5 Ways to Make Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Easy

Are you a teacher, counselor, or school psychologist needing to provide Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) to your students? Providing SEL to children does not not have to be so stressful! It also does not have to be so rigid, boring, or scripted. With the right tools, and around 15-45 minutes per week, it can be helpful to your students and EASY to provide!

So, What is Social-Emotional Learning Exactly?

Social-emotional learning (SEL) is the process of developing the self-awareness, self-control, and interpersonal skills that are vital for school, work, and life success. SEL is important because people with well developed social-emotional skills are better able to cope with their emotions and interact with others well. The skills taught as part of SEL are life-skills that children will need for both school success and success in life.

There are several ways to incorporate SEL into your week.

You can make Social Emotional Learning both specific instruction and a part of your weekly or even daily classroom routines. For easy instruction on most SEL topics, videos are an easy, but really great way to go. With the right age-appropriate videos, students can learn on a variety of topics as a whole class. Videos can help facilitate discussions and provide modeling of other children demonstrating a skill. Some videos also have students practice skills, such as breathing techniques or yoga, so videos really can offer great SEL instruction.

Here are some of the videos from my Tk-2 SEL Videos list.

The list is links to YouTube videos that I recommend and use myself as a school psychologist for classroom SEL and small group counseling. There is also a 3-5 monthly SEL Videos list in my Teachers pay Teacher’s Store, Counseling Fanny Pack of Fun.

SEL Video
SEL Video
Empathy Game

Daily Emotions Check-In

Emotions Check-In

Emotional Check-Ins are an easy way to help students learn to pause and identify their own feelings during the school day. Check-Ins are generally used in the morning, but can be used at any time in the day when you want students to practice self-reflection. Emotional Check-ins are a great tool and can really help incorporate SEL into your class’ daily routine.

Emotions Check-In

Check-ins are also a helpful tool for teachers because it is a non-verbal way for children to communicate when they might be feeling sad, tired, or grumpy by moving their name or clip to the emotion they are feeling. This way, their teacher can know to have a personal check-in discussion with them to help the student. As teachers, you are the first line of identification for mental health or family issues because you see your students daily. If there is a bigger concern or need for intervention beyond SEL, you are the person to likely make that referral.

SEL with Weekly Restorative Circles

Restorative Circles

Circles are a way for students to regularly interact with one another in a way that is respectful, supportive, and fosters a sense of community within a classroom. Circles can be used to build rapport amongst your students, teach them turn taking and listening skills, and help them to learn conflict resolution skills when there are incidents that can be addressed within the circle.

This is when the SEL Circle becomes the restorative Circle, as students learn to restore balance, fairness, and relationships when issues can be addressed as a class. Circles can address incidents of bullying, disputes between peers, and with making class choices.

Circle Recommendations:

•Do circles 1-3x per week, on a consistent basis.

•Make a large circle that goes around the entire classroom or large carpet area. Students can sit or stand.

•Use a talking piece, such as stuffed animal, small plush, special classroom item, etc.

•Holding the talking piece indicates that it is your turn to share.

Ask students to:

•Speak honestly

•Listen to others with respect (quietly, look at speaker)

•Show respect for other people’s ideas and different opinions.

•Try to share, but if you need to pass, try to think of something for when the stick returns to you at the end.

•The circle is a special time for sharing and is just for their classroom. So, please do not discuss anything outside of the classroom with each other or other students.

Social Emotional Learning GAMES!!!

Coping Skills Game

Games are another great way to support your students with their Social and Emotional Learning. Some games, such as Anger BINGO can be done whole class. Most games, however, are best done in a small group setting and can be incorporated during small group rotations. SEL games aren’t just regular old Candy Land. They are games that are designed to teach SEL skills, provide practice of skills, and/or facilitate discussion of a topic. Here are two games that are included in my SEL Activity Book for grades Tk-2 and SEL Activity Book for grades 3-5.

Social Stories can be great for individual students with SEL needs

Social Story

The goal of this social story to share information in a way that makes sense to children in order to help them understand their own experiences. Stories are often is in first person, which encourages the development of empathy and understanding of how their behaviors make others (teacher included) feel.

Social stories can be for students who have specific issues or concerns, but some may also work for the whole class. Some stories that are available in my TpT store address SEL areas, such as controlling anger, personal space, making friends, and sharing. They are all coloring books, so they can be a fun and easy activity that can be personalized for each individual student that is struggling in a specific area of social skills or behavior.

Where to Start

If you like one or more of these ideas, but do not feel like you have time, then just do whichever one you like for yourself the best. SEL does not have to be some rigid program. It is about giving children information and providing opportunities for growth and practice throughout the school year.

With so much to do every day and week, it may seem hard to fit SEL into your week. However, with short videos, daily emotions check-ins, circles 1-3x per week, and an occasional game plugged into your small group rotations, it really can be effectively provided with only 15-45 minutes per week. It just takes a little planning and a desire to provide this valuable information to students. Its all about helping these little human become well developed and adjusted big humans one day after all.

If you’d like to check out one of my SEL books, social stories, or games, please check out my Teachers pay Teachers store, Counseling Fanny Pack of Fun!

Are you a teacher, counselor, or school psychologist needing to provide Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) to your students? Providing SEL to children does not not have to be so stressful! It also does not have to be so rigid, boring, or scripted. With the right tools, and around 15-45 minutes per week, it can be helpful…

Are you a teacher, counselor, or school psychologist needing to provide Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) to your students? Providing SEL to children does not not have to be so stressful! It also does not have to be so rigid, boring, or scripted. With the right tools, and around 15-45 minutes per week, it can be helpful…