Giving Compass' Take:

• Engineering in SEL can help inform students in early childhood education by encouraging collaboration, teaching decision-making skills, and developing a growth mindset. 

How can project-based learning help formulate the same kind of skills and mindsets? 

• Read about how to incorporate social-emotional learning into everyday literacy instruction. 

With the growing focus on social and emotional learning (SEL) in education, you likely have come across dozens of different ideas and methods for incorporating it into your classroom. One you might not have encountered, however, is to teach engineering to our youngest learners.

There’s a natural connection between engineering and SEL core competencies, and engineering provides unique opportunities for educators to support and nurture SEL, especially when it’s taught in early childhood.

Below are four essential components for creating engineering challenges that support and grow SEL in young children.

  1. Set the engineering challenge in a real-world context.  At the heart of engineering is problem-solving, and at the heart of problem-solving is empathy. An engineer uses creativity and the knowledge of science and math to design technologies that improve the lives of people, animals, society and/or the environment.
  2.  Use engineering to develop responsible decision making. In early childhood, children are still developing the skill of making informed, responsible decisions. From our research and during our curriculum development, we found that giving students the options to choose what materials to use—one of the most important aspects of an engineering design challenge at this age—provided the most powerful learning opportunity for young kids.
  3. Use engineering to support collaboration. Engineering is all about teamwork and collaboration, a critical skill set in SEL. Very young children actively develop their awareness of the world around them.
  4. Use engineering to develop a growth mindset and persevere through failure. The improve step is an important part of any engineering task, as it’s a crucial step in the engineering design process (EDP). The EDP is an iterative problem-solving tool that engineers use to create technologies.

Read the full article about engineering in SEL for early childhood education by Nia Keith at Getting Smart