Social connection is essential to our physical and mental health and wellbeing. A feeling of closeness to others has been found to increase longevity and strengthen the immune system, while a lack of social connection has been found to be more harmful to our health than high blood pressure, smoking, or obesity. Social connection is also essential to learning, as a student’s sense of social connection strongly impacts the command centre of the brain, known as executive function. Executive function affects a student’s ability to plan and manage their time, to pay attention and to transfer their learning to new contexts.
While social connection was once thought to be incidental to learning, there is a growing body of evidence to demonstrate the profound relationship between emotion and cognition in the brain. It is increasingly evident from neuroscientific research that a sense of belonging has a profound effect on the knowledge and skills that students can learn, remember and apply.
There are a number of ways that schools and teachers can prioritise and support the social connectedness of students. At the school level, leadership can ensure that policies to protect against discrimination and bullying are in place, while providing positive opportunities such as mentorship and service learning programmes to help create and build social connections. In the classroom, teachers can prioritise strong, trusting relationships with and among students, explicitly teach conflict management and perspective-taking, and advocate for their students.
Claire Chuter, from John Hopkins University in the USA explores the different mindsets, skills and competencies SEL incorporates, why it is important, and how it can be integrated into teaching and learning.
"Information like this is worth its weight in gold – thanks for everything you're doing!"
Key insights from Claire Chuter on how to support and promote students’ social emotional learning.
The Education Hub's mission is to bridge the gap between research and practice in education. We want to empower educators to find, use and share research to improve their teaching practice, and then share their innovations. We are building the online and offline infrastructure to support this to improve opportunities and outcomes for students.
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