Emotional social learning teaches children to have strong emotions

Ridgeway Elementary School students practice a little during SEL Day celebrations. (Photo courtesy of Manchester Schools)

MANCHESTER – Since Emotional Social Learning (SEL) has been shown to improve students ’knowledge, behavior, and presence, it was only right that student participation be celebrated as part of International SEL Day.

Students will learn to focus, cope with stress, and how to interact with each other, and this has become even more important as they tackle the mental health issues associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recently, Manchester Primary Schools celebrated International SEL Day, where students participate in SEL events throughout the day.

Activities focused on the five competencies for emotional social learning identified by the New Jersey Department of Education, which include: self-awareness, self-management, responsible decision-making, social awareness, and relationship skills.

Ridgeway School Counselor Melanie Janeike and Deputy Principal Kerry Young designed lessons for the event and showcased resources based on this year’s SEL Day theme: “Finding common ground, pursuing common good.”

The artwork was also part of many SEL Day events at Manchester Township schools. (Photo courtesy of Manchester Schools)

Students visited the day from each class at their class level to learn more about emotional social learning. At the height of the day was the presentation of the brainstorming exercises on the school’s extended board program by Chelsea Greenstein. She guided the students through a series of poses and breathing techniques to help the students in the practice of vigilance.

Kindergarten students enjoyed a number of classroom activities, some of which included watching a video about sympathy on Sesame Street. Older students completed online activities and filled out worksheets asking them to fill out a rainbow and a pot of gold with positive things about themselves.

Manchester Township Elementary School extended SEL Day to a full month and started it with Superhero Day and discussed how everyone can use their higher powers to do good to others and feel comfortable in their own skin.

School principal Linda Waldron said one of their teachers was wearing a captain’s underwear, which she said was the perfect example of feeling comfortable in your skin.

Student ambassadors from each class met with the mentor, Ms. Smisek, and the principal. They talked about SEL and shared the discussion with their class. Students were also asked about their comfort at MTES.

The mentor will review the results and plans to share them with staff and students at their next meeting through their ambassadors.

SEL Day was celebrated at each of Manchester Township’s schools and focused on celebrating Social Emotional Learning. (Photo courtesy of Manchester Schools)

Meanwhile, at Whiting Elementary School, students were grouped according to their grade level – (k-2) and (3-5) – according to a schedule of engaging learning activities, each centered around one of SEL’s competencies.

Students created their own calm pots and stress balls that could be used to regulate frustration or anger. They went on a Mindfulness walk that allowed them to create a clear and positive mind. One station was empathetic and used a variety of scenarios to teach how one can empathize with another. Students created a craft that allows students to recognize their abilities, thoughts, and feelings.

“Emotional Social Learning Day is a great opportunity for our students to learn the skills and knowledge they need to know and understand their emotions. Our students enjoyed working with our staff and their classmates. Whiting Elementary is looking forward to celebrating it again next year! Director Evelyn Swift said.

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