable you to check in to identify what is working and approach things that aren’t together. Children actively listen to ideas and are empowered to share what needs work.
How to use morning meetings to build relationships.
- Make sure that the classroom is a comfortable and inviting space. This can be achieved using warm lighting, comfortable seating, and colorful decorations.
- As students enter the classroom, greet each one of them individually with a smile and a few kind words. This will help them feel welcome and valued.
- Select fun ways for kids to greet each other daily. Check out these greetings for a morning meeting kids will enjoy!
- Establish a routine for the morning meeting that students can rely on. This can include a welcome song, a brief check-in, and a sharing activity.
- Encourage all students to participate in the morning meeting by asking open-ended questions and allowing everyone to share their thoughts and ideas.
- When students share their thoughts and ideas, listen actively and respond with empathy and understanding.
- Use icebreakers and community-building activities to help students get to know each other better. This can include simple games or sharing activities that help students learn about each other’s interests and backgrounds.
- Take time to celebrate the successes of individual students and the class.
2 – Promote Self-Awareness & Emotional Regulation
Teaching self-awareness in the classroom can help students better understand their thoughts, emotions, and behavior.
Help students better understand their emotions and how they can impact their behavior. Encourage students to reflect on their feelings and provide opportunities for them to express themselves in a safe and supportive environment. This can be accomplished with a feelings check-in chart or journal.
Students need to learn how to self-regulate their emotions effectively. Teachers can help by modeling appropriate behavior and teaching coping strategies, such as deep breathing, mindfulness, or taking a break when feeling overwhelmed.
Try these teacher-tested strategies to help build self-awareness.
- Model self-awareness by being mindful of your thoughts and emotions. Share your own experiences and encourage students to reflect on their own experiences.
- Encourage open communication, respect for different perspectives, and provide opportunities for students to express themselves in a safe and supportive environment.
- Reflective exercises such as journaling or mindfulness activities help students understand their thoughts and emotions better.
- Provide constructive feedback on students’ work, behavior, and participation in class. Encourage students to reflect on their performance and use feedback to improve.
- Help students set realistic and achievable goals for themselves. Encourage students to reflect on their progress towards these goals and celebrate their successes.
- Encourage students to develop empathy by considering the views of others. This can help them better understand their thoughts and emotions and improve their social and emotional skills.
3 – Mindfulness Routines & Calm Down Strategies
Teaching mindfulness in the classroom can be a great way to help students develop the skills they need to manage stress and anxiety, calm their minds, focus better, and improve their overall well-being. Try introducing mindfulness practice that resonates with you in the classroom, such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, and visualization.
Before you can effectively teach mindfulness to your students, it’s important to have your own mindfulness practice. This will help you model the behavior and allow you to share your experiences and benefits.
Integrate mindfulness into your daily routine and encourage your students to do the same. This could include a brief mindfulness exercise at the beginning or end of class or setting aside a few minutes for mindfulness before a transition or during free time.
Mindfulness activities and routines that you can try today!
- Teach simple breathing strategies. Encourage students to take a few deep breaths and focus on the sensation of their breath moving in and out of their bodies.
- “Mindful Minutes” movement, brain breaks, or yoga. This is a great time to help students connect with their bodies as they practice mindfulness.
- Use sounds to calm and focus. Play music during quiet learning.
- Set up a calming corner or calm-down space in the classroom for kids to use when they need peace and quiet.
- Guided meditations can be a helpful tool for teaching mindfulness in the classroom. There are many resources available online and apps that offer guided meditations specifically for kids.
Remember to be patient! Mindfulness is a skill that takes time and practice to develop. Keep it simple when introducing it. Encourage students to be patient with themselves and to keep practicing, even if they don’t see immediate results.
4 – Read SEL Children’s Books
Picture books are excellent for teaching social-emotional skills because they engage young children’s imaginations and emotions. Children can identify with the story’s characters and learn valuable lessons about empathy, self-awareness, and communication.
Children’s books have the power to elicit our imaginations through a story. When a child hears a situation or a problem in a story, they can relate to them, connect to the experience, and learn social emotional learning strategies similar to those characters.
Tips for using children’s books to teach SEL.
- Select a variety of SEL children’s books (or video versions of the books read aloud).
- Connect the books to the social emotional learning strategies your class is currently learning.
- Develop a collection of SEL books and organize them in one location.
- Before and after a read-aloud, display SEL books on the classroom bookshelf.
- Try an SEL book companion resource to help support your instruction and go further with the topic!
5 – Meaningful “Play”
Play is essential for children to develop social-emotional skills in the classroom. It can help them learn to manage their emotions, build empathy, and communication skills.
It can help them develop the ability to self-regulate their emotions and understand the feelings of others. When engaged in cooperative play, kids learn to work together, listen, and take turns, which helps them learn to understand the perspectives of others.
Play can also help children develop problem-solving skills as they work together to navigate challenges and obstacles. Whether building a tower of blocks or solving a puzzle, children can learn to collaborate and think creatively to achieve a shared goal.
Role-play is an excellent way to practice social skills. They practice a skill by acting out situations
given to them. Opportunities to “try out” experiences offer children the practice they need to feel
confident and ready if those situations arise.
Creative ways to incorporate play into the school day.
- Try acting out scenarios through role play activities. This activity encourages kids to problem-solve in real time and think through experiences before they occur.
- Social skills games and board games that promote social and emotional skills, such as cooperation, communication, and empathy, can be a fun and engaging way to incorporate SEL into the school day.
- Create opportunities for group projects and activities where kids work together through play.
- Playground games and P.E. are excellent times for kids to work on cooperation in social groups. They require students to work together towards a common goal, which can help them develop teamwork, communication, and problem-solving skills.
- Give students open-ended “free” time or center time when they can play constructively. Provide activities for them to complete while working together with a partner.
6 – Emphasize Kindness & Social Awareness
Kindness and social awareness are two of the most important social topics we can promote. When children lack the social skills to show or understand kindness and empathy, they may struggle to navigate through situations that arise at school.
Kindness starts with us! This has a powerful impact when children see us act with kindness and understanding when we interact and behave!
Encourage kids to show each other kindness in random, unexpected ways. Acts of kindness challenge is an excellent opportunity for this!
Organize a challenge during one week or month of the school year.
Plan the challenge together or in small groups. Come up with different ways to show kindness.
Execute the plan and complete the challenge!
Simple ways to encourage kindness and social awareness.
- Discuss ways to be intentionally kind in the classroom, school, and community (i.e., being kind to ourselves and others, generosity, and random acts of kindness).
- Listen attentively and show respect for ideas and perspectives.
- Develop and set up a “kindness classroom”
- Offer help to classmates who are struggling with assignments or concepts.
- Encourage and support classmates when they succeed or when they are feeling down.
- Speak kindly and respectfully to others, even in moments of frustration or disagreement.
- Share materials with classmates who may not have access to them.
- Be inclusive and welcoming to classmates from diverse backgrounds.
- Be patient and understanding with classmates who may learn at a different pace or in another way.
- Show gratitude and appreciation for teachers, staff, and classmates.
- Take responsibility for one’s actions and acknowledge mistakes.
- Choose to act compassionately and empathize with others, even in challenging situations.
Incorporating social emotional learning strategies into your teaching practices can help create a supportive and inclusive learning environment that fosters students’ social and emotional growth.
Social-Emotional Learning Resources
If you are ready to invest in your student’s social and emotional well-being, then the mind+heart Social-Emotional Learning curriculum is for you!
Check out the detailed preview in-store for the scope and sequence, lesson topics, see the activities included, and imagine the positive change it can bring.
Free Social-Emotional Learning Ebook
Learn 9 ways to transform your classroom with social-emotional learning in the FREE Guide for Teachers! It is filled with actionable tips and strategies, insightful ideas to get you started, and free printable templates and activities you can use in your classroom immediately!
Simply click the image below to get your FREE copy.
More SEL Classroom Ideas
PIN for Later
FREE Social Emotional Learning Email Series
Sign up for the social emotional learning email course filled with tips to get you started, lesson and activity ideas, PLUS tons of FREE resources you can access right away. Everything you need to teach social skills and emotional literacy in the classroom!