As schools adopt SEL curriculum, it is vital that this learning doesn’t occur in a vacuum. For students to develop lasting social-emotional skills, schools must do their best to provide parents and guardians with the information, language, and tools they need to continue learning at home.
Recently, three members of the Thriving YOUniversity team sat down to discuss the importance of involving parents in school or district-wide SEL initiatives.
Why is SEL Important
The pandemic has made it clear that students need conflict resolution, emotional literacy, and resilience skills. Students and staff alike are struggling with higher levels of depression and anxiety than ever before.
Thriving YOUniversity Lead Climate Coach Liz Toruno noted, “SEL is more important than ever because students need to know what skills are needed to be able to self-regulate when facing adversity. We should not wait until students are struggling with anxiety and depression to give them the tools; the time is now!”
Added Lead Learning Coach Jessie Fuller, “after being away from peers for a sustained amount of time, students are finding it difficult to communicate and interact with peers in healthy ways. We don’t want to teach kids what not to do, but rather equip them with pro-social skills, so they know what to do.”
“Many kids and adults are hungry for a sense of meaning, purpose, belonging, and connection in their lives. SEL gives us the skills that we need to strengthen our emotional intelligence and resilience and navigate the highs and lows of life,’ said Joelle Hood, Thriving YOUniversity’s Chief Empowerment Officer.
Bridging with Home
Parent engagement is a priority area for most schools. As schools and districts adopt and develop curricula and approaches to social-emotional learning, it provides an excellent opportunity to connect with parents and create a sense of community.
Offering SEL workshops for parents not only provides opportunities for engaging them, but when the parents and teachers share a common language around social-emotional learning, it helps strengthen the student’s understanding.
“What better way to empower parent voice and build belonging and connection among parents than with an SEL training? The format of our sessions delivers SEL content and offers parents a way to connect and collaborate. It also provides school leaders with an opportunity to build relationships with parents,” said Joelle Hood, Thriving YOUniversity’s Chief Empowerment Officer.
Additionally, offering SEL training to parents helps them develop and strengthen their own social-emotional learning, which is a win for everyone.
“As a parent, I know that I can’t model and teach what I don’t first practice. Actions speak so much louder than words. I have to grow my own social-emotional skills, so my kids not only hear me telling them to stay calm but see me practice it in an overwhelming moment. They don’t just hear me tell them to extend empathy and understanding, but to see me show it to someone else that may have a very different perspective than me,” said Fuller.
Important Skills for Parents
It is essential to offer training and workshops that center on SEL tools and strategies that busy parents can implement quickly and effectively.
“In our training sessions, we share resources with parents — simple activities like Family Check-in Questions that they can do around the dinner table or while they are riding in the car,” said Hood. “We teach parents the importance of cultivating a predictable environment by having clear expectations in the home and establishing routines and rituals.”
“Schedules, routines, and procedures to help their students stay on track are very important,” agreed Toruno. “Parents can also practice empathy statements and affective statements in the home. Learning about their own emotions can help parents understand how their feelings are contagious at home. It will also help them better understand their children’s emotions.”
“I think one simple, profound thing we can do as parents is to ask our children regularly how they feel and to help them get specific about the emotions they experience,” said Fuller. “Language matters, and helping our children develop a wide emotional vocabulary can be hugely empowering.”
Incorporating school-wide SEL can positively impact student learning and outcomes. Involving parents in the process will amplify these outcomes.
“Students are learning SEL from some teachers some of the time. While this is better than no SEL, when parents and educators work together to build these skills in themselves and students, everyone wins. The SEL strategies learned at school are reinforced at home and vice versa. When parents and educators are intentional about strengthening SEL, that is where the magic happens,” said Hood.
Want to bring Thriving YOUniversity to your campus to provide staff or parent SEL training? Please fill out our inquiry form.PD Inquiry