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Social and Emotional Learning: A Holistic Way to Develop Skills

11 Apr 2023 12:41 PM | Anonymous

Social and Emotional Learning: A Holistic Way to Develop Skills

Our surroundings have a great influence on how we perceive and act on the challenges that we face. The constant frustration arising out of these challenges affect an individual in all aspects of their life. Still, people are less attentive to giving priority to understanding one’s emotions. The unavailability of emotional support makes it hard to cope up with these challenges and differences arise from them.  

From the initial years of childhood to the crucial teenage years, an individual goes through various changes (physical, emotional & intellectual). It is evident that during this phase, most of the topics of discussion turned into an altercation between two parties. This increases the chances of misunderstanding and miscommunication. Peer pressure and societal pressure makes them insecure and burdens them with feelings of loneliness, stress, depression and anguish. They find themselves aloof from the whole society. This also has further implications such as reduced interest in learning, apathy toward challenges, and involvement in negative social behaviours.

There is no doubt that these kinds of circumstances were prevalent before the COVID-19 pandemic but they have been aggravated in the post-pandemic period not only in India but around the globe as well. Therefore, it becomes really difficult for students to get used to the new normal. In this scenario the idea of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) becomes more prominent, with its focus on helping students to understand, feel, and express their emotions. 

Social Emotional Learning

Activities: Experential learning

The whole idea of SEL and experiential learning became really crucial in recent times. The ASER 2019 data provides quantitative evidence to assess SEL of young children in India. The study was conducted across 26 districts in 24 states and in 14 languages covering a wide range of cultural and social diversities. The results reveal both the limited skills that children acquire in SEL, therefore both the ASER 2019 report and further the National Education policy (NEP) 2020 emphasize on the need for integrating it into the education system.

Social-emotional Learning (SEL) is defined as “the process through which children and adults learn and apply a set of social, emotional, behavioural, and character skills required to succeed in schooling, workplace, relationships, and citizenship”. SEL is a method of teaching which is done through a variety of playful activities that involves full participation and engagement of the children. It keeps itself aside from the conventional methodologies which is primarily one-way (teacher-oriented) and focused more on academics. This enables them to build positive relationships with their peers and make rational decisions. SEL is not a practice in isolation; it requires involvement of a number of different stakeholders. Therefore, according to the Casel’s SEL Framework, the social and emotional skills can be imparted in classrooms and schools which requires support from families and the community. This will ensure a holistic development of the children. 

Sewa International Initiatives

Social and emotional learninge

Understanding its relevance and the need for it to be included in the education system, we have taken up the initiative by sponsoring the program “Rise” for giving SEL lessons to the 8th & 9th standard students from underserved backgrounds studying in different schools in Pune, Sangli and Kolhapur District. These lessons are given with the help of modules focusing on: 

  • Self-potential (identifying personal strengths & limitations)

  • Understanding mindsets

  • Role Model & Time Management

  • Smart Study techniques

  • Emotional Intelligence

  • Anger Management

  • Handling of peer pressure

  • Creating a Safe Environment


Activities: Experential learningActivities: Experential learning

The facilitators of this program are practicing experiential educators specialized in child and adolescent psychology. Therefore, the modules are designed to use experiential methods of learning through Task-based Activities, Presentations & Demonstrations, Ice-breakers & Group Games. Some of the activities we are doing while taking lessons are listed below:

  • Understanding Self-potential: Most of the time students demotivate themselves for a number of reasons mainly emerged by peer or societal pressure. The idea is to make students understand that there is more caliber in them and they just need to identify it. The activity intends the students to stretch both of their hands. Few of the  students end up standing on the bench and others follow them. This signifies that each one of us has scope to improve further and that each one of us has untapped potential.

  • Mindset: In making students understand Carol Dweck’s theory of Fixed vs Growth Mindset, they are given different situations to explore their thoughts, feelings and behaviour under both mindsets. It gives a new lens to students to check their day-to-day behaviour. In the feedback session, almost 15/20 students mention that this module has helped them deal with failures and perceived limitations. 

  • Here and Now Application: At the Kolhapur session, a ball hit a student and in turn he hit it back. There was an exchange of heated words. The boy insisted that he didn’t hit first and many didn’t know about the other student. We invited the other student who was not even known to us to come forward and accept the mistake. We discussed how it was an opportunity to display the quality of being honest. The facilitator discussed with the students what made an environment a safe environment in 4 aspects - Physical, Social, Emotional, and Intellectual. The discussion then led to making a list of Do's and Don'ts within the classroom and school. It was a kind of behavioural contract between the student group. 

  • Value Based Decision Making: Discussing decision making case studies among the students by dividing them into four groups, giving them a situation and waiting for them to use their imaginations to come up with diverse solutions. The experience leads to making a list of words, understanding their meaning, and how to use them while making personal decisions.

Further after such sessions, assignments are given to them to explore their mindset daily by setting aside 10 minutes before sleep to reflect on their thoughts and behaviour. Such modules, therefore, focus on developing competencies of Self-awareness & Management, Responsible decision making and Relationship Skills among the students. Additionally, the initiative has been taken to involve parents in the development of children with more awareness. Further, the teachers can be given a new perspective of experiential learning other than their regular teaching. This will result in enabling greater engagement among teachers, parents, and students.

Our Initiative has benefitted approx. 204 students, including 102 boys and 92 girls. Our approach is to focus on building the emotional resilient individuals to promote prosocial behaviour. This corresponds to target 4.7 of Sustainable development goals. Despite these efforts, the awareness about the utility of the SEL remains meagre. There is a considerable need for the concerned stakeholders to take appropriate steps in integrating it in the education system. Apart from this, the parents and community should support and participate in taking up the small initiatives at the early stages of child development.

 - Neha Sehgal (Research Associate)


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