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The Best Times of Day to Teach SEL

January 18, 2023
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Odds are you’ve heard the buzz around SEL if you’re an educator. And while there’s no denying the importance of teaching SEL and its significant impacts on students’ academic success and well-being, that doesn’t mean it is easy to teach or implement. According to Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), a school’s SEL implementation plan should include explicit SEL instruction in order to make the greatest impact.

So how can you make sure you’re putting your students’ social-emotional needs first without taking time away from other academic blocks and demands? Let’s take a look at some strategies for implementing SEL and suggestions for how to fit SEL into your day.

Build SEL into Your Routine 

When it comes to finding the best time to teach SEL, pick a time that you know will be consistent. Look holistically at your schedule and find transitions or buffer times that have the most wiggle room.

Make sure to stay away from building SEL instruction into challenging transitions where it is likely to get dropped and be committed to establishing a consistent schedule and routine around SEL instruction.

Routines create an effective learning environment by reducing the number of stimuli to the brain. This helps students to have longer attention spans during lessons. Just like it takes consistency to build healthy habits in your personal life, the same goes for SEL.

Morning Meeting

One of the most common and successful ways to implement SEL into your day is by building it into your morning meeting. When you teach SEL at the beginning of the school day, you are starting your students off on a positive note and providing them with important strategies and skills they’ll need to successfully navigate the rest of the day.

It also allows you to reference these lessons throughout the day to further embed SEL instruction in other academic areas. Working on a tough math concept with your students in the afternoon? Remind them about their morning meeting lesson on growth mindset and bridge that real world application and connection.

After Recess

Transitions are tough but can be easier when you provide students with the strategies they need to regulate and the ability to recognize when to use these strategies…like after recess!

Teaching SEL right when your students return from recess helps them notice how they are feeling in real time, provides a necessary sense of calm, and is a productive way to set the tone for the rest of the school day.

Closing Out the Day

As the school day wraps up, add SEL to your end-of-day routine. Help your students reflect on their social and emotional skills from the day and discuss strategies they can use tomorrow.

Adding SEL at the end of the day is also a great way to create a connection between school and home, helping students see ways to extend SEL skills to their home life so that they realize SEL is not just for school. 

When we make SEL a priority in our school day, we are showing students that these skills matter and are important. Making SEL a consistent part of your day and building it into your teaching routine will help your students not only succeed in learning these skills but will support their well-being and success well into the future.

Searching for an SEL curriculum? Check out our brand new PreK-5th grade SEL curriculum by signing up for a free 30-day trial or visiting our SEL Buyer’s Guide and SEL Curriculum Samples page!

Related Blog Posts:

How do Everyday Speech Resources Support Social-Emotional Learning?

How to Teach SEL as a General Education Teacher

How to Cultivate an SEL Community at Your School


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