Pediatric Therapeutic Services

Why You Need to Introduce Social-Emotional Learning at the Classroom Level to Support Overwhelmed Students

emotional support In school

As student needs continue to rise following the COVID-19 pandemic, Pediatric Therapeutic Services (PTS) offers solutions based on Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) principles that help more students access their education without overwhelming therapy caseloads or school budgets. By applying Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) strategies to general education, you can help every student succeed in the least restrictive environment (LRE).

What Is Social-Emotional Learning (SEL)?

Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) is a methodology that draws from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), evidence-based psychology methods, and mindfulness exercises that increase awareness and calm the nervous system. When you incorporate these strategies and skills into your school curriculum, students learn how to:

  • Identify their feelings.
  • Use healthy coping strategies.
  • Reframe difficult thoughts, feelings, and emotions.

This approach is particularly helpful for students struggling with multiple areas of concern, such as anxiety, depression, and trauma. We’ve seen first-hand that students thrive when all staff members understand these concepts and teachers implement these strategies in the classroom.

Co-creating a social contract with the students that outlines the core values and expected behaviors of the classroom is one SEL-based approach that teachers can take to help students feel safe in school again.

SEL Enables Students to Develop the Five Core Competencies They Need to Succeed

When students feel overwhelmed, they cannot participate in class or access their education, which can cause them to fall behind in their development. Demonstrating and drawing on SEL strategies in school enables students to develop the following core competencies:

  • Self-Awareness
  • Social Awareness
  • Self-Management
  • Relationship Skills
  • Responsible Decision Making

By providing students with this social-emotional foundation, you pave the way for them to respond to stress in healthy ways, have positive peer-to-peer interactions, and effectively process their day-to-day lives both mentally and emotionally.

Likewise, when students have healthy coping skills and self-regulation techniques in their toolbox, their feelings of overwhelm decrease, enabling them to fully participate in the classroom and engage with the curriculum.

SEL strategies are equally as important for students who have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). They can be incorporated directly into IEPs and IEP teams can better facilitate learning and skill progression by applying these methods to therapy and related services.

PTS Brings SEL-Based Interventions Into the Classroom to Provide the Greatest Impact With Fewer Billable Hours

With so many students in need of additional mental and emotional support, districts, schools, and teachers must address common challenges at the classroom level. This is where PTS can help. Our integrated strategic interventions work across disciplines, including mental health, social work, and all types of therapy, to support the whole child.

As part of our Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) approach to special education and related services, we created a suite of Tier 1 and Tier 2 interventions called The Capable Classroom™. A couple of these SEL-based interventions include:

  • I Know What to Do! Card Game: A social skills game that supports students who struggle with impulsiveness, need social stories and scripts, and/or need help learning or practicing appropriate social responses.
  • Super Self™—Self-Regulation Group: A self-regulation group that helps individual students, groups, and classes build sensory awareness, develop social skills, and practice and apply self-regulation coping skills. Every student completes a self-reflective report card to track progress.

These pre-referral interventions allow students to build the skills they need, without being placed on therapy caseload—thereby providing the most benefit while also reducing billable hours.

If you would like to learn more about how to embed social emotional learning in general as well as special education and related services, download our free eBook.

Help More Students Access Their Education by Applying SEL Strategies in the Classroom

Following SEL best practices helps all students in both special and general education environments to fully access school material. By addressing common concerns at the classroom level, you can help more students succeed while avoiding unnecessary and costly referrals. 

When you partner with us, we act as an extension of your related services team to deliver the right level of services and interventions to every student without adding extra work to your plate. Contact PTS to learn more today!

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