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Social and Emotional Learning

Positive Action is a recognized leader in teaching social and emotional skills. Its approach is comprehensive and systematic: These skills are taught, practiced, and reinforced all day, every day. It begins with the Positive Action philosophy that “We feel good about ourselves when we do Positive Actions,” which is the social and emotional basis of feeling healthy and happy.

The unit concepts articulate what social and emotional skills are. Students learn how to solve problems, make positive choices and decisions, set goals, and resolve conflict in positive ways. Social and emotional learning encompasses the whole person, so both intellectual and physical positive actions are presented and practiced. Positive Action also includes communities and families where parents teach and reinforce social and emotional skills as positive actions.

Four of the seven units in the curriculum focus on emotional and social learning:

Unit 3 “Managing Yourself Responsibly”

Unit 4 “Treating Others the Way You Like to Be Treated”

Unit 5 “Telling Yourself the Truth”

Unit 6 “Improving Yourself Continually”

Unit 4, “Treating Others the Way You Like to Be Treated,” is particularly applicable to the needs of students for social learning. Social and emotional positive actions such as managing emotions; managing time and energy; treating others with respect, fairness, empathy, and love; accepting your own strengths and weaknesses; and believing in your potential (among many other social and emotional positive actions) are presented and practiced.

The concept of social and emotional learning has been discussed for a long time. It represents a holistic view of education that treats the student as more than an empty vessel waiting to be filled with knowledge.

“An environment conducive to learning needs to be one that recognizes the points at which interpersonal, intrapersonal, and academic domains converge. The development of strong social and emotional skills programs allows these necessary linkages to be made. That, in turn, makes it possible to reach students, to engage them, and to help them feel that they can contribute to the school and the community, to their families, and to their future workplace. More important, such programs also give them the skills to do so.”

—Maurice J. Elias, professor of psychology at Rutgers University, “‘The Missing Piece’: Making the Case for Greater Attention to Social and Emotional Learning,” Education Week, December 3, 1997, p. 36.

Elias identifies emotional and social education as the “missing piece” in education, describing how social and emotional learning influences academic achievement, provides a basis for preventive strategies, and supports citizenship. He further details essential emotional and social skills that include communication; cooperation; emotional self-control and appropriate expression of emotions; empathy and perspective-taking; the ability to plan, set goals, and focus concentration, energies and follow-through; and the ability to resolve conflicts thoughtfully and nonviolently.

Daniel Goleman suggests in his book, "Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More than IQ," that emotional intelligence is a more accurate predictor of success and happiness than IQ or intelligence—and emotional intelligence can be taught.

That research and insight mirror the experience of Positive Action schools. Positive Action students raise test scores, have far lower incidence of drug use and violent actions, decrease disciplinary referrals, come to school more often, and stay in school longer.

Social and emotional learning is critical to prevention, academic achievement, citizenship, and character. Positive Action helps educators introduce this important component into their curriculum with easy-to-teach lessons and proven strategies for the whole school. Educators can teach with confidence knowing they are using a program that is proven to be effective.

In recognition of its effectiveness, Positive Action has been recognized by Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) as a leader in Social and Emotional education. Positive Action has attained the highest rating of “Extensive” for all of the contextual features CASEL evaluates.

Click here to read CASEL’s review of Positive Action.

Click here to review the Emotional Education article on Social and Emotional learning.

Click here to review the Prevention Science article on Social and Emotional learning.

Click here for an overview on special education.