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Education Beyond Cooking: Social Emotional Learning (SEL)

Social Emotional Learning is becoming a hot topic and even more so now. Many schools are starting to teach kids how to express their feelings and cope with them, respect and get along with others, how to show empathy and kindness towards yourself and others and more. These are the skills offered by Social Emotional Learning (SEL) curricula. Here we will share why these skills are important and how you can help kids develop these skills.

Our children are faced with many challenges from bullying and, in this digital age, cyber bullying, to isolation and feelings of loneliness. These feelings are being further amplified by the situation we are finding ourselves in this year. If it’s been challenging for you and adults around you, just imagine how a child might feel. Social emotional learning is here to help children to gain these valuable skills:

  • Self-awareness - ability to recognize the impact of emotions, thoughts and to accurately name them

  • Self-management - ability to regulate emotions, thought, and, of course, actions

  • Social awareness - this includes recognizing how others might feel and feel empathy towards others, which leads to better cooperation and communication and builds stronger connections

These skills allow children to recognize and cope with their emotions and, as a result, become better leaders and decision makers.


How can we help children develop these skills?

Schools are now including SEL into their curricula, but we can continue teaching these skills at home. Understood.org compiled a handful of low-tech activities for kids that can easily be added to your child’s daily routine at home. Here is one of the activities:

Starfish and Tornadoes. The goal is to help kids notice how much energy they are feeling inside and help them use calming mechanisms when they have too much energy.

How to play: Make a picture of a thermometer. Draw a starfish at the bottom and a tornado at the top. Ask if your child feels calm and peaceful like a starfish or revved up like a tornado. When your child is feeling over-energized, brainstorm together about ways to feel more like a starfish. For example, bouncing a ball to help release some of that energy.

Note: Self-awareness can help with self-regulation, however, these activities take time and practice so be patient and supportive.

There are more terrific activities to practice as a family shared in Understood.org article 5 Social-Emotional Learning Games to Play With Your Child.

And here is a bonus one from iCook After School, a practice we called Mindful Eating: Every time we are tasting food with our little chefs, we try to use all of our five senses. We ask ourselves these questions: How does the food look, smell, taste? Can I hear anything when chewing it? How does it feel in my mouth? We do a quit mindful taste test for about 30 seconds and then share our observations. This practice helps children to slow down and focus on their senses.

We would continue sharing resources that we wholeheartedly believe that some skills must be taught from an early age.

Happy Cooking,

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