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Enhance Your Students’ Social-Emotional Learning with These Giving Lessons

giving lessons - 365give
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365give giving lessons are all about enhancing and supporting educators in their classrooms as they integrate social-emotional learning into their curriculum. Social-emotional learning – it’s been in the spotlight over the last few years, and the term may now sound familiar to many educators, students and parents. Due to the increasing importance of youth and children’s mental health and emotional well-being, there has been a call for educators to start teaching their students skills that extend beyond academics, such as empathy, emotional regulation and interpersonal skills.

So, what exactly is social-emotional learning? 

The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), an organization that provides SEL-related tools and resources for educators and conducts research to make SEL an integral part of education from preschool to high school, defines social-emotional learning as the following:

“The process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions, achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions.”

According to CASEL, social-emotional learning encompasses 5 core competencies: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, responsible decision-making, and relationship skills.

Substantial research on SEL has proven its effectiveness; its benefits include everything from improved academic performance or increased life readiness through helping children acquire valuable skills they will need for future life responsibilities, to improved mental health or an increased ability to understand empathy and build healthy relationships.

But although the benefits of SEL are numerous, educators may not know where to begin when it comes to teaching these skills in the classroom. One place to start is with giving; giving is directly linked to social-emotional learning as it helps us develop empathy for others, build social awareness, and establish relationships.

Read on for a list of giving lessons that support social-emotional skill building that teachers can use to enhance their students’ social-emotional learning in the classroom.

Class Compliment Activity For a Classroom Give

Have your students participate in a class meeting, and ask them to point out things they like or admire about their peers. This allows students to not only practice giving compliments, but also practice receiving them (which can be equally as hard, if not more difficult). This giving lesson is a great exercise for building community and creating a supportive environment in which students can establish healthy, positive relationships with their classmates. Teaching students to give and receive compliments can also be valuable for developing other important social-emotional skills like empathy and kindness.

Practice Positive Self-Talk in the Classroom For A Classroom Give

Giving back to yourself is just as important as giving to others. Self-love is a practice that is also essential for social-emotional learning. Encouraging students to rewire their inner voices to focus on the positive, and identify and acknowledge things they appreciate about themselves can allow them to develop important emotional regulation skills. By practicing identifying negative thoughts or emotions, students are also able to build self-awareness. This giving lesson also helps with social-emotional vocabulary development: these are words that we use to express our feelings and respond or react to experiences. Try encouraging your students to come up with a list of words or sentences they can use as positive affirmations.

“Random Act of Kindness” Giving Lessons

Encourage your students to complete one random act of kindness every day, whether it’s big or small. This is a great way for students to build their social-emotional skills by expressing kindness and empathy for others and getting them excited about giving. You can also think about setting up an area where students can write down their daily random act of kindness on a sticky note or small piece of paper and place it in a community jar to keep track of the class’s progress.

Discuss Empathy and Active Listening with Your Students

Although it seems simple, simply taking a moment to discuss what it means to show and feel empathy for others, as well as what active listening is and why it is important for resolving conflicts, can be a great way to enhance your students’ social-emotional learning. Try having a class discussion about these topics and see what ideas come up.

Create A Classroom Gratitude Jar

Gratitude is also a vital part of social-emotional learning – it promotes emotional awareness, empathy, and relationship building. Encourage your students take time to take time to think of things they appreciate about their peers, families, other school staff, themselves, or anything else they can come up with, and have them write them down. Then, try setting up a gratitude jar in your classroom for students to put their ideas. This giving lesson also helps build community among students.

Try One of These Giving Lessons in Your Classroom

If you’re interested in incorporating social-emotional learning into your classroom, try out one of these giving lessons. Skills that kids learn through SEL such as self-regulation, empathy, and healthy relationship building have a long term impact: these are skills that will carry over into adulthood. By changing it up and doing something different in the classroom, SEL-focused lessons might be a conversation starter at home at the dinner table.

Find more classroom giving ideas at 365give!



Sierra Lee
Sierra Lee
Sierra is a Canadian student who is passionate about volunteering, writing and dancing! As a contributor to our weekly articles, Sierra is fulfilling her desire to combine her love for writing with her passion for volunteering. Her volunteering experience is extensive and includes activities at her local library, assisting with social media promotion, sharing cultural experiences with a local organization and participating in a Youth Justice Lab. She will be starting a new volunteer program this fall that has her participating more in her community to further meaningful change at the local level.


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