It is no coincidence that as schools recognize the need to teach more social and emotional skills, publishers have begun to release an increasing number of books featuring these themes. Social-emotional learning, it turns out, must be explicitly taught. It is not a concept children will understand innately. For years, guidance counselors in schools have been using social-emotional learning activities during short classroom sessions. It is apparent now, however, that teachers must also include this methodology among their resources since they have daily, ongoing access to children. Children tend to work better in a classroom community when these skills are learned together. They can do this by reading picture books to establish a common base of understanding.
Social-emotional learning activities in the classroom
- Clear instructions so children understand expectations
- Supporting students until they become independent
- Practicing how to treat others through books
- Modeling rules and expectations
- Validating and encouraging feelings and emotions in the classroom
- Guiding children toward reflection
Books for social-emotional learning
Children's relationships during the early years can actually shape their brains by forming circuits that affect academic performance, mental health, and interpersonal skills. Picture books are one of the best ways to help children with social-emotional learning because they allow children to see things through other children's eyes. This can create empathy and self-regulation. Examples of� great books to use in the classroom include
- The Invisible Boy (Ludwig)
- Each Kindness (Woodson)
- The Juice Box Bully: Empowering Kids to Stand Up For Others (Sornson and Dismondy)
- The Most Magnificent Thing (Spires)
- Stand Tall, Molly Lou Mellon (Lovell)
Schools create critical environments that help students develop social awareness and the value of emotional understanding in their interpersonal lives. Social-emotional learning can further help students develop the understanding, strategies, and skills that support a positive sense of self, promote respectful relationships, and build student capacity to recognize and manage their own emotions and make responsible decisions.
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