Rutgers psychology expert Maurice Elias is available to discuss how parents and educators can implement social and emotional learning (SEL) at home.

SEL helps children acquire and apply the knowledge, attitudes and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships and make responsible decisions.

“Emotions are an incredibly powerful influence on all children and learning,” said Elias, a psychology professor at the School of Arts and Sciences and director of the Social-Emotional and Character Development Lab. “Teachers and parents can still provide opportunities for their children and students even at home. Allow time for children to express feelings about what is happening now. Many (SEL) programs suggest beginning the day with a morning meeting or sharing circle or other form of reflection in which students share with their classmates, teacher or parents some of their feelings as the day begins.  

“We know children miss their school, classmates, teachers and other staff members,” he continued. “Ask questions like: Who is someone from school you were thinking about yesterday or today? What feeling do you have when you are thinking about that person? This can be done verbally over video, by having students write their answer in a chat box or even asking them to select an emoji to portray what they are feeling. Most children are aware of what is happening in the media. These feelings will weigh on them during their learning situations, and so providing opportunities for reflection, for expression in art or language arts, for understanding the disease scientifically or for studying pandemics historically will help them feel more control. If you are a parent, encourage your child to express what they are feeling. In addition, incorporate brief mindfulness practices into learning situations -- at least at the beginning, middle and end of the day.”

Elias is an expert in social-emotional and character development, emotional intelligence, social competence promotion, character education, primary prevention, school-based, evidence-based intervention and socialization of identity and youth purpose.


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