It’s easy to know how well a child is doing in school. Just look at the grades on their report card, right? Not so fast. Going beyond grades to develop a child’s social and emotional skills is just as important.
Commonly referred to as SEL, social emotional learning isn’t just another trend in education. Strong evidence is emerging that social and emotional skills—like how to persist through failure, build a growth mindset, show empathy for others, collaborate, and creatively solve problems—will lead to greater academic achievement and personal and professional success later in life.
It’s important, then, that parents and educators understand social emotional learning and how they can teach the concepts to their children and students.
Now, wait just a minute…
I know what you might be thinking: Last time I checked, Bak USA was a tech company. Why is a tech company concerning itself with students and their social and emotional skills? Just build the computers already!
I hear you.
But if you know anything about Bak USA, you know that we didn’t get into this business just to make a buck. We did it because we’ve got a genuine interest in quality education and because we care about students, their well-being, and their success. We want to help them—and their teachers—overcome challenges and create opportunities in any setting.
That’s why we built our Atlas. It’s a versatile 2-in-1 laptop that enables students to interact with course material in a variety of ways. In short, it’s not about the technology—it’s about how we can enable that student to take ownership of his or her education and learn in a way that’s best for them.
When it comes to helping students develop their social and emotional skills, we think edtech tools hold enormous promise. Edtech tools can help students develop crucial social and emotional skills. Here are a couple examples:
Edtech tools enable self-directed, personalized learning
Students are more engaged and have a deeper understanding of the material when they are learning what they want to learn, at their own pace, and in their own way.
- The social emotional learning benefit:
Young, self-directed learners are more likely to develop a growth mindset—that is, a mindset that believes talent can be developed through hard work, good strategies, and input from others.
- Edtech tools enable relationships & collaboration
Developing healthy social relationships and collaborating with peers are two skills that critical to success in school and beyond. Trouble is, the “sit-and-get” model of traditional education doesn’t help students learn these skills. Edtech tools create opportunities for both.
- The social emotional learning benefit:
Students learn that relationships are key to success. Edtech tools can teach them how to develop and maintain those relationships with their peers. They also develop important communication and collaboration skills by learning how to listen to and respond to other viewpoints.
Go with what works.
One way to help students develop their social and emotional skills is to let them play video games. Yes, you read that correctly (and you can check out this study for more info).
Don’t be afraid to go with what works! Most kids love video games—and the right ones can be beneficial.
These games allow players to create a character and guide it on multiple paths through an immersive narrative arc. One great example is iCivics, a web-based learning platform founded in 2009 by former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. We first told you about it back in May.
Designed to teach civics and inspire students to become active participants in American democracy, iCivics offers several role-playing games, including one that allows students to be “president for a day” and argue a case before the Supreme Court.
When it comes to social and emotional skills, role-playing games teach students how to compose complex arguments, solve problems creatively, and employ self-directed learning.
In strategy games, multiple players come together around a common goal and must make decisions together.
A well-known strategy game is Civilization V in which players try to become the “ruler of the world” by establishing a civilization and leading it from prehistoric times into the space age. Players must make strategic decisions about diplomacy, expansion, economic development, technology, government, and military conquest. Whew!
Games like Civilization V can help students understand intricate relationships and how successfully and creatively working with others advances their own best interests.
Finally, there are sandbox games, so named because they offer open-ended exploration—just like a sandbox. The most well-known example is Minecraft, a game that lets players create a 3D world alone or in a multiplayer, collaborative environment.
How do games like Minecraft teach social and emotional skills? Success in the game hinges on a player’s resourcefulness and ability to take initiative to secure essential elements. Sandbox games foster creativity, collaboration, and creative problem-solving skills.
Here are a few more resources.
If you’re a parent or educator who’s interested in learning more about how you can help young learners develop their social and emotional skills, we’ve got your back.
- For Educators: The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, or CASEL, helps school districts promote social and emotional learning in students from pre-school to high school. They’ve put together two guides that identify and rate well-designed, evidence-based SEL programs and share guidelines that school districts can use to implement them. Get more information and download the guides here.
- For Parents: Edutopia, a program dedicated to sharing best practices for K-12 education, put together an incredible list of blogs, articles, and videos about how you can help foster social and emotional skills in your young learner. Check it out here.
The power of a caring adult.
“Building positive relationships with teachers will foster a student’s social and emotional growth,” Dr. Sackman-Ebuwa wrote, citing this report from the National Network of State Teachers of the Year.
Great teachers know the importance of creating and maintaining relationships with students and the positive affect these relationships have on school climate. While test scores show us something, they can never replace the power of a caring adult.”
We’re with you.
There’s more to education than passing tests. By helping your student or child develop their social emotional skills, you’re helping them develop important skills they’ll use for life.
It’s tough to navigate complex fields like social and emotional learning. We get it. If you’re a parent or educator looking to make a difference with technology, we’re with you. Tell us what you hope to achieve and we’ll help you out. And if you’ve found something that works well, let us know and we’ll be happy to share it.