Teaching students social-emotional skills


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The Sioux Falls School District is implementing a heavier focus on social-emotional learning for students.

School officials say SEL can bring success for students both in, and out of the classroom.

Helping students succeed academically and setting goals for the future is only part of the job as a school counselor. Jeff Heavlin, school counselor at Oscar Howe Elementary says social-emotional learning also plays a crucial role.

“SEL, Social-emotional learning, in a nutshell just basically means how we as human beings learn about ourselves, regulation of our emotions and our choices, and also how we learn to appropriately interact with other people,” Heavlin said.

SEL teaches students skills to cope with everyday challenges, including self-discipline, impulse control and emotion management. Heavlin says it also benefits mental health in students– teaching them how to work through problems both in and outside the classroom.

“Taking time to work with students to recognize how they respond to a situation, what’s their reaction, how do they feel, and when I feel this way what can I do to make myself feel better?” Sioux Falls School District Assistant Superintendent Dr. Teresa Boysen said.

Boysen says SEL is being implemented across all grade levels– providing students with lessons they can use throughout their entire life.

One of those lessons is something many adults still struggle with — handling stress.

“Stress can look very different to different people and we just try to meet children where they’re at and help them the best we can,” Heavlin said.

Whether it’s reaching out for help or working through a challenge on their own, Heavlin says students have been receptive.

“It’s ok to recognize that maybe I am feeling a certain way and I might need some help from somebody that I trust, or need to utilize techniques to calm myself,” Heavlin said.

If you’re interested in incorporating social-emotional learning at home with your child too, click here.

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