By Thomas James, Community Outreach and Communications Coordinator for the Out-of-School Time Programs division of DC Public Schools. This blog post is adapted from a longer article on SEL that you can find here.
As many of us in the afterschool field are well aware, youth that participate in high-quality afterschool programs develop a wide array of critical skills that are imperative to become a productive citizen. Skills like self-control, critical thinking, and collaboration—sometimes referred to as social and emotional learning (SEL)—are gaining prominence in the education policy world. This type of learning significantly impacts the life skills and outcomes of youth.
Yet, when trying to address and incorporate these skills into afterschool programming, it can often seem daunting. In this post I will try to shed light on a variety of tactics and strategies that are proven to enhance the development of social and emotional skills in youth.
In order to help youth develop these skills, afterschool professionals can use a wide range of strategies to encourage social and emotional development, including:
Self-reflection and self-assessment
Unfortunately, it can be challenging for educators to encourage the development of these skills. Furthermore, traditional education environments are often ill-suited to helping youth develop these skills, which makes their inclusion in afterschool programs even more important. It is important to make sure that youth development professionals have the proper supports and training when focusing on SEL.
Fortunately, the field has developed a wide array of tactics to help program staff properly incorporate SEL in their programming:
We all know that SEL and afterschool programs have a deep impact on children’s futures. In the short term, these skills and behaviors may help students improve their academic performance and behavior in school. Long-term, the skills learned from SEL and afterschool will help these students become more employable, productive, successful citizens. It is critical that we continue investing in afterschool programs and the personnel supporting them.
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