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Why you need SEL activities for your high school students

Kimber PierichFebruary 15, 2023

Why you need SEL activities for your high school students

As a teacher, one of your most important jobs is to help students learn to develop the skills they need for success in life. Students who are able to persevere when they encounter difficulties, make good decisions, and understand how their actions affect others have an advantage over those who don’t have these skills. Social-emotional learning (SEL) activities provide excellent opportunities for students to practice these life skills so they can be successful at home, school, and beyond!

SEL activities build students’ self-confidence

Self-confidence is a key ingredient in success. Research shows that students with low self-esteem are more likely to struggle academically, perform poorly on tests, and be less engaged in school. In fact, it’s estimated that as many as 80% of high school students suffer from some form of self-doubt or low self-confidence.

When you provide students with opportunities to experience success and develop their skills through SEL activities, they can start building the confidence they need to succeed in school and beyond. For example:

  • Role playing encourages kids to step outside their comfort zones by trying new things (e.g., going on an interview) or being someone else entirely (e.g., pretending they’re a famous celebrity). These activities help kids learn how to take risks without getting overwhelmed by failure — and if the activity does result in failure, then it will serve as an informative learning experience.
  • Students who participate in group projects learn how to manage responsibility for others while also receiving feedback about their own contributions. This guides them toward the collective goal of completing something significant together as a group.

SEL activities help students develop mindfulness

Mindfulness is the ability to be aware of your thoughts, feelings and actions in the present moment. It helps you focus on what’s happening right now in front of you and not let your mind wander off into the future or past.

When a student has a higher level of mindfulness, they are better able to manage their stress levels by being more focused on the task at hand. This can also lead to improved self-awareness as a student begins to recognize how emotions affect them throughout any given situation.

Mindfulness can also help students develop empathy — the ability to understand another person’s feelings and perspective on things — which will be crucial for them as they go through life!

SEL activities enhance students’ social awareness

SEL activities are a great way to help students understand and appreciate the feelings of others. By learning to empathize with other people, they can gain insight into what motivates them and what their experiences have been like. This helps students recognize their own biases, which makes them more tolerant of those who have different backgrounds or beliefs.

SEL activities improve student decision-making and problem-solving skills

SEL activities also improve student decision-making and problem-solving skills. Good decision-making helps students manage their time and prioritize their work. This is especially important as they enter the world of college or the workforce, where they will need to be able to decide how to use their time wisely in order to get things done.

Problem-solving skills are also important for students, because they help them learn from mistakes or challenges that arise during class projects or exams. If a student has good problem-solving skills, he or she will be able to analyze a situation and determine what went wrong so that it doesn’t happen again in the future!

SEL activities create more empathetic learners

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. For many students, empathy can be a challenging skill to develop. However, research shows that developing emotional intelligence (EI) skills, including empathy in particular, benefits students socially and emotionally.

  • Empathy helps students understand others’ perspectives. When you’re able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and see things from their point of view, it will help you make better decisions about how you should act toward them or how they might feel about what happened in a situation. This is particularly important for teens who are transitioning into adulthood and may not have had much experience negotiating social situations yet. Having an understanding of how others perceive your actions can help reduce conflict between friends or peers when there seems like there’s no way out but through each other — and that means less drama at school!
  • Empathy decreases isolation among teens suffering from mental health issues such as depression or anxiety by providing them with an outlet through which they can discuss their struggles with someone who understands what they’re going through.

SEL activities promote better physical health for all learners

One of the most important aspects of learning is to be physically healthy. When you’re healthy, you can focus on school more easily and retain information better. A good way to promote physical health is through SEL activities. Here are some examples:

  • Yoga
  • Sports leagues (which may also help promote social skills)
  • Gardening clubs or urban farming programs

There are many reasons why you should integrate social emotional learning activities into your curriculum

Social emotional learning (SEL) is the process of using education to develop and enhance a student’s social and emotional skills. SEL activities teach students how to be self-aware, empathetic, make good decisions, solve problems, and be physically healthy. By incorporating these skills into your classroom curriculum you can help your students learn how to build strong relationships with others both within the classroom and beyond it.

The benefits of integrating SEL into your high school curriculum include:

  • Students will be able to better understand themselves and their emotions, which will result in better self-care practices such as sleeping enough or eating healthily.
  • Students will have more empathy, which helps them avoid acting aggressively towards others when they feel frustrated or upset about something that has happened at school or at home.
  • Students who are able to manage their emotions while solving problems will be able to solve them more effectively than those who do not have this skill. They allow themselves time for de-escalation before diving head first into solving things!


If you’re still unsure about whether or not SEL activities are a good fit for your classroom, we encourage you to try them out! These activities will help your students build better emotional intelligence, which can make them more successful students in the future.

Photo credit: Google Edu

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