5 SEL Strategies to Practise at Home

A growing body of research suggests that helping children to develop good social and emotional skills early in life makes a big difference in their long-term health and well-being. According to Daniel Goleman, author of “Emotional Intelligence”, he says that through family life, “we learn how to feel about ourselves and how others will react to our feelings; how to think about these feelings and what choices we have in reacting’ how to read and express hopes and fears.” Therefore, Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) first takes place at home. When parents are able to interact with their children by helping them to work through feelings constructively and engage in respectful and caring relationships, children will then be able to navigate emotional challenges such as a disappointment, hurt or anger successfully.

Besides enrolling your children for DolphinPODs’ Social-Emotional-Cognitive (SEC) school programs, here are 5 strategies which you can consider doing on a regular basis to help improve your child’s SEL. These suggestions are also not an exhaustive list, and some may require advance thought and planning to put into action. Begin with one item and add on more as you gain comfort and confidence with using these strategies.

Providing children with opportunities to use their voices and make decisions are great ways to boost your child’s autonomy and confidence. It teaches them what it means to build respect, cooperate and develop their own problem-solving skills. Avoid overwhelming them with too many choices and make certain choices “rituals” where they get to choose consistently., e.g., What do you want to do on Saturday morning? Go to the park or the library? Get them involved in fixing problems and learn to trust that your child may be able to find a good solution to the problem with some careful consideration., e.g.,If there are books all over your child’s bedroom floor, ask her how she thinks the floor could stay clear.

Apologizing does not mean that you forget whatever your child did that was upsetting. Actually, it means that you clarify that some of what you said was hurtful and had to do with your own frustration. “It’s not whether you make a mistake, it’s how you handle that mistake”. Parents’ ability to acknowledge mistakes and accept responsibility for actions is imperative in helping their children to do the same. An effective parental apology involves a deep understanding of our child’s feelings, a great deal of self-control, and good social skills.  They are demonstrating that taking action to accept responsibility after a mistake is more important than the mistake itself.

It is normal to feel irritated or angry at times. Yet it is important to bear in mind that modeling is a powerful teacher. Learn to recognise triggers and make a plan to do something before you lose control. Allocate a “quiet spot” where family members can go when they are upset, or stop talking and leave the room for a while to calm down. Discuss as a family about what everyone can do to stay calm by creating an emotional safety plan.

Make yourself a good example, and teach your child the importance of making time to eat properly, exercise and rest. Make sure your child has time to have fun, and make sure that your child hasn’t scheduled every moment of his or her life with no “down time” to relax. Caring for oneself and even having fun will help your child stay balanced and better deal with stressful times.

In order to have friends, we have to learn to be a friend. Teach your child the skill of empathy or feeling another’s pain. By learning to connect with others, children can feel empowered and strengthen their resilience. Brainstorm with your child on how they can help others, e.g., you and your child can prepare food in a homeless shelter, go on a fundraising walk-a-thon or simply ask her to collaborate with you on household activities. This teaches children that by sharing and helping, they can make a difference in the lives of others.

Lastly, don’t forget to work together with your child’s school than work alone. Both schools and parents contribute in different ways to make the child’s learning effective. Learning SEL skills is like having an insurance policy for a healthy, positive, successful life. When children are able to master them, they are more likely to succeed in school and life.

Early Childhood Education

According to UNICEF, the early childhood period is considered from the time of conception to eight years of age. The earliest years of a child’s life are also considered by scientists, child psychologists, and other such related organizations as quite crucial in terms of the child’s growth and development. During this period the child learns the necessary cognitive, social, emotional and physical skills required for future success. Children benefit when the environment around them (household primarily) is supportive, proper nutrition and healthcare, and learning opportunities are provided. Early childhood education positively impacts attendance, retention, and learning of children as they progress and go up grade levels.

There is no denying that learning of physical, social, emotional, and cognitive begin at home, however, with the changing waters of the 21st Century and more and more people joining the work force, young children are being sent to daycares and preschool. These centres have now come to be the child’s second home, where they spend most of the waking hours of their day. Therefore, it is now salient that these preschools provide the essential learnings and education for children so that they may adjust relatively easily as they move on to higher levels of education. With this, a great deal of pressure has befallen preschools – the responsibility of equipping little children with the necessary skills and meeting developmental milestones which would otherwise take place in the household.

Dolphin Under 5 is a preschool, fully equipped to meet the needs of the child and parent when it comes to early child growth and development. The early child education program provided by the Dolphin Under 5 team is based on the POD methodology of Play-Others-Downtime founded by Dr.Shimi Kang, a Harvard-trained Psychiatrist, situated in Vancouver, Canada. Through this methodology, children learn the competencies of social and emotional learning in a fun and unique manner. Play allows children to explore their environment, understand themselves and others (such as their likes and dislikes), what it means to play fair, and refine their gross and fine motor skills. Others is where the core concept is taught to the child, during the preschool years, a child learns different shapes, colors, objects, alphabets, etc. all that help create a link with the real world so that the child can think critically and communicate effectively. Lastly, during the Downtime period, children as given various means to help relax themselves, such as deep breathing techniques, meditations, coloring, etc. These techniques help slowly but surely teach the child the importance and effects of relaxing, especially during times of overwhelming unwanted emotions.

Located at the heart of Delhi, Dolphin Under Five is a, early learning centre in Vasant Kunj, surrounded by a very safe and supportive neighbourhood. The internationally designed facility is packed with various physical and mental exercises to ensure the workout of both the body and mind. Here, we believe the more doses of POD the child gets, the E.A.S.I.E.R (Emotional Wellness, Adaptability, Social Awareness, Innovation, Ethics, and Resilience) things become!

Activity Centre for Toddlers

Early years of a child are crucial to meeting and developing necessary milestones, which are usually achieved through a variation of play and socializing (within an age-appropriate spectrum) with others. These developmental milestones can be broken down into three salient aspects of focus – social, emotional, and cognitive. Social development and learning work towards an awareness of others, responses and behaviour that are befitting such scenarios, and the learning of concepts such as empathy, compassion, kindness, etc. through everyday interactions. When it comes down to it, searching, inspecting, and choosing the right space for your child makes up for a huge decision!

Through integration of international research, methodology, and infrastructure Dolphin POD is a toddler activity centre in South Delhi that has it all! Dolphin POD prides itself on creating an environment that fosters growth and success through the POD (Play-Others-Downtime) methodology, allowing children to really explore not only the external space but also the internal self. The activities that children engage in link closely to achieving the purpose of learning, whether a concept or a physical skill. A lot of work with refining the child’s emotional and social concepts of Kindness, Gratitude, Compassion, Empathy, etc. as well as more cognitive skills through physical play in strengthening fine motor and gross motor skills, balance, hand-eye-coordination, etc. to provide overall development within in and every child are the step-by-step goals.

This is an activity centre for kids in the heart of Vasant Kunj, with a trained staff to take care of your child’s every need! From engagement in a variety of activities dealing with physical and emotional development to provision of healthy meals and snacks which fulfil your child’s nutrient requirements! The infrastructure is built to support all forms of development as well, built for quality indoor and outdoor play, working on problem-solving skills, contribution, creativity and collaboration. Working on all the spheres of the child’s development is a strong belief at this activity centre. We understand that your children deserve only the best, especially during the early years of their development and here at Dolphin POD we promise nothing less!

Personality Development

Understanding of personality is most definitely not a unidimensional concept, in fact there are a variety of factors, external and internal, that affects the personality of the child. A child’s personality is affected by both ‘nature’ and ‘nurture’ – the gender, heredity, environmental, and psychological. Though every parenthope and prays for their child’s happiness and wellbeing, they also crave for the child’s ability to ‘fit in’, to be adaptable and resilient (situational based requirement) towards the society and their community. As children grow older and face the realities of adulthood, at times harsh, they want to know that their child will be equipped with the ability to persist and overcome the hurdles and struggles that life has to offer. This is where the Consciousness Quotient (CQ) comes in!

The Consciousness Quotient (CQ) is what is now being considered essential to develop the ‘new intelligence’. Much like the IQ and EQ, CQ has now come into focus to help navigate the changing waters of the 21st Century in order to accomplish overall success. CQ comprises of five salient components – Critical Thinking, Creativity, Communication, Collaboration, and Contribution, that when mastered will ensure that children are well-rounded contributing members of society. In a rapidly changing, technologically inclined, creative world, it’s important that everyone, not just children, are skilled with thinking critically and creatively, to come up with new and unique solutions to dragged old problems. That we can communicate and contribute our points effectively as well as listen actively to the points of others and therefore work together and collaborate as a team to move forward positively! Here at Dolphin POD, that is what we consider to be personality development for kids!

Here, we’re not just looking at how well-behaved a kid is, whether the child is disciplined or not to determine and make judgements on their personality. We believe in working on both spectrums – discipline and CQ, however, CQ is on the driver’s seat and takes utmost priority. Ensuring that the CQ of a child is developed will ensure that discipline will come too. The development of CQ skills, require that children are socially and emotionally developed through social and emotional learning. This is where children learn to become emotionally and socially aware (of the self and others), learn to make responsible decisions, develop relationship skills, and manage self and others. Each one of the mentioned skills set ensures a positive personality development within children!

Through the Dolphin POD Philosophy and POD (Play-Others-Downtime) methodology, both the Dolphin POD as well as the Dolphin Under 5 Preschool programs, are equipped to help gauge your child to become the best critical thinkers, effective communicators, creative innovators, and productive contributors and collaborators they can possibly be! This evidence-based, scientifically oriented program has shown tremendous results in the overall wellbeing of the child and ensures a positive personality development to cater to the growing needs of the 21st Century!

Why PLAY is Important!

Play is very important here at Dolphin P.O.D – the ‘P’ in P.O.D stands for play, that’s how important! During play, the child is free to explore their environment, both internal and external, as well as get to know more about themselves and others! Play is crucial to reaching the developmental milestones of children; refining their gross and fine motor skills, their balance, hand-eye coordination, to name a few. Along with these, children get acquainted with their own likes and dislikes, their own shortcomings and strengths, grasping appropriate ways to express themselves, etc. Through various group activities, children learn certain etiquettes of play, such as fair play, following rules, collaboration, contributing and communicating their own ideas to enhance the experience. Play is so essential (not just for children) that it is the purely innocent essence of children! Without play, children would seize to be the fun and adorable little humans that we know and love!

Dr. Stuart Brown, founder of National Institute of Play, has divided or broken down, rather, play in 7 different types and mentions the varying benefits of each:

Attunement Play

Regarded as the earliest forms of play, has a lot to do with facial expressions, gestures, tones and sounds, which the child picks up from the adults around him or her. Learning activities for kids such as peek-a-boo, mirroring games and such, builds awareness and fosters happiness. Entering your child’s world shows that you are listening and understanding him/her.

Attunement Play
Social Play

Social Play

Until your child starts going to school, you, as parents, are their whole world. They learn HOW to play by your playful interactions with them and this helps them learn how to play with and treat others when the time comes. Some great activities for kids and parents can be baking/cooking together, doing a fun jigsaw puzzle, using building blocks to create, or starting some other art project. Some tips to follow; don’t be too instructive with your child, giving too many instructions may hamper their own imagination and creativity, don’t let your child boss you around either as this may in fact turn him/her into a spoilt brat – find the right balance through experimentation and keeping these tips in mind!

Pretend Play

Imaginative or pretend play is where the creativity really comes to the forefront and your child uses this opportunity to make sense of their world, their mind, and the world and mind of others through this play. Some common group activities for kids tend to be playing ‘Teacher’, ‘Doctor’, and other such real-life re-enactments. Even though you may not want to play pretend with your child, take the time to discuss with them nature or social issues, or maybe read a fun bedtime story instead.

Pretend Play
Movement Play

Movement Play

This mode of play gives our children a better spatial understanding; the effects of gravity, refining our balance when we dance, not to mention the physical efforts to get a movement right strengthens our resilience and adaptability. Some fun learning activities for children can be; hide-and-seek, running and chasing games, rough-housing games involving a lot of tumbling and tickling can help release any pent-up stress hormones in children and parents alike which would otherwise find release through tantrums!

Object Play

Play such as building and creating through the manipulation of objects; blocks and legos, puzzles, dolls and figurines, allow children to explore the functions of various everyday objects. These learning activities are great to teach and evolve the child’s ability to problem solve and rely on their critical-thinking more than on others!

Object Play
Storytelling-Narrative Play

Storytelling-Narrative Play

The nature of this play helps develop children’s divergent thinking, being able to think creatively or out-of-the-box. Different stories provide children with different information on self and others; cultures, backgrounds, and experiences. This mode of play helps in improving the child’s sense of well-being and self-identity. An interesting learning activity for kids can be where parents make up a beginning and let the children explore and take it forward, if they find themselves stuck or repeating the same ideas and plot, provide an idea or two.

Creative Play

Creativity is fostered and developed in children initially during pretend play and role-playing, this encourages them to think of new ideas and ways to do things, adding function and progress for the future. Stimulation of creative ideas can be done by asking your child to come up new ways of using everyday items and objects, or toys. Express your openness and curiosity by asking them to come up with more than one idea and add on your own.

Creative Play

Social Emotional Development

We are very aware of the importance of intellectual development for academic success in our little ones, but what about their social and emotional development? What about their ability to adapt with changing times and circumstances in a manner that is emotionally healthy? What role does social and emotional development play in their overall success – academic and otherwise? Research has shown that it in fact plays a very big and impactful role!

According to Roger Weissberg, Chief Knowledge Officer of the Collaboration for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, states that social and emotional learning can positively impact the student’s ability to succeed in school, careers and life. Fostering SEL (social and emotional learning) in children from a young age can also prevent many mental health issues that may develop later on, as children will learn to be better equipped with emotional and social management. SEL has proven to reduce anxiety, substance abuse, violence, depression, while increasing attendance, test scores and prosocial behaviour such as kindness, compassion, empathy and personal awareness. The earlier the introduction to social and emotional development in children, the better the capability to adapt and find balance in high-stress situations.

As toddlers, temper tantrums and mood swings are very common, so is a possessive nature and difficulty is sharing with others. And in just a matter of years children shift from spending most of their time with family and close friends to spending large chunks of it interacting, playing and learning with other children at school. This makes learning to get along with one another, along with other social skills and emotional development, essential to school readiness.

Social and Emotional development has been well-researched and is an evidence-based science that has shown tremendous positive results in children of all age groups. The purpose of Dolphin POD, a one-of-a-kid Achievement Centre located in South Delhi, is to instil this learning in children through various meditation and deep breathing techniques, proactive games, and collaborative activities. Through the POD (Play-Others-Downtime) method, kids acquire a positive mindset and life skills that develop emotional wellness, social connectivity, innovation, resiliency, and adaptability, needed to achieve success in both tangible and intangible parameters.

Constructing the foundation of social and emotional development in our little ones must begin at home, the environment they are engaged with for the longest period and familiar with during their initial developmental years. A helpful tip to help guide children towards positive SEL skills is to practise empathy. It’s normal for a child to feel alone when facing adversity for the first time and practising empathy can keep their self-esteem intact. Share with your little one about your childhood, the mistakes your once made and the same feelings you faced too, as a way of expressing empathy and promoting positive social and emotional growth!