It’s true. I said it. Social and emotional skills are actually more important than academic skills. Of course, academics matter. But the truth is that social and emotional skills are actually a prerequisite to success in the classroom (and outside of the classroom, too). Skills like empathy, self-awareness, managing emotions, and decision-making are some of the most important skills kids and young adults need to learn.
Of course, all educators want students to be academically successful. We want our learners to
Sometimes, in our data-driven and
This mindset is
If we want our learners to excel academically, we need to pave the way for them to excel socially and emotionally, first. It’s important to make time for teaching and integrating skills like empathy, conflict resolution, and decision-making into the classroom.
Here are some reasons to consider why social and emotional skills are actually more important than academics:
Learners need SEL skills to work with others. There are an endless amount of social expectations in the classroom. When students work with classmates, they have to get along with others, read social cues, communicate effectively, perspective-take, and use conflict resolution strategies during disagreements. If students struggle with these skills, it can often be a huge roadblock to their success, even sometimes creating behavioral challenges that get in the way of others’ instruction. Of course, those skills listed are all social and emotional skills that can be taught and practiced throughout the year.
Learners need SEL skills for academic instruction and work. During class instruction and schoolwork, learners are expected to stay organized, start work right away, manage time well, plan for assignments, use effective study strategies, and persevere through challenges. These are all examples of self-management skills that can be taught and strengthened through social and emotional learning practices.
Students need to know how to effectively manage their emotions. On a day-to-day basis, kids and young adults go through a roller coaster of emotions. We all do. Those with strong self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and coping strategies can deal with those ups and downs in more effective ways to allow for success in and outside of the classroom. For example, if a student constructive criticism on a project they are working on, rather than shutting down or refusing to work, they might reflect, take some deep breaths, and make a plan to move forward. These emotional management skills are a core element of social and emotional learning, as well as critical needs for academic success.
Without social and emotional skills, even the strongest academic skills won’t be enough. It doesn’t take a research study to show that people struggle when they don’t have strong social skills. As humans, we need to know how to get along with others, perspective-take, and problem-solve. In the workplace, we need to know how to stay organized, do our fair share of the work, and meet deadlines. Without these skills, even the brightest and most academically gifted learners will have bumps in the road.
Luckily, it is not an either-or situation. As educators, we can teach social and emotional skills while teaching solid academics at the very same time. There is room for both. And when there is not enough room for
If you are interested in teaching
Here are some other blog posts that may help you as you learn about integrating social and emotional learning in the classroom:
- 15+ Benefits of
Social EmotionalLearning in the Classroom
- Using Games to Teach
- 100+ Free Social Emotional Learning Resources
- 25 Ways to Integrate Social Emotional Learning
- 100+ Read Alouds to Teach Social Emotional Learning Skills