SEL Development, Part 4: Embedding Play Develops SEL Competencies

We previously posted in Play Requires Strong Leadership about the report released on March 12th by the Aspen Institute called The Practice Base For How We Learn: Supporting Students’ Social, Emotional, and Academic Development. In this five part series, we look at each section of the report, and show how Play-Based Communication is the natural solution to the problems presented.

Premise 4) Embedding Play Develops SEL Competencies The fourth section of the report speaks to the importance of explicit and embedded instruction, as well as a caring classroom and social climate, in developing SEL competencies. Cooperation, conflict resolution, managing emotions, and navigating social situations are all areas of consideration to be developed through explicit or embedded instruction, but clarifies:

...explicit instruction does not mean teacher-led lectures. Instead, it involves creative and engaging learning experiences such as role-playing, story writing, interactive discussions, and problem-solving real situations in the classroom or school environment.

Indeed, this is what we call the Play-Communication-Wavelength. Our system is the embodiment of role-playing and improvisational storytelling. By bringing life into a Paptertalker™ puppet, students can have interactive discussions with fictional characters or even entities such as subatomic particles or internal organs, or a character in a painting such as the Mona Lisa. The power of the art form has been proven time and again, and is recorded in many of our teacher journals.

The report continues, as our body of work has continued to show, that academic instruction is indeed most effective when social and emotional dimensions of learning are deliberately embedded into lesson, stating:

Every academic subject area provides opportunities for students to think through social and emotional issues. Literature and social studies offer occasions to discuss how fictional or historical characters handled social or emotional situations and what might have happened if they had dealt with these situations differently.

What better way to discuss how a character would handle a situation than to ask them? Again, it is this powerful combination – of explicit and embedded instruction – that make Play Language such a powerful form of communication.

Finally, the fourth section addresses the importance of creating inclusive and caring school culture. This is what we call the Learning Habitat. It stands in direct opposition to the factory based system which mires our teachers and students into test-driven, results-oriented production line that has resulted in record levels of mental health issues including substance abuse, suicide, and school-shooter syndrome. It is only by transforming the culture through the adoption of Play – one of the most powerful forces of nature – into the classroom that we can have an hope to transcend these horrors. Next up — SEL Development, Part 5: Home School and Community Partnerships

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