Social Emotional Learning

I attended a talk today at my school, which gave an update on one of the new programmes they were plannig to roll out to the school.

The presentation was very informative, with quite a few presentation slides.

One of the takeaways I took was that there's a lot of pressure on kids these days to be high achievers. This can affect their emotional health while in school and in their future. There was quote about intellectual development not affecting the life satisfaction of the children when they became adults. I think this leads to one of the questions we need to ask ourselves, which is what we actually want for our children.

A lot of the time, parents say they just want their children to be "happy" in the future. But people have different ideas on how to achieve happiness, and parents can often clash with children's ideas on what this is too. There's an old saying that "mum knows best", which indicates that the mother or parent usually knows what a child should be doing based on their far greater number of years of life experience.

We have to ask ourselves whether life satisfaction is a higher goal that we should be aiming for too. Sometimes we may choose to sacrifice this. We or our children could be more ascetic, and deny ourselves pleasures such that we may achieve other goals. Sometimes we may choose to sacrifice our own life satisfaction in order to contribute or higher causes perhaps, if the two are not aligned.

What I'm trying to work out is what the balance is between social emotional learning and academic learning. But as the presentation said, it is not an either or choice. In terms of time allocated for such learning, a choice has to be made though.

We all want the best for our children. All children are not the same though, and no matter what our efforts, they will not all excel.

I believe that as parents, we have to provide as many opportunities as we can however, even though the child may not appreciate those opportunities until later.

I remember a time when my parents asked me whether I wanted to go to Saturday Chinese School. As a shy child however, I declined the opportunity. Looking back, I think I let my shyness overcome the benefits of such an opportunity. This is where the nudge of a parent helps.

While a school can provide a more explicit programme of social emotional learning, such as providing counselors etc., I wonder how did schools and their children ever survive without such a programme? Did children of yesteryear suffer as a result? Of course not.

Learning is a lifelong journey, and we can learn as an adult, despite our formative years as children. And even though it wasn't explicit, humans are naturally social and emotional creatures, influenced by our peer groups and the social structures we are a part of.

We increase our social learning by the kinds of social experiences we have, which means the number of social encounters we have. I think the "Scouts" is one good example of how we can encourage children to build the kind of character we can be proud of in society, and where children can be socialised.

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