5 Seamless Ways to Add Social-Emotional Learning to the Classroom

Read Time:  min |  Class Lessons, Teachers

The value of social-emotional learning is undisputed amongst both teachers and counselors. We know that kids need to learn SEL skills to succeed in, and out, of the classroom. 

Unfortunately, time is often the biggest barrier when it comes to adding these important lessons to a typical school day. 

But with these tips, you can seamlessly integrate social-emotional learning into the classroom by adding them to what you’re already doing daily (or by setting aside just a few moments in the morning at end-of-day)

1. Morning Madness Check-ins 

Teaching self-reflection at the beginning of the day can help students unwind from the morning rush, and learn how to harness the anxiety of busy mornings.  It’s also a quick and painless way to bring social-emotional learning to your daily routine.

A morning check-in can include a greeter, a moment of gratitude, or other personal connections between students. 

Students should take a moment to share what they did the night before, or what they are looking forward to for the rest of the day. It’s a few minutes out of every morning to settle in, set intentions, and become present. 

2. Gratitude Journaling

Daily gratitude journals can also be utilized at the start of the day to allow for a moment of reflection. Short prompts that include SEL-specific skills can help develop emotional tools that students will use throughout the day, and at home. 

Grab a free 5-minute focus gratitude journal that includes prompts like: Today will be great because…” by joining my newsletter.

Students will foster a positive attitude at the start of the day and then share their happy-vibes with the rest of the class (if they’d like to). 

3. Group Work For Social-Emotional Learning in the Classroom

Think of how many times throughout the week you use group or teamwork in the classroom. These are excellent opportunities to incorporate SEL into the work your students are already doing!

Teamwork is something that students should master to be successful in their careers, and personal lives. So using these moments to teach kids how to problem-solve, compromise and become leaders is an easy way to add SEL to your syllabus.

Arranging students in teams can also help foster a sense of belonging and identity. Team emblems and mottos can spark creativity and give ownership over an entire group of students. These groups can be used for short assignments or long term. 

In group settings, students will meet new friends, and learn how to help one another. 

If you decide to arrange students into teams, change them up regularly so new relationships and collaboration can be fostered. 

4. Reward Social Skills and Social-Emotional Learning Practice

Look for opportunities to recognize students who are doing well, either in private or publicly if the situation calls for it. 

Let’s face it, you can usually tell when a student is upset about something. Reaching out to them to help overcome obstacles, or encouraging them when they do so on their own, will aid in their ability to recognize their own social skills, and use them more often. 

In other words, telling students that they are managing their emotions well will reinforce the behavior. 

5. End-of-Day Check-Out and Warm Goodbyes 

At the end of a long day, it can be helpful for students to take a moment together to reflect on the day and reinforce social-emotional learning. Ask each student to proclaim a win for the day and/or compliment another student. 

This is also a good time of day to review goals for the rest of the week or the following day. Encouraging introspection, and then proclaiming goals out loud encourages mindfulness and accountability. 

As your students head home, select a student who demonstrated the use of SEL skills well, let them know what they did well, and give them the honor of bidding farewell to each student as they leave the classroom. 

These are just a few simple ways to add SEL skill learning to what you already do every day. And there are many more opportunities to add social skill-learning in everyday tasks, assignments, and moments, and most will only take a few moments. 

But if you’re really strapped for time, check out my Social-Emotional Learning bundles. These SEL brochures were made specifically for the busy counselors and teachers of the world. They come in bundles for K-2, 3rd-8th, teens/high school, and the huge K-12 bundle for those lucky enough to serve all grades.

Social Emotional Learning Activities for the classroom


Looking for more? Check out this post about adding Social Emotional Learning into Academic Instruction.

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