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Social-emotional learning (SEL) is a hot button item with Evidence Based Practice showing support for the need to teach social-emotional learning. CASEN has identified a problem within the current approach to social-emotional learning. The problem is different providers/stakeholders work in their individual silos which allows social-emotional learning gaps to be identified in the child. CASEN’s unique approach to helping children with social-emotional learning is to use a collaborative approach with a variety of stakeholders. The lessons were developed by educators and presented to physical, occupational, and speech therapists for consultation to see how to best serve the child. This approach provides inter collaborative educational lesson plans to meet the social-emotional needs of the whole child: the child is more than the sum of their parts.
The Social Network Wellness Academy teaches social wellness to children developmentally 9-13 years of age in a unique way. Each module takes a specific social media platform and presents the do’s and don’ts of that particular platform. There are guided lessons in each module that teaches one of the areas of social wellness. Social wellness provides the child an opportunity to navigate social media in a healthy way. Through the collaborative approach offered by the Social Network Wellness Academy, stakeholders are able to provide their individual expertise and feedback to the individualized lessons that CASEN provides to further improve the child’s strengths. Please view the infographic on what CASEN provides the stakeholders.
Social Network Wellness Academy Stakeholders
Students– As children move forward with their learning in the Social Network Wellness Academy, it is important that their mental, emotional, social, and physical wellbeing is developed in a safe, caring, supportive, focused environment. Social-Emotional Well-Being includes both individual capacities and social competencies.
Children and adolescent’s Social-Emotional Well-Being is reflected in their behaviors, thoughts, feelings and abilities (Jeba & Premraj, n.d.). Children identify with their feelings, how to manage their emotions, and use strategies to calm themselves; learn about relationships, relationships are based on mutual respect; rights and responsibilities; and learn about keeping themselves safe, including physical, emotional, and intellectual domains through the Social Network Wellness Academy.
As students interact with peers, Social Emotional Well-Being is supported through peer interactions and group activities. According to Pepler and Bierman (2018), peer relationships provide a unique context in which children learn a range of important social emotional skills such as empathy, cooperation, and problem-solving strategies. Through group activities, students learn how to resolve conflict with their peers. Peers are able to identify what it means to have meaningful relationships; how to regulate and express emotions to peers and adults; and to explore the environment to learn new skills.
Through CASEN Connect, students are able to learn how to appropriately structure sentences and complete thoughts to adequately send a message on social media. They start out with more structured sentences and progress to writing independent complete thoughts to post on social media. This is done through the monitoring of the teacher, administrator or course facilitator.
Through CASEN Outreach, students are aware of the dangers of social media and how they can be brought up on charges for breaking the law, even if they think their act was harmless. Students learn how they can become victims of child predators on social media. They are made aware of the different types of bullying and how to report it. Students are also made aware of “sexting” (sending sexually suggested or explicit images, videos, or text through social media, phones, or email) and how they can face federal charges, depending on the state.
Jeba, J., & Premraj, C. (n.d.). Social and emotional well being of adolescents. IOSR Journal of Humanities and Social Science. e-ISSN: 2279-0837. https://www.iosrjournals.org/iosr-jhss/papers/Conf.17004/Volume-3/10.%2056-59.pdf
Pepler, D., & Bierman, K. (2018). With a little help from my friends- The importance of peer relationships for social-emotional development. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. https://www.rwjf.org/en/library/research/2018/11/with-a-little-help-from-my-friends–the-importance-of-peer-relationships-for-social-emotional-development.html
Parents– Through the Social Network Wellness Academy, Parents have access to their child’s course content, material, and information, as well as their own parent account. However, students do not have access to the parent accounts. Parents gain support and resources to reinforce social wellness at home. Parents also have the opportunity to be a part of the parent support group where they can ask administrators, teachers and other parents questions, as well as provide answers to questions.
According to Social Development in Children (n.d.), to support social development in children, parents can:
- Talk with your child about social relationships and values by asking them about school and friends every day
- Allow children the opportunity to discuss social conflicts and problem-solve their reactions/actions
- Discuss the subject of bullying and harassment, both in person and on the Internet
- Allow older children to work out everyday problems on their own
- Keep the lines of communication open—as a parent, you want to make yourself available to listen and support your child in non-judgmental ways
Through CASEN Connect, Parents have access to their child’s social media accounts, as well as their own parent account. Parents are able to collaborate with other parents and administrators in their personal accounts. The parent personal account also functions as a parent support group.
Social Development in Children. (n.d.). Family Programs Scan of Virginia. https://scanfamilies.org/resource/social-development-in-children/
Teachers- Navigating and nurturing relationships is a part of the educational experience for both teachers and students. Teachers do not just instruct on the curriculum, they are invested with the students’ lives and well-being. SEL improves academic achievement; improves attitudes and behaviors with greater motivation to learn; fewer negative behaviors such as decreased aggression & disciplinary referrals; and reduces emotional distress with fewer reports of student depression, anxiety, stress, and social withdrawal (What have we learned, n.d.). Even the most modest investments in SEL can pay off for individuals, schools, and society.
According to What have we learned (n.d.), effective SEL approaches often incorporate four elements represented by the acronym SAFE:
- SEQUENCED: Connected and coordinated activities to foster skills development
- ACTIVE: Employing active forms of learning to help students strengthen new skills
- FOCUSED: Dedicated time and attention to developing personal and social skills
- EXPLICIT: Targeting specific social and emotional skills
CASEN addresses SAFE through activities that build social wellness. It is an interactive program that is focused on student development of personal and social skills. CASEN also helps students identify with their feelings and emotions.
What Have we Learned. (n.d.a). CASEL. https://casel.org/systemic-implementation/sel-in-the-classroom/
Administrators- District-level coordination and support of SEL is critical to ensuring meaningful educational experiences for all students. When districts partner with families and communities to develop standards and benchmarks for SEL learning, they are able to integrate SEL into academics, discipline, and student support. All students can benefit from SEL.
Systemic implementation of SEL in a school district can improve math scores and academic performance of reading; improve behavioral outcomes such as attendance and social-emotional competence, as well as, a decrease in suspensions; and improve school environments, as measured by district surveys (What have we learned, n.d.b).
What Have we Learned. (n.d.b). CASEL.
Occupational Therapists serve an important role in promoting Social-Emotional Learning through targeted levels of intervention. They have specialized knowledge of the interaction of a child’s contextual, psychosocial, and performance factors (The occupational therapy’s role in mental health promotion, prevention, & intervention with children & youth social and emotional learning (SEL), n.d.). Physical Therapists are movement specialists and they promote Social-Emotional Learning through physical activity and movement. This is done by creating modifications to physical activity to increase participation and access to those various activities. Speech-Language Therapists help manage children with Emotional Behavior Disorders (EBD). Many children often have speech and language disorders that may go untreated and the child with language disorders may exhibit problematic patterns of social behavior; increased risk for substance abuse; and negative encounters with the juvenile justice and prison systems (Armstrong, 2011)
Therapists/Counselors- School counselors promote social-emotional wellness and development for all students. According to the American School Counselor Association (2020) school counselors advocate for the mental health needs of all students by offering instruction that enhances awareness of mental health, addressing academic, career and social-emotional development; short-term counseling interventions; and referrals to community resources for long-term support.
Therapists/Counselors work with students on self-awareness, self-management/self-regulation, social awareness, relationship building, and decision making. Through the Network Wellness Academy, these concepts are reinforced with students which support the tools that the students are given by these providers.
The occupational therapy’s role in mental health promotion, prevention, & intervention with children & youth social and emotional learning (SEL). (n.d.). The American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc.
Community- According to Jones, Greenberg, and Crawley (2015), understanding early characteristics can be of great value in helping children develop into healthy adults. Healthy personal development through social-emotional learning is thought to combat public health problems such as substance abuse, obesity, and violence (Jones, Greenberg, & Crawley, 2015). Interpersonal skills are important for children to navigate social settings, and positive interactions with adults are essential for success. Jones, Greenberg and Crawley stated that success in school involves both social-emotional and cognitive skills, because social interactions, attention, and self-control affect readiness for learning. They also reported that enhancing the social-behavioral and learning environment of young children fosters positive child development, as well as altering adult health and labor market outcomes.
The community benefits through the Social Network Wellness Academy because the students will be able to assimilate into their respective environments with a more holistic approach. Students who learn to communicate clearly, cooperate with others and constructively learn to negotiate conflict are on their way to a successful future. The ability for students to learn how to communicate, engage productively, and to collaborate with others over time will be a great benefit to the community.
Jones, D. E., Greenberg, M., & Crawley, M. (2015). Early social-emotional functioning and public health: The relationship between kindergarten social competence and future wellness. AJPH. https://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/full/10.2105/AJPH.2015.302630