Social And Emotional Learning

Renewed interest in SEL validates the advantages of parochial school

An SEL workshop that took place last fall to help teachers continue to improve their ability to exceed the expectations of parents.
(Photo courtesy of the Diocese of Rockville Centre)

“Everything old is new again.”

When Peter Allen wrote this song in 1974 he certainly had an idea about the cyclical nature of life, but I wonder if he imagined that traditional values, in our case, traditional educational values would be “in again.” After years of experimenting with the latest educational fads, schools across the nation are recognizing that investing in the social and emotional management skills of students will have a greater effect on the trajectory of their lives than augmented reality or more flexible seating.

Catholic schools across the Diocese of Rockville Centre have maintained their focus on the “character education” of students, even as more permissive educational models were being implemented elsewhere. While current day Catholic school has embraced the integration of new educational technologies, personalized learning and new curriculum elements, the commitment to traditional values and religious tradition have never wavered. Catholic school has continued to teach biblical principles and traditional values, focusing imparting spirituality and self-discipline. That steadfast commitment has been based on an understanding that success and happiness in life is based in large part on attitude; attitudes that can be shaped by the school. Today, the heightened interest in Social Emotional Learning (SEL), makes it clear that Catholic schools were on the right track all along.

So what is Social Emotional Learning and why does it matter?

Social Emotional Learning is viewed as attentiveness to the whole child’s needs: social, emotional and academic. It is comprised of five major components: self-awareness, self-management, responsible decision-making, relationship skills and social awareness.

As everyone who has attended Catholic school can attest, these five principles are traditional parts of a Catholic education. In fact, these characteristics are often the most easily distinguishable differences in the way a young man or woman “carries themselves” in their daily interactions with others. They are the characteristics that we subconsciously recognize and silently attribute to the student being “a Catholic school kid.”

While the focus on SEL validates the approach that Long Island’s Catholic schools have been built on, we too strive to continuously improve. Improvement involves building a safer and more collaborative classroom environment where children can sort out their feelings, put aside their troubles and respect and appreciate their classmates. It is a formula that has endured for generations and made a Catholic education an advantage that lasts a lifetime.

Parents who choose Catholic Elementary School can be assured that the social and emotional components of a child’s education are at least as important as the academic side. They are the “Catholic school difference.”

Gary E. Layton is the director of marketing and enrollment for the Diocese of Rockville Centre.

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