Social Emotional Learning activities with Eleni Vardaki

10 Social Emotional Learning Activities

WHAT’S THE ISSUE: There’s a limit to how far you can develop your Social Emotional Learning skills when you have too much stress or anxiety. The same is true for students in school. In this article, you will find body-based Social Emotional Learning activities focused on stress management and self-awareness. You will also find mindset training and mindset assessment activities. Why mindset training, you might ask? In my experience, students who have a Fixed Mindset are unlikely to make meaningful progress in their emotional and social competences, let alone become more academically successful, unless they develop more of a Growth Mindset. That’s why when I’m hired to facilitate a staff training event, time permitting, I recommend setting aside a session just for mindset training activities.

Social EMotional Learning Through Self-Awareness

Our social skills – ‘soft skills’, ‘human skills’, ‘people skills’ or whatever else you want to call them – decline when we are unable to regulate our emotions. Stress and anxiety that are above a certain threshold affect our ability to self-regulate and manage our emotions. They also affect our ability to learn well.

It’s not uncommon for students to become stressed and anxious just from being in a school setting. It might be that they find the noise levels of an average classroom/school stressful or draining. They may be dealing with friendship/bullying/romance issues. Perhaps they find doing Maths activities stressful as they feel like don’t feel they’re good at solving mathematical problems. It might even be that they have trouble concentrating in class. This may be causing them to feel stupid or incompetent. And as we know, you can’t learn very well if you aren’t able to concentrate very well. 

Whatever the case may be, there are many reasons why a child may feel stressed or anxious in class or during break/recess/lunch time. Whatever the case may be, what we know is that we can help them manage their emotions by incorporating simple stress management techniques into the lesson. 

See below for ideas on how you can teach your students self-regulation skills.

5 Finger Breathing technique explained

From a teacher’s point of view, students constantly interrupting others when they are speaking can be a real headache for teachers in schools worldwide. Research has been done on how to reduce bullying in schools through Social Emotional Learning. However what researchers often miss is the fact that most of the problems teachers battle with in 2024 classrooms often have more to do with manners (or rather the absence of manners) than bullying. Interrupting another student when it’s their turn to talk a real-world social competences issue in many classrooms right now. 

Teaching students self-regulation skills, and reminding them that they are responsible to practice them can help turn things around. I believe it’s important for this to occur within the broader context of support from the top. When a school headmaster/principal supports teachers by helping to educate students, and sometimes even parents, on the importance of kindness and manners as social competences, this can filter down to staff and students. 

If your school has parents who try to shun their share of the responsibility in educating their children by claiming this is ‘the teachers’ job’, you may need to educate them on the fact that responsibility for raising their child is shared between school and them as parents. Teachers may even want to encourage students to teach their parents these self-regulation skills, as they may not have had the opportunity to learn how to better manage their own stress and emotions when they were in school.

Emotional Literacy education is an important aspect of the self-awareness pillar of Social Emotional Learning education in school. Below you will find the five Emotion Mats I use most frequently as an Academic Coach and EFT Practitioner when I’m working with upper primary and secondary school students online. 

You can click on the image to learn more about some of the ways I integrate these in my work as an educator and coach. Let me know if this helps you in your work with kids.

EXAMPLE OF SOCIAL EMOTIONAL LEARNING ACTIVITIES aPPLIED IN CLASS

Below you will find an example of how I wove together a series of Social Emotional Learning activities to address a specific type of friendship issue. This was not bullying-related issue, just misunderstandings. Students knew that, cognitively, but emotionally they were still stuck in old emotions. Here’s how I combined an Emotion Mat with Emotional Literacy education and a stress management technique called tapping to help them process these old emotions so that they could be OK.

Social Emotional Learning in school with qualified EFT Practitioner, Eleni Vardaki

MINDSET TRAINING AND ASSESSMENT FOR SOCIAL EMOTIONAL LEARNING

Finally, I’ve found that having a Fixed Mindset towards learning new information and developing new skills can hinder a child’s ability to develop more pro-social behavior. 

If you want to start teaching your students about the Growth Mindset, the following two resources are a great way of getting the process going. I often give the students I coach the video on what is a Growth Mindset as a homework task before we do Growth Mindset self-assessment activities. This was the format I also followed in my classroom teaching days with great results.

Now, you may find that just because you teach your students about the Growth Mindset and how important it is for being academically successful, doesn’t mean they actually have a Growth Mindset. One way of assessing how they are getting on in their mindset progress is the following activity (click on the image below to learn more).

Growth mindset training, staff INSET

I hope you found this article useful for your work. This gives you a taste of some of the ways I can train teachers and school psychologists/counselors. 

You can get in touch to book an introductory call if you’d like to talk about your specific staff training needs to see if I can help you.

MEET ELENI

Eleni Vardaki - educational articles and collaborations for individuals and schools

Eleni Vardaki (BA, PGCE, QTS, MEd) is an experienced secondary school teacher and EFT Tapping Coach who specializes in stress, anxiety, and academic success. She works with school and university level students who want her assistance on clearing their inner blocks to achieving their personal, career-related, or academic goals. She also leads online and in-person group sessions for staff, parent, and student well-being. Much of her experience as an Academic and EFT Coach is in working with IB Diploma students as well as undergraduate students who went to internationals schools that offered the DP program all over the world.