head and heartHuffington Post shares a recent survey from NBC’s Parent Toolkit using the Princeton Survey Research Associates International found that the majority of U.S. parents interviewed ranked social and communication skills as the most important to build success for school and life even beyond academic grades. National experts would agree and offer greater detail on what those skills are.

Social and emotional learning (SEL) involves acquiring and effectively applying the knowledge, attitudes and skills to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.
Fortunately we don’t have to make the choice between teaching social and emotional skills and academic performance. In fact, one relies upon the other, just as the head needs the heart. Essential life skills serve as a foundation for academic achievement whether we define it as grade point averages, results from high stakes tests or other measures of performance. And many schools are not only making that connection but also implementing research based curricula that teach social and emotional learning alongside academic content.
While teaching skills like empathy, active listening and collaborative problem solving, schools are simultaneously preventing unhealthy, high risk behaviors including school violence. The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) examined over 200 studies of schools with and without SEL programming and found an 11 percentile point advantage on achievement tests among students in schools that placed an emphasis on both head and heart. And it stands to reason. Students who are practiced in problem solving and responsible decision making will be better equipped to approach test questions with critical thinking skills. Read more…