Social Emotional Learning Programs: Creating Mindful Students
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This paper sets out to look at the important role social emotional learning programs play in educational settings. It explores various SEL programs including: Mind Up, Second Step, FRIENDS for Life, Zones of Regulation and The Incredible Five Point Scale. This study looks at how these programs support the increasing need to provide today’s students’ tools and strategies to foster mindfulness and develop intrapersonal and interpersonal competencies. In today’s complex and changing society, it is imperative that schools partner with parents to teach social and emotional competencies. Teaching students how to deal with the overload of stressors in their lives opens the door to understanding successful attitudes and behaviors. These research- based programs anchored in neuroscience teach students to use metacognition to support the idea that as human beings they have ultimate control over what they think and how they feel. When students have good insight into their own states, they are able to reflect and respond with an increased level of awareness; a life long skill that will serve them in becoming responsible global citizens. Research indicates that SEL programs create strong, healthy classrooms and school cultures; creating a warm and caring environment where students are able to take risks in both their social and academic learning. Schools provide the perfect social emotional learning setting and research shows that when students are calm and ready to learn they are able to retain and transfer learning in a more productive and permanent way. SEL programs teach self and social awareness, self-management, relationship skills and responsible decision- making. Teaching students to solve problems in peaceful ways will create strong future leaders who will be able to lead with both heart and mind. This paper also explores how social emotional learning programs help to create optimism and positive self-concept. Helping students to understand how to be mindful opens the door to self -reflection and the powerful skills of listening, communication and perspective taking. In understanding metacognition, students are better able to understand themselves, their body and mind connection and their very important role on life’s stage.