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Importance of social emotional learning during the COVID-19 pandemic

By Garima Srivastava

“Humans are social beings, and it is imperative for them to possess social and emotional skills prior to acquiring other skills, to survive and thrive in their social settings.”



We have been talking about the importance of social-emotional learning (SEL) for quite some time now. Educators across the world have been trying to bring in this aspect of learning in their daily routine by organizing their lesson plans and making considerable space for SEL in their practice. Let us try to unravel what SEL is and why this COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic has made us realize its importance even more. Humans are social beings, and it is imperative for them to possess social and emotional skills prior to acquiring other skills, to survive and thrive in their social settings. Social and emotional skills go hand-in-hand. Emotional skills talk about identifying, expressing and managing the emotions while social skills are about making connections, relating to others, being able to negotiate and build relationships with peers, adults and colleagues.

“During this challenging time, teachers have shown resilience since they rapidly adapted to the new ways of the virtual world and immediately shifted their classrooms from physical to online.”


COVID-19 pandemic This pandemic has not been kind on the mental and physical health of our parent community, children and teachers. The isolated lifestyle has changed the definition of socialization and has led children and adults to experience a variety of feelings. A lesson learned is that we need to have school-wide strategic planning of systematically addressing these issues. Children need to be taught how to recognize, manage and balance their emotional upheaval. The parent and teacher community need to work collaboratively and compassionately with each other during this challenging time for the betterment of themselves and their children. All these issues can be addressed by making SEL the basis of curriculum and pedagogy explicitly.

Making social-emotional learning a base Various frameworks have been talking about the importance of making SEL serve as the basis of curriculum planning, conceptualizing and execution. The national curriculums frameworks of various countries have been researching and advocating the importance of SEL, but there is still work that needs to be done on the guidelines for teachers to be able to bring it into practice. During this challenging time, teachers have shown resilience since they rapidly adapted to the new ways of the virtual world and immediately shifted their classrooms from physical to online. Having said that, this transition did take a toll on teachers and children state of wellbeing. It is essential for schools and leadership to make SEL a separate subject to be taught to children and a separate rigorous training module to be imparted to teachers.


“It is essential for schools and leadership to make SEL a separate subject to be taught to children and a separate rigorous training module to be imparted to teachers.”


Research-based Indicators and addressals:

  • Since children are at home or have just resumed the schools physically, it is very important for teachers to make a safe trusting relationship with each child to help them understand, adapt and thrive in this new normal.

  • Understand and recognizing the behaviours of children because behaviour is a form of communication.

  • Empathizing and listening to children and parents, both are looking to be heard first before they hear you out.

  • Looking out for signs-child being aggressive, left-out, quiet, fearful, not communicating needs. These are few signs that the child needs to be assured that you are there to help and trust.

  • School wide PD sessions addressing feeling, group dynamics, social skills, aggression, building relationship with children and families, bullying.


Garima is an Early Years Coordinator at Pathways School Noida, India. She has 10 years of hands-on experience in the Early Childhood Care and Education. Garima was a scholarship student during her MA in ECCE from Ambedkar University Delhi. Her dissertation research was on Shared Reading using different modalities in Early Years. Garima is a mother of a nine-year-old child. She has worked with various international schools and has extensive experience in Enabling Early Years Environment, designing-learning spaces, Continuous Provision, Conducting mother-toddler program, Importance of Play in Early Years, Social-Emotional Learning, Transition in Early Years and Parental Involvement in Early Years Setting.

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