What Is Social-Emotional Learning?

Children practicing social-emotional learning in the classroom by playing creatively.

Social-emotional learning (SEL) is defined as, “the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.”[1]

One of the challenges in today’s schools, whether public, private, Christian, or home/virtual-based learning environments, is tackling the looming question of how we guide children’s behavior in the hopes of teaching them accountability and responsibility.

In order to keep a classroom of students focused on learning, teachers’ attention can tend to divert to negative behaviors exhibited by a few students, as these impact the entire classroom atmosphere. Negative behaviors are destructive and distract both the teacher and the students.

While for many this approach often feels necessary, it is discouraging, not just for students but also for their parents. Children who are reprimanded for disrupting a class tend to believe that they are “problem” children, and parents tend to feel they have a “bad” child. The solution to this cycle is to implement  social-emotional learning in the classroom. 

SEL involves the process of learning emotional and social competences in a classroom-based environment.

These social-emotional skills can be easily fostered in the classroom using an effective SEL system, right alongside the teaching of math, science, and reading.

How Does Social-Emotional Learning Work?

Young children develop social-emotional learning skills by playing together outdoor.

Social-emotional learning in the classroom can take place at any age. However, SEL is more effective when it begins when children are in elementary school and follows them throughout their education. Developing social-emotional skills not only eases the efficiency and supportive nature of a learning environment, but these skills are vital for children to be successful in life, school, work, and beyond.

The objective of SEL is to equip children with the abilities and tools to manage their own emotions. When able to understand and keep their emotions in check, children can more easily control their behavior and navigate interpersonal relationships. SEL grants children the foundation necessary to embrace having care, concern, and compassion for those around them. 

On top of this, an effective SEL character-building program helps children cultivate problem-solving skills, teaches responsibility, gives a decision-making framework, and fosters healthier relationships with fellow students, siblings, teachers, and parents.

As students begin to adopt stronger social-emotional skills, they are able to more easily recognize their feelings and in what ways those feelings are affecting them. This emotional awareness leads directly to an ability to spot and handle impulsive tendencies and behaviors in a productive manner.

SEL helps students reach a place where they can pause for a moment, take a few deep breaths, and think about how their actions would affect a situation before they act. With the help of SEL, a talkative student learns how to respect others and not speak out of turn, a student who does not clean up after him or herself learns the power of organization, and a student who struggles to see the world outside of him or herself is introduced to the value in having empathy for others.

At the heart of the social-emotional skillset learned through SEL is teaching the value of respect to children. Children learn how to look at things from another student’s perspective and consider that student’s emotions. This leads the way to developing the social-emotional skills of sympathy and compassion.

When students respect others, they communicate their wants and needs in a productive manner, while, at the same time, compromising with others to solve conflicts amicably. As a result, children get along with others much more easily and are more likely to ask for help when they need it.

When children are encouraged with social-emotional learning in the classroom, responsible actions, good decisions, and strong relationships are created not just for the day but for the rest of their lives. Social-emotional learning skills successfully fostered at school often spill over to the  home environment and eventually form a strong character foundation conducive to success in future careers and experiences.

How Does HONORABLE CHARACTERTM Use Social Emotional Learning in the Classroom?

The HONORABLE CHARACTERTM Classroom Management System provides a simple and achievable structure for public, private, and Christian schools to inject social-emotional learning in the classroom with a framework of 14 core traits that flow in conjunction with any curriculum. HONORABLE CHARACTERTM, created by teachers, aligns perfectly with the goals of SEL and  brings positive reinforcement into the classroom to greatly curtail disruptive behaviors. By causing a paradigm shift in the way the teacher approaches students, the students in turn develop communicative strengths and behavior-changing self-awareness.

With a little time, commitment to the program, and consistency in following the methods, teachers start to see amazing results in their students. Educators using the HONORABLE CHARACTERTM social-emotional learning system acknowledge that the program, through recognizing and encouraging each child’s honorable choices, builds confidence and promotes social-emotional maturity, while providing a proven history of effective and successful results.

With each positive recognition, relationships between students, students and teachers, parents and teachers, and children and parents foster trust, respect, friendship, and compassion. These relationships continue to develop further and are made stronger each year the program is used.

HONORABLE CHARACTERTM lays out clearly defined characteristics for children to demonstrate. For teachers, it provides practical structure to guide children’s behavior while incorporating 14 principles and traits into the normal everyday flow of the classroom, regardless of the lesson plans or curriculum. The program, when used effectively, also holds teachers accountable to use positive language and affirmation to guide student behavior.

HONORABLE CHARACTERTM offers a complementary Home System, which not only highlights the same 14 character traits, but is also designed to help teach children money management principles. Both the school and home programs empower teachers and parents to pay more attention to what children are doing right. This simple shift in perspective reinforces children’s right choices, thus fostering their desire to make more right choices. This, in turn, reduces the frequency and need to correct what they are doing wrong. This simple but effective tool can completely change the environment of both a classroom and a home as they become places of calm and peace, where children feel encouraged and become more respectful and responsible.

Children taught in schools and homes using HONORABLE CHARACTERTM principles and traits tend to perform better academically, behave better, have improved attitudes, and are less likely to act out in disruptive ways and display negative behaviors. They are more confident, make friends easier, and are less likely to feel left out, ‘picked on’ or alone. Ultimately, children exposed to a strong SEL learning environment such as what the HONORABLE CHARACTERTM System fosters, develop the skills to be successful and live richer lives, not just in an academic setting, but for the rest of their lives.

The 14 Traits of Honorable Character’s Social-Emotional Learning Program

The 14 traits and principles of Honorable Character’s social-emotional learning program apply to a wide range of learning environments, including the classroom, student counseling, school activities, and the home.

1. Respect

Respect lays the groundwork from which all positive interpersonal traits and abilities branch. In order to best position themselves for a life full of supported and rewarding relationships, children must learn how to respect themselves and those around them.

2. Obedience

Children realize how the importance of obeying and following rules and obligations outlined for them leads to a classroom filled with positive reinforcement and calm.

3. Diligence

While innate ability is a typical marker of success in classrooms, diligence and strong motivation are equally as significant. Through HONORABLE CHARACTERTM, children learn the importance and power behind diligence.

4. Wisdom

Children are given the tools to value wisdom, both in themselves and the people who surround them. When given the tactics to analyze their own experiences, they begin to understand for themselves the wisdom of what is right and true.

5. Kindness

HONORABLE CHARACTERTM illustrates for its participants how kindness fuels a world we all want to live in. Children are coached on how to be kind toward one another, how to disagree respectfully with one another, how to forgive others, and how to extend kindness even to those they do not know.

6. Self-Control

HONORABLE CHARACTERTM guides students to a mastery of self-control and deep grasp of self-awareness. This enables students to be empathetic listeners and articulate speakers, building a mutually respectful environment and a muscle that will take them far beyond the walls of a classroom.

7. Orderliness

Respect for one’s space is a pillar of a successful learning environment. HONORABLE CHARACTERTM  helps students to understand the gravity and necessity behind orderliness.

8. Service

Through HONORABLE CHARACTERTM, children experience the blessing that comes from carrying out acts of service for one another.  Children develop the desire to help others in a caring and supportive manner.

9. Attentiveness

Through HONORABLE CHARACTERTM, children realize the importance of and hone their capability to focus on and discern what is important in and out of the classroom.

10. Cooperation

Students are encouraged to look beyond their individual interests, and instead see the interests of others. Students practice cooperation with each other, regardless of the task, and see how cooperation leads to success.

11. Courage

Children are coached to meet any challenge with the belief that they can and will overcome it. They discover how to acknowledge and address their fears and gain the courage to overcome them.

12. Honesty

Participants in HONORABLE CHARACTERTM grapple with the importance of honesty in all life contexts and how being honest with others allows one to be true to oneself.

13. Forgiveness

Along with valuing honesty, children are encouraged to choose forgiveness rather than blame. Learning to practice forgiveness at an early age sets students up for a bitterness-free life.

14. Responsibility

Last and most certainly not least, HONORABLE CHARACTERTM program integrates the above traits to impart upon children a strong sense of personal and collective responsibility to spur them to embrace learning to be the best versions of themselves and fulfill the responsibilities they hold.

Classroom Management System offers a tool that is easy for teachers to implement and that offers encouragement to students. Although most children may not excel in every trait, children who take ownership of any combination of HONORABLE CHARACTERTM traits feel more motivated and empowered to learn, grow, and behave well, contributing to a nurturing SEL learning environment where children’s emotional and social skills thrive.

To learn more about social-emotional skills and social-emotional learning from HONORABLE CHARACTERTM, please feel free to explore our website further or contact us at 833-950-1256

  1. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0272431617725198