For many in our community, the winter holidays are about the exchange of gifts, broadly speaking – the gift of family, friends, great food, traditions, and of course things. One of the most important gifts, I feel, are those that stem from within each of us: our social-emotional strengths.
Wheeler’s N-8 faculty believe that SEL work contributes to academic, social, and individual success. Put in more human terms, we know a happy, well-adjusted student is more likely to experience academic success. Knowing these benefits and wanting a cohesive N-8 SEL program, the faculty in collaboration with the Wheeler Health Center has adopted the nationally-known, evidence-based, SEL approach called.
SEL benefits to academic success
Some in education, and even in various educational think tanks, classify SEL as a “soft” set of skills contrasted with “hard” skills like reading, writing, and math. This false binary leads some, especially critics of SEL, to separate SEL and academics. Some make a zero-sum argument saying that time spent on SEL work takes away from time devoted to reading instruction. But consider this:
- a student who “freezes” before tests and presentations but who learns about identification and regulation of emotions. Through practice, he unfreezes himself and experiences success in test-taking and public speaking.
- Another example is a girl who, before coming to Wheeler, experienced stomach aches when solving word problems in math. It got to the point she believed she was bad at math. Because her Wheeler second-grade teacher employed a sophisticated blend of math and SEL instruction, the girl gained confidence decoding word problems; her confidence as a young mathematician has grown, something we want for all students, especially girls.
SEL at Wheeler
SEL’s benefits go well beyond success in academics; some researchers have established a correlation between SEL and positive life outcomes, reduced social cruelty, and greater resiliency, especially for children who have experienced trauma. The Wheeler Lower School community (Grades Nursery – 5) has recently crafted the following Guiding Principle: As a community, students learn to adapt to and work with the full range of emotion, develop greater self-awareness, and through reflection, discover and embrace their own evolving identities. Students also learn to cultivate healthy relationships through compassion, inclusion and valuing multiple perspectives.
In our Middle School community, both theapproach and this same Guiding Principle are adapted to fit young adolescents. Regardless of their age, all of our students experience greater and fuller success with this robust SEL programming. Wheeler’s N-8 approach is truly a gift to all your children.
Head of Strategic Innovation and N-8 Divisions
Growing Minds is the periodic blog about Grades Nursery – 8 at Wheeler