SEL After Hours: 5 Tips for Including SEL in Summer and Afterschool Programs

Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) doesn’t need to stop when the bell rings. Create a plan to incorporate SEL instruction and training into afterschool programs, summer school, and professional development sessions. Get inspired with these five ideas:

Integrate SEL with Core Academics: Social and emotional skills are implicitly woven into Common Core standards. Take, for example, a standard that states students must be able to justify conclusions, communicate findings to others, and respond to others’ arguments. When performing these tasks, students need strong social awareness, relationship, and responsible decision-making skills (as defined by CASEL). Teaching students how to creatively solve problems, analyze situations, communicate with and respect others, and evaluate and reflect (all different aspects of the social and emotional skills mentioned above) helps reinforce and teach the tenants of the standard.

Mentoring: Mentoring is critical to students’ social, emotional, and cognitive development. The smaller group settings of afterschool and summer programs are ideal for building effective mentoring programs. Foster strong connections — both adult-to-student and student-to-student — by creating a mentoring platform that builds student competency and provides support, encouragement, and advice.

Remedial Instruction: Students who need remedial instruction after school or during the summer may be among those most in need of social and emotional skills. Use these courses to engage at-risk students in the process of learning through SEL programming. Assessments like Aperture Education’s DESSA Comprehensive System can help afterschool and summer staff assess students’ social and emotional needs. Use the data to start a conversation with each student about areas that need improvement and how he or she can leverage strengths to make headway.

Ninth Grade Academies and Grade Transition Programs: Research shows that the majority of high school dropouts actually begin the process during the transition from 8th to 9th grade. To help ease the transition from middle school to high school, many schools offer introductory academies during the summer. These programs can help students become familiar with the high school environment and learn about graduation requirements. Incorporating SEL into the programs can dramatically boost their effectiveness and success.

Professional Development: Summer is a perfect time to get teachers, counselors, and administrators up to speed on SEL. Take advantage of any PD hours your school has reserved before students return from break to discuss the importance of SEL and review strategies for assessing and teaching these skills. There are many ways to teach SEL after school lets out. Afterschool and summer school programs can be an ideal setting to foster social and emotional skills in students. Pick one or more of our suggested strategies, and get started today!  

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