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Why Most School SEL Programs Don't Work

Ahhhh SEL, good old Social Emotional Learning. Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside right?


By definition, SEL is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitude, skill-set and management of emotions. Set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others and establish and maintain positive relationships while making responsible decisions.


Mmm hmmm, did you get all that? It’s okay, you can give a chuckle. Like, who are these magical unicorns who have done all the internal work to deliver this critical message to our youth?


Me, I am that human. Not a magical unicorn, but a trauma tamer who has done her work! Truth be told, I feel this concept in my soul, I adore the concept and I wish more than anything, every time a district wastes their funds on another boxed set of, “Emotions Curriculum”, it wouldn’t sit on the shelf. But it does.

SEL to me, is a message of love and acceptance. A beautiful blend of hugs and skills that can empower you on this life journey, giving you the guidance and life skills, you will need to thrive.


The concept, brilliant, the application…not so much.


Now, let’s dissect most current applications of SEL a bit without being too wordy. Most people on Earth, do not have these skills "mastered", because they were never taught these skills in the first place and have tried to pick them up along their life journey.


A teacher with 30 kids in a class, just trying to teach algebra who is completely exhausted in general, most likely feeling overwhelmed, perhaps dealing with a health or personal issue, buying her own class supplies, dealing with the union, etc. is supposed to not only add this to their already rushed day, but be able to apply their own high Emotional Quotient (EQ) to the process.


Let’s double click on the above. Take a teacher who has their own trauma, perhaps a childhood trauma of abuse, a divorce, perhaps death of a loved one, financial issues, alcohol/drug dependency, or another emotional upset that they have been pushing down for decades, like we are all so good at doing.


Why would we pick this trauma transference person to trigger, and bring up difficult emotional talks with? Is this person adequately trained in SEL? Have they done the work to heal their traumas and gone through the process of living through these emotions to be able to apply them to a classroom? Will they be able to effectively transfer energy and communication with such a sensitive topic? Maybe, maybe not.


The application of SEL absolutely matters. It matters so immensely that there are million-dollar companies that teach this skill set to executives that do not have these skills.


This is working backwards! This is not using a 12-year platform to ready a student for real life. Emotions are part of every process we go through, why are we not including it in the Educational Curriculum as a very importat part of life?


The sole reason #GenerationKindful exists is to correctly apply this skill set. We know that the application process is flawed and have worked for years to perfect it. We have done the work and are specifically trained in the application of SEL, Emotional Intelligence & Regulation, Mental Health Nutrition, MBSR, Peaceful Problem Solving and other Mind, Brain Science applications.


As a 501c3 non-profit, #GenerationKindful, is a pioneer in this application of Social Emotional Learning, Emotional Intelligence & Regulation and Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction in your school! Starting it off right with our Kinder to 12th grade program, designed to grow with your child. Not just another boxed curriculum, we are the walking, talking educators, sharing our joy in just 15 mindful minutes per day.


With the skill set of Emotional Intelligence being an 81% predictor of all future life successes, it’s time to bring this critical life skill to the educational forefront and change the race to nowhere, into the journey to everywhere. Giving each student the best available chance at managing every emotion that they may experience. Saving the lives of the anxious and depressed because they will have the skill set to rise to that difficult and complex space in time.


Becoming proficient in the management of stress and the neurobiological functions students will no doubt encounter and truly applying a skill set to navigate lifes most challenging times.


These are the skill sets we must learn; this is how you roll out SEL!


You level the playing field; you teach every child, every day. Banishing the stigma of mental health topics because it becomes a part of the vernacular. There is no delicate dance around mental health talk, it’s simply a conversation about total health. We do not wait for the mental health crisis to appear before we talk about it and then work backwards. We teach ahead of it, so when it does arise, we identify it and apply our skill set and get through it.


THIS is prevention, THIS is the “anti” bullying, suicide, alcohol, drug, abuse campaign every school needs!


Why wouldn’t we start in kinder and work our way through each grade evolving and flowing with the emotions that change and flow through our lives at different ages and stages? Let's stop working backwards. This would be the absolute best way to prevent negative mental health outcomes. Knowledge. It will save lives. We just need to apply it correctly. #GenerationKindful does just that. Ask your school for the “Whole Student Experience” with #generationkindful.


Love Always in All Ways, Cheryl


Cheryl Sims-Chouman, MPH

Founder, #GenerationKindful Health Empowerment Series Mountain House CA healthempowermentseries@gmail.com



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