Social-emotional skills such as empathy, compassion, and patience are important to build in the classroom. Here are ways for teachers to encourage kids through morning meeting, modeling, life skill training, and bucket filler activities.
Ways to Develop Social-Emotional Skills in the Classroom
Raising heart-centered students is key to helping children develop critical social-emotional skills such as empathy, compassion, and patience. It’s no secret that teachers have a lot on their plates but fostering social-emotional skills in students is a worthwhile investment. The earlier we begin this process, the stronger the returns.
So how do we ensure that our classrooms are not only centers of academic learning but also of character development? Here are five ideas that can be implemented in any primary classroom.
1. Teach Social-Emotional Skills during Morning Meetings
Starting the day with a morning meeting is a great way to set the tone for the day. It provides an opportunity for you to hear from each student, get a sense of how they are feeling, and make mental notes of anyone who may need an individual check-in that day. You can incorporate character development, social skills, community building, and academic content in your meetings. The possibilities are endless!
2. Practice Social-Emotional Skills Vocabulary
Being intentional about the vocabulary you use can help students develop a habit of using common language. Using positive phrasing and consistent messages will help the students know what is expected and feel safe in your classroom. The children will also emulate your language, tone, and mannerisms, which is an awesome responsibility and an opportunity to help them build good habits (much easier than breaking bad habits!).
Make sure you choose your words carefully and phrase them as positively as possible (“please walk” instead of “don’t run”). Vocabulary is an integral part of building social-emotional skills.
3. Life Skills and Training
Life and social-emotional skills training are important in raising-heart centered students. Playing games that focus on listening skills, kindness, and emotions will help students learn important social-emotional skills in the classroom.
Teach social-emotional learning lessons to build important skills each day. This guide to teaching social-emotional learning in the classroom offers a variety of helpful articles, free resources, and a list of children’s books to teach important life skills.
4. Be “Bucket Fillers”
The concept of Bucket Fillers is a great, concrete way to help young students understand the effects of their words and actions. The book Have You Filled a Bucket Today?: A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids introduces students to the idea of carrying an imaginary bucket. When the bucket is full, they are happy. The best way to fill your bucket is by filling someone else’s. If you take out (dip) from someone else’s bucket, then your bucket empties out too. It’s a simple way for children to understand and develop empathy.
Do you want to encourage your students to act with kindness and encouragement? Teach them to be bucket fillers in the classroom! Use the bucket filler books and fun activities to teach your students why they should always encourage others and treat others with respect.
5. Social-Emotional Skills Modeling
The importance of modeling positive behavior, especially for primary teachers, cannot be overemphasized. Children at this young age look up to their teachers immensely and they do not miss much. It is both a great responsibility and a great opportunity. Practice patience, admit your mistakes and demonstrate for your students how they can learn and grow from their experiences.
Build a classroom where social-emotional skills are focused on and nurtured by using a social-emotional learning curriculum with a variety of lessons and activities.
Looking for some books to share with your students to help teach social-emotional skills? Check out these engaging titles for primary students!
Too Shy for Show-and-Tell (Little Boost)The Girl Who Never Made MistakesA Sick Day for Amos McGeeThe Invisible BoyAngry Octopus: Children Learn How to Control Anger, Reduce Stress and Fall Asleep Faster.
More Ideas for Teaching Social-Emotional Skills
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