Why is it Essential to Include Parents and Guardians in SEL Programming?

Social-emotional learning, also known as SEL, is the process of acquiring interpersonal and emotional skills such as empathy, cooperation, conflict resolution, self-awareness, and self-control. In recent years, there has been a growing recognition of the vital role social-emotional learning plays in a child’s development. Knowing this, educators have begun prioritizing SEL and mental health literacy programming in their classrooms to help students develop crucial lifelong skills. However, with schools being the primary place for SEL implementation, parental involvement in these programs holds immense value and is often overlooked.  

At iMPACTFUL, we believe learning doesn't stop once students leave the classroom. It’s continual, whether in school, on the playground, or at home, and parents/guardians should always be included in the conversation. Below we've included four reasons why parents play a pivotal role in SEL and what this may look like at home.  

Parents Are Role Models, and Kids Reflect Their Behavior:

Parents and guardians play the most critical role in their children's lives. Their actions and behaviors influence a child’s social and emotional development. According to the Institute of Youth Development and Excellence, from childhood, we learn by observing and imitating our parents. When parents actively model SEL practices like self-awareness, emotional regulation, and effective communication, parents create a safe and nurturing home environment. By continuously reinforcing these life skills, their children are more likely to adapt and apply them in their own lives. 

Individualized Support:

Each individual has their own strengths, weaknesses, and life experiences, and in most cases, parents and guardians intently understand their child's unique personality and specific requirements they may need. Including parents in SEL programming allows educators to acquire invaluable perspectives enabling them to tailor their approach accordingly. Educators can address individual students' needs and aid in their social-emotional development more accurately through this collaborative insight. 

Strong Home-School Partnership:

In most cases, a strong connection between parents and schools is essential to facilitate a meaningful education. In a study done by The Education Hub, parental involvement in school-based learning activities is associated with improved student outcomes, surpassing the effects of most other interventions, as supported by research. It contributes to better psychosocial adjustment and academic achievement in children, particularly at ages 7 and 11, although its impact on adolescent learning varies. Including parents in core, curriculum programming establishes a collaborative approach toward enhancing their child's social-emotional well-being. Through consistent communication, resource-sharing, and joint goal-setting, parents, educators, and students are empowered to collectively work toward shared objectives. 

Fostering Parent-Child Trust, Engagement, and Support:

At iMPACTFUL, we believe the student is the expert regarding SEL and mental health literacy. Every day, a child continuously learns about themselves and others within their school community. In a supportive home environment, they can teach their parents or guardians practical tools and exercises to foster honest communication, leading to an increased sense of trust. Parents establish a support system that nurtures their child's social-emotional well-being by including them in their journey, promoting holistic growth and development. 

Social-Emotional Learning, mental health literacy, and their roles in nurturing children's well-being are at the core of what we do here at iMPACTFUL. We recognize that fostering skills related to emotional intelligence, resilience, and interpersonal relationships at any age is crucial for driving lasting change in a community. Our Creative Coping Toolkit (CCT) equips individuals with practical strategies, exercises, and resources to effectively navigate social and emotional challenges, promoting a positive and thriving environment for all. 

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