Social Emotional Learning = Awareness

There's a relatively new buzz phrase in education these days, which people are calling "social emotional learning."

What is it exactly? According to information from the Handbook of Social Emotional Learning: Research and Practice published in April 2015, Social Emotional Learning (SEL) provides a foundation for safe and positive learning, and enhances students' ability to succeed in school, careers, and life. It has five major components:

- Self Awareness

- Self Management

- Social Awareness

- Relationship Skills

- Responsible Decision-making

School is regarded as one of the primary places where students learn these skills. "An effective SEL program should incorporate four elements represented by the acronym SAFE." (Durlak et al., 2010, 2011):

  1. Sequenced: connected and coordinated sets of activities to foster skills development

  2. Active: active forms of learning to help students master new skills

  3. Focused: emphasis on developing personal and social skills

  4. Explicit: targeting specific social and emotional skills

According to the clinicians who pioneered social emotional learning, they found the following in their research about the short-term and long-term benefits of SEL in students.


  • Know and can manage themselves

  • Understand the perspectives of others and relate effectively with them

  • Make sound choices about personal and social decisions

These social and emotional skills are some of several short-term student outcomes that SEL pro­grams promote (Durlak et al., 2011; Farrington et al., 2012; Sklad et al., 2012). Other benefits include:


  • More positive attitudes toward oneself, others, and tasks including enhanced self-efficacy, confidence, persistence, empathy, connection and commitment to school, and a sense of purpose

  • More positive social behaviors and relationships with peers and adults

  • Reduced conduct problems and risk-taking behavior

  • Decreased emotional distress

  • Improved test scores, grades, and attendance

In the long run, greater social and emotional competence can increase the likelihood of high school graduation, readiness for postsecondary education, career success, positive family and work relationships, better mental health, reduced criminal behavior, and engaged citizenship (e.g., Hawkins, Kosterman, Catalano, Hill, & Abbott, 2008; Jones, Greenberg, & Crowley, 2015).

Social Emotional Education has been low on the totem pole as far as measured standards have been concerned in our schools until very recently. Whether a school has affluent students, gifted students, lower socioeconomic students, or students with a history of violence, social emotional learning applies to EVERYONE. Of course it's important to have academics standards (and schools depend on upholding these standards for funding) but where are the school standards for learning how to get along with others, or how to manage your own negative thoughts & feelings, or learning on a fundamental level the difference (and consequences of) right and wrong?

A very popular program with an SEL model uses simple tools or modules for imparting it's principals, which are:

- Breathing

- Quiet/Safe Place

- Listening

- Empathy

- Personal Space

- Using words

- Garbage can tool

- Taking time

- Please and thank you

- Apology and forgiveness

- Patient

- Courage

HOW HMHB COMPARES TO THIS MODEL: All of these areas of understanding, communication, and character education are examined in the HMHB program. We have tools, (breath techniques, and beyond breath techniques) for calming/quieting the mind and emotions-- we have simple face it and erase it tools which take the externalized problems out at the root on the inside- without any talking! This is the pinnacle of what being proactive versus reactive is. If we observe, then face & erase our reaction, what we're left with is our intrinsic goodness, insight, and peace. Ignoring our reactions, breathing through them, talking about them, are all widely accepted coping mechanisms, while facing and erasing them is a revolutionary solution. (See our one page called, WHY WE FACE AND ERASE for more.) We understand this is a fairly radical concept--of not talking through a problem, but rather being quiet with attention inside on a problem-- but it absolutely works to erase any negative feeling through the power of our own inner attention. In fact, kids develop greater insight about their feelings and problems, the emotional stages of conflict, and conflict resolution by quietly looking inside, and "feeling the feeling" with direct attention. (See our blog on HMHB CONFLICT RESOLUTION for more.)

We have a designated space called the "zen zone" where kids can work on themselves either voluntarily or as a result of conscious disciplinary action. Though, because the tools we teach help kids help themselves, anywhere can become your very own zen zone. In our full program we have chapters, posters, handouts, readings, stories, videos and experiential exercises (called adventures) to demonstrate how we're all connected, how to work on ourselves in all aspects of life, and what citizenship, humility, empathy, kindness, gratitude, uniqueness of the individual, patience, and bravery really are.

The real key to establishing or instilling any social emotional learning is through personal inquiry, insight, and reinforcement. HMHB is no different. If group leaders/schools/parents are not prompting, asking the right questions, or reinforcing the tools, then progress is much more slow-going, or no-going. As we say in HMHB, practice + patience + persistence makes progress.

Social Emotional Learning is exactly what HMHB provides and beyond. We give kids the tools to help themselves be aware, handle their emotions, learn what positive and negative character qualities are, and to learn in class and from experience the consequences of thoughts, words, and actions to ourselves and others. Plus we do it all in a way that's accessible, fun, and gets to the root of the problem. We also help group leaders every week of their programs.

If your school or group is interested in having a comprehensive social emotional learning program, then HMHB is for you. Check out our WHY HMHB? and GET STARTED pages on this web site for more information.


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Healthy Minds, Healthy Bodies Kids Program ® (HMHB) is the youth outreach division of Adventures In Consciousness, a registered 501c3, ID #: 31116. Adventures In Consciousness is not responsible for your mental health. Participating in, or viewing any of our content, is done at the discretion of the participant. 


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Ventura, CA 93002

Office: 805.628-9211

Fax: 805.641.1912


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