In 2010, social and emotional aspects of learning (SEAL) were officially made part of the UK education curriculum. As defined by the Department for Education, SEAL deals specifically with “promoting the social and emotional skills that underpin effective learning, positive behaviour, regular attendance...emotional health and wellbeing.” Making SEAL an official part of the national curriculum finally put the emphasis needed on an area of child development that scientific research has been calling us to attend to for decades. It was an undeniable positive step forward, yet the question remains: how can schools integrate SEAL to help their students succeed? How can we ensure that SEAL exists not only throughout our curricula, but at the top of the agenda? In an environment where the goal-posts are continually changing, and pressure on teachers to deliver results is mounting, how can we teach SEAL effectively?
At YouHue, we know that helping to develop SEAL and emotional literacy is key to a student’s academic success and their whole-life well-being. Research from 2011 showed that having processes in place for the supporting students’ social and emotional development was the common element among schools that reported an increase in academic success. Not only that, but these schools also saw an improved quality of relationships between teachers and students as well as a decrease in problem behaviour (Durlak, Weissberg,Dymnicki, Taylor & Schellinger).
With this kind of evidence, it is clear that supporting SEAL is not simply a ‘nice to have’ but essential to helping students and schools reach their full potential.
The problem, however, is one of time. There are only so many hours in the day, and it can be challenging for teachers to find the time to dedicate to boosting emotional literacy amongst students, especially at this time of year with exam season upon us. Yet that is more reason than ever for us to make sure we’re empowering teachers to give students all the support they need during such a challenging time of year.
So how can this be done?
YouHue enables teachers to identify pupil emotional wellbeing and quickly highlight where intervention may be needed. For young people, the app helps to understand feelings, communicate appropriately, and choose actions that help them achieve their personal goals.
Emotions in the classroom are complicated. YouHue helps simplify and teach the basic principles of SEAL through a “hide the vegetables in the meal” approach backed by psychological science and ground-breaking methods of therapeutic technology design. Students are guided to answer the question, “How are you feeling?” With the help of the app, students develop good habits inherent in the answering of this question. A set of emotional response options is given to help students identify and express emotions they are just beginning to understand. Students are also guided subtly to practice identifying causes, effects, events, and behaviors related to different emotions. The habits they develop from the simple practice of YouHue include healthy and timely self-reflection, confident communication, empathy, and problem-solving.
Fundamentally, what we at YouHue want is to ensure that children and young people are being equipped with the tools they need to tackle any challenges that lie ahead; whether that is exam stress, problems and home or friend troubles. Having the emotional and mental resources to understand and process who they are feeling, as well as know what they can proactively do to address those emotions, makes them more prepared to handle whatever life may throw at them in the future. In just a few moments a day, the app helps to provide the scaffold of emotional intelligence and emotional regulation, so these skills can then be applied in the real world. It also gives educators, parents, and guardians the help they need to support the mental health of their students.
We want to empower schools to be able to integrate effective social and emotional learning into the everyday of school life, helping to break down stigma and barriers around mental health and emotional well-being. By using YouHue for a short period of time each day, schools can help give student’s the confidence and space to connect with their emotions, as well as what those emotions are telling them. As one YouHue teacher tells us, “My student talks to YouHue as a friend, then comes back to the real world and that helps him get through.” YouHue is a tool to help children connect with their emotions, and express them in a healthy way, in a safe space where they feel supported.
If you’re looking to make a change to your classroom, make student wellness a priority and see what an impact it can have on your students. Changing the classroom culture for the better will not only improve student’s performance, but their futures. After all, emotional literacy isn’t just for the classroom - it’s a lesson students will carry with them for the rest of their lives.
If you like this blog post, why not download our Student Stress Signposts resource pack? Covering both Primary and Secondary schools, our free resource looks at what stress is, whether stress is always a bad thing, and where to direct stress.