The Importance of Social-Emotional Learning

Imagine a child with whom you have worked in the past who had significant difficulty regulating his or her emotions. Perhaps this child came into school or daycare after getting into an argument with a sibling, and he or she was highly aggressive with adults or other kids. Maybe the child is a camper who can’t stop crying because he or she is homesick. This may even be a child who is so excited about getting pool time that he or she cannot sit still to listen to directions about how to stay safe. I don’t know about you, but I have countless students and campers whom these challenges affect.

Last month, I attended a phenomenal training at Yale’s Center for Emotional Intelligence, which provided practical ways to teach students about emotion expression and regulation. As a middle school teacher, I had so many “aha!” moments and couldn’t help but think, “Wow… If only I’d known how to do this stuff last year! This would have helped little Joey so much!” To me, the most powerful piece of the training was the concept of “name it to tame it.” As we help kids identify and label their emotions, they will often feel more comfortable with how they are feeling and be more prepared to self-regulate.

As children build a deeper understanding for the emotions they feel, as well as their typical causes and consequences, they heighten their sense of empathy for the people around them. This ultimately empowers them to value diversity and inclusion. We strengthen our own communities through empathy. We develop effective leaders for strong future communities when we focus on social-emotional learning now.

–Written by Elise Hopkins, KIT Blog Writer

Kids Included Together (KIT) is a non-profit located in San Diego, CA and Washington, DC. We help make the world a more inclusive place by providing live and online training to people who work with kids. We teach strategies, accommodations and best practices to include kids with and without disabilities in before & after school programs. Inclusive environments create stronger communities. Learn more about our work at

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