Back to School: Tips for Cultivating Social-Emotional Learning


Let’s think beyond the back-to-school logistics for a moment--put aside the homework, early wake-up calls, and overloaded book bags. Let’s expand our scope to include social and emotional learning this school year to help our kids grow into strong, confident, understanding learners--in school and beyond.  

Here are four things you can do to encourage strength-based growth for your kids and students.

1. Ask Questions to Encourage Curiosity

Children who ask questions will learn to anticipate both problems and solutions. A willingness to explore and test new concepts will unearth countless opportunities for children and they’ll develop an analytic skill that can be transferred to school and beyond. Model that behavior by asking open-ended questions about stories you read and hear to help children learn how to think critically and creatively. 

2. Set a Reading Routine for Confidence and Belonging

If you can, take your kids to the local bookstore and let them pick out a brand new picture book, chapter book, or graphic novel--let it be anything that speaks to them! Giving them agency over what they read will grow their confidence and keep them happily exploring new texts. Then, bring your family together with a fun and engaging read aloud session after dinner or on a weekend afternoon that the kids are sure to love. Get everyone involved in their favorite part!

3. Set Goals for the School Year 

Help your kids think through what is important to them. Is it reading more words or minutes than last year? Maybe their goal is to make a new friend or join a Scout troop. These are awesome examples that exhibit kindness and the idea of belonging to a community--both of which can and should be developed. Whatever their interests, help them set smart, reachable goals for their year. 

4. Understand and Recognize Courage

Back to school can be a difficult transition time. Learning, even when in a routine, can be hard for some kids. The struggles children face, whether it is bullying, difficulty in a sleep routine, or just getting through school, are very real. It takes courage and confidence to handle these hiccups as a kid. Reinforce their positive behavior and ensure them that they are not alone.

When we focus on finding kids’ inherent strengths, allow them to make choices, and teach them to be resilient, you are providing the foundation for powerfully positive ways of communicating and interacting with the world. In this way, we can help all children define their story and find their path to achieve their dreams.