All aspects of schooling require social-emotional competency and a mastery of Executive Function. Yet, it is only recently that we have begun to question if and how kids learn these nuanced cognitive and affective skills, as well as how teachers teach them in K-12 education. One incredibly effective method to do this is by founding education in Social and Emotional Learning methods.

The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL1) states that Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) “… is how children and adults learn to understand and manage emotions, set goals, show empathy for others, establish positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.” However, we cannot do justice to SEL without interconnecting its concepts with Executive Function, the set of mental skills that direct thoughts, behaviors, actions, and feelings to yield results based on goals identified by yourself, for yourself, and to serve the needs of your future-self. At its core, Executive Function is composed of many overlapping regulatory constructs such as self-control that engage the brain’s proactive, intentional system. Using this top-down system, one can handle interruptions or setbacks that arise during the goal-attainment process by responding appropriately, for the benefit of both the future-self and society at large.

In light of clear connections between Executive Function and SEL, let me illustrate how Executive Function, and the explicit training of these skills, is essential to making SEL approach a productive and effective learning tool. Let me provide an overview of CASEL’s five pillars of Social and Emotional Learning, and demonstrate how each pillar explicitly relates to Executive Function skills.

Read the full article about social-emotional learning and executive function by Sucheta Kamath at Education Dive.