Social emotional learning is such an important topic. It is going to be even more important with kids returning back to school soon. But where exactly do you start with social emotional skills activities especially for your child or students?
Eek! I am so excited because on today’s episode I got to interview one of my very good CEO teacher buddies. Her name is Shannon and she loves everything about social emotional skills. I have never met a more inspiring and caring person and I hope you love her as much as I do.
A Little About Shannon
Q: Tell us a little about yourself, what you do, and your life as a mom.
Absolutely, my name is Shannon. I am a wife, mom, and social emotional learning coach. We live in North Carolina. I live with my husband, 2 year old son, and another little boy on the way any day now. I’ve been in elementary education for 10 years. Even though I left the classroom last year to be home with our boys, I have not left education.
As parents and teachers, we don’t want to see our children struggling with behavior issues or making bad decisions. We don’t want to see them not knowing how to manage their emotions. We want our children to be kind. To reach their goals, problem solve, resolve conflict effectively, and have healthy relationships. All those things are social emotional skills. It is my passion to help parens and teachers get started with social emotional learning. I’ve seen first hand, year after year, how crucial it is to a child’s success and happiness.
I currently run a social emotional learning program called the Made to Be Me membership. This is where I provide fully planned, zero prep, social emotional lessons and resources. It is so important to me that anyone who wants to get started with social emotional learning can. Through the Made to Be Me membership, I eliminate all of the common roadblocks that teachers or homeschooling parents face. This makes it super easy for them to get started.
Her Social Emotional Business Idea
Q: How did you start your business? Where did the idea come from?
The idea for my business…came from, I guess have you ever thought how do I avoid messing up my kid. How do I keep my baby safe? How do I prepare them for a happy and successful life? I think most of us as parents have thought that and as much as we always want to be there for our children we can’t be.
So, then the next question becomes, how do I best prepare them? It was in asking myself those questions that I came back to what I had known. What I saw in the classroom for years which is our children need social emotional skills and development.
When I was in the classroom, I wanted to do what was best for my students and for my child at home. It was so important to me to have energy left at the end of the day for my son. But, I found that I was leaving work drained after helping my students work through behavior issues due to the lack of social emotional skills. I knew I had to find a way to take care of my students and my family. So, I began to incorporate intentional and specific social emotional skill lessons and it was a complete change.
I was able to thrive with my child at home, my students were doing better than ever, and I really got to see firsthand how truly powerful and informative social emotional skills are in a child’s life. The students who were able to communicate clearly, manage their emotions and behaviors, the kids who could empathize with other students, they were excelling far beyond their peers both academically and socially.
They had more friends, they were happier, and they were able to access more academic opportunities so, it was really through that deep emotionally desire to not only prepare my child but to help other parents and teachers do the same that the idea for the Made to Be Me membership was born and now I get to live out that dream and make it really easy for parents and educators to prepare the next generation with the skills they need to have the best future possible.
Social Emotional Skill Benefits
Q: Why is social emotional learning important for kids?
Social emotional skills are really important to begin teaching our kids. They are the building blocks, the pillars, the cornerstone of really raising capable learners who are able to navigate life well. Whether it’s learning academically or playing in the sandbox our children need skills like self-control, problem solving, empathy, perseverance, conflict resolution, and to know how to communicate clearly to navigate life.
Q: What are some things you would suggest parents to work on before sending their kids to school or maybe starting virtual learning?
In my opinion, before sending kids back to school whether that’s virtual or in person, or maybe if your child is a few years away from starting school, some core things that we as parents can work on are having our children identify their emotions and asking for help. I can break down a little bit what that looks like for us as parents.
I would say first helping our children identify their emotions would be helping them know what it feels like physically and mentally when we’re sad, angry, surprised, happy, scared, safe. So having that discussion about what it feels like when you have a certain emotion. So for example, when we’re angry or upset we really feel our chest getting hot, we may feel stinging or watering coming to our eyes, we may tighten our hands. When we feel angry our minds may feel cloudy and it could be hard to focus, so describing those feelings, both mental and physical, when our children are calm and not experiencing the emotion can really help them identify later when it does happen.
The second thing I would suggest is once our children are able to identify how their feeling and identify emotions, we want them to know it’s okay to feel whatever they’re feeling. There’s no wrong emotions. But we do also want our children to understand that while there are no wrong emotions there are right and wrong reactions to those emotions. So, it’s okay and normal to be angry that our toy broke, but it’s not okay to throw our toy across the room.
The third step is talking through with them what are healthy responses, what are healthy reactions to the problems. Those three things will really help your child be cued in to how their feeling. Now of course all of these would be at an age appropriate level for your child. A 3 year old is not going to be able to communicate the same way that a 5 or 6 year old might be able to. So, those would be the first things I would suggest.
If your child is doing really well with those skills, I would recommend preparing your child for school by teaching them how to ask for help. So, letting our children know that it’s okay to ask for help when their having those really big feelings and they don’t know what to do is really important. It gives them the next step. Instead of maybe having a negative behavior reaction, they can talk to themselves and say “Okay, I have a really big feeling and don’t know what to do. I’m going to ask for help.”
This year especially, I would recommend that we as parents check in regularly with our kids about how their feeling. Just like us through all of this craziness, what was a task that was maybe manageable and no big deal yesterday, today may feel completely overwhelming. One aspect of school that was easy today may be really frustrating and overstimulating tomorrow. So, being open to our children’s needs and helping them process their emotions will be really big this year.
We don’t want our kids to ignore and internalize the negative stressors of what their going through. So, as parents some things we can do to prevent that would be just talking through their emotions, asking them how their day is going. Reminding them that it’s okay to feel that way, offering helpful suggestions, and just really listening to their concerns. So, that would be what I would suggest parents to work on with their kids before starting school – whatever that may look like this year.
Q: What is the most important aspect of social emotional learning?
As far as the most important aspect of social emotional learning, whew that’s a tough one. So there are five main areas or competencies of social emotional learning. They are self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making. While all of those are a piece of the puzzle of helping us live happy, fulfilling lives. I really believe everything stems back to self-awareness.
It is the most basic building block of all the social emotional skills. Once we are able to be aware of how we’re feeling and how our thoughts and emotions impact our behavior, then we’re really able to build on that. We begin to use other skills like self-management. We can become social aware of those same emotions in other people and develop that empathy. It helps us to build healthy relationships and make responsible decisions. So, as you look at that list they are definitely all crucial skills, but I think it starts with self-awareness. Kind of like what we were talking about earlier. Helping our children identify how their feeling, how their thoughts and emotions are impacting them and their behavior.
Find Out More About Social Emotional Skills
Q: Tell people where they can find you to learn more.
If any of your listeners have any questions or what to chat, I love talking with parents and educators. They can reach out at any time. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find me on everywhere @shannonmareeteaching and I would love to hear from you!
I cannot stress enough how important social-emotional learning will be this year! This school year will be unlike anything we have seen before. Some of our kiddos may need a little extra love. I encourage you to follow Shannon. She gives easy and quick tips to help you with your child and/or students with social-emotional skills. Peace, love, and bear hugs and I will see you back here real soon!
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