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SEL Can Aid in Academic Recovery

A recent editorial by SEL expert Sara Rimm-Kauffman, originally published in the Los Angeles Times, highlights SEL’s role in helping schools and students recover from the impacts of the pandemic.

Also, at a time like this, we can’t just think about academics, but also must consider a child’s social and emotional skills and well-being. It’s a good time to ask about our long-term goals for children and youth. In the 21st century, kids face an increasingly uncertain future. It’s not just about learning, but also about using new knowledge to work with others to address real-world problems in their communities and beyond.

Read the full article

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SEL Supports Academic Recovery After Pandemic

Maurice Elias of the EQuip Our Kids! speaker bureau was recently quoted regarding SEL’s support for academic recovery following the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Elias directs the Social-Emotional and Character Development Lab at Rutgers University.

We need to prioritize schools and classrooms that are safe, caring, supportive, and inclusive if we are to optimize students’ academic progress. This is true under any conditions, but especially so as a consequence of a pandemic. We need urgency leavened with loving patience.”

Read the full article

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Hiding in Plain Sight: Kids and Mental Health

Dr. Reigna El-Yashruti of the EQuip Our Kids! speaker bureau was recently interviewed for the Motherhood Moment blog.

Dr. El-Yashruti is a clinical psychologist in the Boston area. In August 2020, shortly after the largest non-nuclear explosion destroyed a large portion of Beirut, Lebanon, Dr. El-Yashruti held a virtual speaking engagement with Unilever Levant S.A.L. to support employees through education about common post-traumatic reactions, tools to promote well-being, and resources that could provide therapeutic interventions.

It’s important to remember that emotions in and of themselves are not good or bad, they’re simply experiences that contain information. If you as a parent start to notice patterns that are distressing for your child/the family unit or don’t quite seem to match the situation’s intensity, that could be an indicator that seeking counsel from trained providers could be helpful.

Read the full interview

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Making the Voting Process a Family Affair

With mid-term elections just around the corner, temperatures are rising. And it has less to do with climate change than the sheer number of heated promises, dire warnings and shaded truths that candidates pass for facts.  It’s not the greatest climate for introducing kids to the importance of voting.  The good news is that there are plenty of online resources to help make that discussion meaningful and even fun.

What Does Voting Have to Do With Social-Emotional Learning (SEL)?

SEL and voting are related in a few ways.

One, voting is a way for you to say whether you support SEL in your local schools.

Two, part of Social-Emotional Learning is social awareness. Elections and voting heighten our social awareness around issues and priorities for our local, state, and national communities.

And three, voting and elections is a great way to engage with your kids, teach them a bit about the wider world, and learn what’s important to them.

Start by Boosting Your News Literary Skills

Kids are great sleuths.   They can sniff out news from a variety of sources.  Unfortunately, they may rely on websites that skewer the facts.  This is particularly true during the election season.  Parents need to boost their news literary skills so that they can explain the concept of bias to their kids.

If their kids are fortunate enough to have SEL curriculum in school, that job will be made easier.  

Find websites that are dedicated to sharing tips about critically analyzing news reports.  The News Literary Project’s  is dedicated to helping readers determine the credibility of news so that they can make informed election choices.  Their recent article about determining reliable voting information sources offers solid advice that can also be shared with kids.

Don’t Bombard Your Kids With Too Much Detail

It is easy to get into the weeds when explaining the election process to your kids.  At the risk of having their eyes gloss over within seconds, start with talking about such basic concepts as the importance of voting. And then, this being the mid-term elections, segue into talking about how election outcomes at the local and state level can have powerful consequences even when the office of the presidency is not at stake.

Make it Fun!

Who says that learning about elections can’t be fun? 

In fact, a quick visit to iCivics.org will quickly make doubters into believers.  Created as a teacher-led resource, this site is also a tremendous gift to parents who want to educate their kids about all-things-government.  Their Election Headquarters section contains guides created by kids for kids, such as their Student Power Elections that offers ways for kids not old enough to vote to also engage in the electoral process. Reinforce their news literacy skills by playing their NewsFeedDefender game.  Other games focus on running a county and the election day voting process.

Making the election season a family affair may not guarantee your candidates win.  But it will give your loved ones another way to stay civics-minded and connected.  

Patricia Kutza is a partner (with Connie Payne) in DGMS & Co. Their company offers books and workshops based on social and emotional learning principles to schools, labor workforce units and senior living communities throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.

Photo by Parker Johnson on Unsplash

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SEL and Traditional Values: Supporting All Families

Regardless of political or religious affiliations, all parents want their children to thrive, instead of suffer. 

When parents picture their children thriving, they envision qualities and family values like these:

  • Being responsible, ethical, honest, accountable and respectful of others. 
  • A “can-do” mindset and ability to take on challenges with the confidence to reach their full potential.
  • The self-discipline to succeed independently even if hard work is required, then  contribute to their communities and maintain a strong country.
  • The willingness and capacity to pursue academic or creative success. 
  • The mental and emotional fortitude to cope with stress and adversity, leading to a long, productive, and healthy life.
  • The ability to develop healthy relationships and resolve conflicts.
  • The range of other hard and soft skills to be in demand in the current workforce and play important roles in organizations or succeed in their own businesses

For all our children to thrive, it’s time to teach them the skills that will help them so they avoid many of the painful circumstances that afflict so many lives

  • Depression and traumas
  • Drug abuse
  • Crime
  • Suicide
  • Violence, including domestic
  • Poverty

These conditions undermine families, communities, and ultimately our country. They require costly interventions that are often paid for by parents, relatives, tax payers, and charities.

In short, it’s better – and cheaper – to raise emotionally healthy and capable kids than to fix broken adults.

So, how do we do this?

Parents at home do the best they can to impart values and ways of being in life in a successful way. Why not have schools back you up by teaching all our kids the essential life skills to manage life’s challenges and to thrive.  

In education jargon, teaching these skills mostly goes by the clunky name of Social-Emotional Learning. Sometimes they are called Character Development or Leadership Life Skills. But these are the traditional – and necessary for success – skills that develop responsible, self-managing, and caring adults. They plant seeds of greatness in kids.  

Backed by significant positive research, these skills are now being taught in many U.S. public, private, charter and religious schools, including Christian, Catholic, Jewish and Muslim. Even in many of the U.S. military’s K-12 schools. Yet there is much more to be done to make sure they are taught – and comprehensively – in all our schools. 

Let’s be sure that all our schools support your desire that your children and those they grow up with gain the skills they need to thrive.  And that your children attend schools where all students are learning to be, and relate to each other from, their best selves.  

See videos of the results. 

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Alarm on children’s mental health has been ringing for decades. Too few have listened.

Maurice Elias of the EQuip Our Kids! Speaker Bureau recently appeared published an opinion piece in USA Today on the long-building youth mental health crisis.

Elias is Professor of Psychology at Rutgers and Director of the Rutgers Social-Emotional and Character Development Lab. He also serves on the leadership team of the Social-Emotional Learning Alliance for the United States.

“Despite claims that children’s mental health is a “national emergency,” the current situation doesn’t meet that definition, i.e., “a serious, unexpected, and often dangerous situation requiring immediate action.”

Children’s mental health – and the lack of access to appropriate and effective services – is a long-standing problem that hasn’t been addressed with urgency and systematic long-term action.”

Read the full article in USA Today

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Keeping All Kids Safe and Well

Visualizing our children safe as they work and play is a quick way to calm our fears and anxieties about their wellbeing.  But it only provides temporary solace. More focused action is needed if we want to see sustained results. 

There’s good news for parents who want to take that action. A constellation of organizations are eager to lend their support by promoting access to those programs and services that can help keep their kids safe.

Building life skills

Not-for-profit organizations like Committee for Children and EQuip Our Kids! rely on the latest research from leading university and government sources to design programs that can help youth build personal and interpersonal life skills—their lifelines to a promising future.  Observing youth who use these skills offers compelling evidence that they do indeed make a difference.  Kids learn new ways to deal with problems, so they rely less on resorting to aggression and hyperactivity.  They also learn alternate ways to deal with anxiety and depression.

Resilience promotes readiness

One of the most important life lessons we have learned from the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic is that such skills like resilience matter. The challenges of dealing with this pandemic required us to be strong and flexible – the same critical mix of skills that kids will need in a post-pandemic era  to  make smarter decisions when faced with all the unexpected circumstances they will encounter as they grow to be adults. 

 Incorporating safety into family routines

Home-based routines can help build that resilience, reinforcing what children learn from SEL (social and emotional learning) curriculum. This is especially valuable for those kids who worry about the welfare of their family, so much so that their anxiety interferes with getting enough sleep.  EQuip Our Kids!’s resource, How Incorporating Safety into Bedtime Routine Can Help Ease Your Child’s Anxiety, offers parents helpful tips for alleviating their children’s anxiety, especially during that all-important period that precedes bed time.

EQuip Our Kids! staying on course

EQuip Our Kids!,  a national nonprofit campaign, continues to lend their support  to other campaigns, such as Committee for Children, that advocate teaching youth life skills.  They recognize that parents and businesses can be important partners in advocating for the adoption of SEL (Social and emotional learning) curriculum which this nonprofit aims to include in every preK – 12 classroom by 2030.

Patricia Kutza is a partner (with Connie Payne) in DGMS & Co. Their company offers books and workshops based on social and emotional learning principles to schools, labor workforce units and senior living communities throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.

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School Safety: SEL, Sandy Hook, and Choosing Love

Scarlett Lewis of the EQuip Our Kids! Speaker Bureau recently appeared on the TeachThought Podcast to discuss SEL and school safety.

Scarlett’s son Jesse was one of the 26 victims of the Sandy Hook school shooting. That horrible and transformative event led her to research and ultimately advocate for Social-Emotional Learning as a cornerstone for safe schools.

“Kids that have a trusted adult, that are taught coping skills and social and emotional competence, kids that love and accept themselves, are not going to want to hurt themselves or others.”

Hear the full podcast episode

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Movement Forms to Fight GOP Crusade Against Social-Emotional Learning

Recently, 20 national organizations announced that they had formed a group called Leading With SEL to offer “research-based information on social and emotional learning and help broaden awareness of the benefits of supporting the social, emotional, and academic development of all children.”

EQuip Our Kids! is a member of Leading with SEL.

Read the full story on MSNBC

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Parents: 6 Ways You Can Bring Social-Emotional Learning Into Your Home

Social-emotional learning is the practice of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship building and responsible decision-making. When we practice and build these skills, we are better equipped to navigate stressors, anxiety and challenges. Parents need to build their own social and emotional skills so that they can share them with their kids.

6 Steps for Parents

Take care of yourself even when it feels like the last thing you can do right now.
Children are sensitive to the stresses of their caretakers. Children sense when we are worried or anxious. Build into your day a time for your own personal down time so you can understand what your needs might be.

If you find yourself experiencing stress and anxiety, try mindful breathing. This teaches us be present and focused and helps alleviate the worry and confusion. Breathing should be slow (about 5 breathes total). Start by breathing in through your nose while your belly rises and out through your mouth as your belly relaxes. When we take care of ourselves first, we are able to show up for our children.

Routines ground us and provide a sense of safety and security.
Design a daily routine for you and your child and stick to it.

Be present by being intentional when you are connecting with your child.
Set daily times for playing together, reading books, or just being together.

Kindness towards others helps us build an appreciation for our own lives.
It helps improve our physical and emotional mental health. Acts of service or helping others in
need provides this.

Practice attentive listening by modeling eye contact and body posture.
Ask questions in response to what you have heard. Validate your child’s feelings, fears and
concerns. For example: be mindful not to diminish your child’s feelings by saying, “Oh, don’t be scared.” Our job is to help our child accept and understand their feelings, develop self-compassionate and empathize with others.

Help your child identify, express and manage their emotions.
This helps children understand what they are feeling. Children need daily opportunities to practice this. For example, you can say, “I see your fists are clenched and you seem upset. Can you tell me what’s going on? What might help you calm down right now?”


Linda Glaser is the Director of Social & Emotional Education for the Community Circle LA Program and a member of the EQuip Our Kids! Speaker Bureau.