Before I dive into the background of this post, I want to share with you...

5 Reasons Why All Children Can Benefit From  Social Stories and Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Activities

1.  Improved Emotional Regulation:

Social stories and SEL activities teach children how to identify and manage their emotions, which in turn helps then handle stress, anxiety and frustration more effectively...that is not to say these emotional feeling will disappear, but when they come, children will understand what to do to handle these "MUDDY FEELINGS."

2.  Enhance Social Skills:

These stories and activities support students to understand and recognize social cues, develop empathy, and learn appropriate behaviors for interacting with others.  This is so important for building positive relationships and effective communication skills.  Teaching children to "USE THEIR WORDS" and react in a more positive way to negative situations is key to deal effectively with various emotions that come into play.

3.  Increase Self-Awareness:

SEL activities encourage children to reflect on their own thoughts and feelings, which is so important in today's society.  These reflections foster greater self-awareness, which is the foundation for personal growth and making informed decisions in all areas of life. 

4.  Better Academic Performance:

My experience and research has demonstrated that students who participate in SEL activities, perform better academically because they are able to focus their energy on the task at hand and understand their feelings.  They develop a growth mindset, which enables them to realize that is okay if they need more time or that they are not there...YET!  These improved social and emotional skills teach resilience, to keep trying, support motivation, which leads to better academic learning outcomes.

5.  Long Term Mental Health Benefits:

Early exposure to social and emotional learning builds a strong foundation for mental health. Children who learn these skills are better equipped to cope with challenges and understand what they can do to help themselves cope with certain challenges.  If learned at a young age, these skills will stay with them throughout their lives.

The Background or Skills Needed Were Always There, But Became More Prevalent NOW! 

I remember years ago when my son and I would cuddle in a rocking chair and read books...lots of books.  Some of his most favorite books that we read over and over again were part of a series called Sweet Pickles by Richard Hefter.  I have to admit. I loved reading them over and over again.  

The ones we loved the most were Accusing Alligator, Very Worried Walrus, Me Too Iguana, Who Can Trust You Kangaroo, Moody Moose Buttons, Turtle Throws a Tantrum, Jackal Wants Everything and Yakety Yak Yak Yak.  You can make some great inferences and predictions  by these titles.  

This was in 1977-78 and as a parent I wanted to be assured that my kids understood social emotional interactions and were prepared for friendships and the ups and downs that can happen with family and friends.

Little did I know that 12 Years later, I would soon be using these cute characters to decorate my reading station and reading many of this series to teach positive character traits and social skills to my first graders!

Move forward to 2020...Covid came and Covid went.  Covid came and Covid went.  

Kids worked remotely, children worked at school and some experienced a hybrid schedule and many schools were shut down completely for a good amount of time.  

I was happy I was retired and pretty much living at my daughter's house to help her and her husband maneuver being a principal and teaching from home with a toddler.  

I thought how will teachers and parents ever be able to do this, but because teachers will be teachers and parents will be parents, they finished with flying colors and I was so proud of all the teachers and parents I knew! 

It was confusing to say the least and as a former teacher and current grandparent, I tutored on Zoom with s
neighborhood kids and my grandkids!  I really DO NOT want to relive the severe COVID days, but they had a huge impact on all of us.

Let's think about this..there was something missing during this time! What was it? Yes! Social interaction... with peers, teacher role models even parents as many of them were also working from home. 

So now our children or students are back to school full time and what I hear most from teachers and parents or even teachers who are parents is: 
My children/students missed at least a year of school, they are behind in not just academics, but also with character education development including social emotional skills. (I am sure you are hearing these exact statments on the news as we speak.

So now teachers are faced with another job which is differentiating academic skills for various levels within each grade and teaching and supporting social emotional learning. This is not new to teachers but the levels within each classroom in these areas are more spread out and teachers need resources that can be differentiated for all learners! 

Now, you are probably wondering where I am going with this...well...many children (not all) can have difficulty with these social/emotional skills in normal situations. 

So my point is every child can use support with understanding positive character traits as well as social and emotional skills. I AM SAYING THAT ACADEMICS IS IMPORTANT, BUT SOCIAL EMOTIONAL LEARNING IS JUST AS IMPORTANT IF NOT MORE!

These skills are NOT just for students who are identified as having issues in this area of learning.

Children are tethered to their electronic devices and are connected to their friends in a different way than when we were young or our own children were younger.  

I have watched kids posing for Instagram, dancing on TikTok and constantly communicating electronically with friends and family.  I am not saying this needs to totally stop, but maybe we need pull back on the reins a bit.

Interpretation?  We need to spent some time at home and at school teaching and focussing on social skills....what's appropriate and what's not and there in itself is a problem.  YES that has changed too! 

I am the first to admit that I spend more time than I need to on social media.  It has been a trend and we have all jumped on the bandwagon and when we promise to jump off the wagon...we jump right back on.

Does this sound familiar?  YES?  Then you need what I am about to share with you!  

Social Stories are a Great Way to Teach Young Children Positive Behaviors and to Recognize Negative Behaviors

Using Social Stories or activities gives children/students concrete examples of positive choices they can make when faced with everyday situations in school and at home.  

These teachings are NOT just for school use.  They can help every parent and teacher who have faced challenges with types of behaviors at home and at school.

A social story can be an effective way to teach students and children appropriate behaviors for different social situations.

Explicit social skill and character trait instruction by using social stories can give teachers a way to demonstrate expectations in a story format.  Once the social piece is in place, the students are more ready to learn academic skills.

I started creating Social Stories long before Covid.  Stories for my students to learn and understand expected behaviors as well as to suggest strategies to support behaviors that need to be regulated or reactions to triggers that are not as big a deal as children perceive. 

Some of the lessons I have created are:

Because I believe so strongly that we can't assume that children have and understand these important skills, it is important to teach these skills and behaviors so that our children can be their best selves, have positive interactions and outcomes and be active members of their classroom community and family.

With that being said, if you would like to take a look at these social lessons and stories to see if they might work for your students or own children or grandchildren, click each title above and VOILA you will be able to check them out!