Importance of SEL in Special Needs Education

Over the last year, all students felt the impact on their learning, but vulnerable students have been particularly affected.

At this stage, for educators, it is natural to worry about how to help SEN students improve their school performance. However, this year we also need to think about how having a learning challenge and COVID crisis have affected vulnerable children emotionally.

Not all children with learning difficulties become frustrated, sad, or anxious, but it is common for our vulnerable students to go through at least some period of emotional struggle. It is not easy for children when they see themselves falling behind their peers at school. Even if they pretend that they do not notice or care, struggling in school can be a demoralizing experience. Lowered self-esteem, increased anxiety, particularly in academic situations, Increased sadness, or irritability, acting out, physical symptoms like headaches or stomach aches, reduced motivation are common amongst SEN students.

Under our current circumstances strengthening emotional skills and finding strategies that play to our student's strengths is essential. The best way to help special education students is to integrate a strong emphasis on social-emotional learning school-wide.

Students with the lowest levels of social-emotional competence make the most significant gains when exposed to a school-wide approach. Effective school-wide social-emotional learning enhances the functioning of typically developing students and provides the context to increase the intensity, duration, and generalization of social-emotional skills for students with special needs.

When all students learn about skills like identifying their emotions, perspective taking, responsibility and their role in the larger community, then students with significant needs in this area are much more likely to internalize these skills. While this focus on wellbeing is critical, it is also vital that SEL is not just a band-aid; instead, SEL offers an ideal means for engaging in the more profound inner work necessary to strengthen our student's emotional competencies.

Transformative SEL engages learners and adults in effective relationships that facilitate co-learning to develop collaborative solutions for personal, community, and societal wellbeing.

Attend my talk in GESS Dubai 2021, where I will share resources and strategies to support educators in meeting SEN students’ needs, as students return to school this year after learning slide and facing trauma due to learning disruptions. Through my talk, my goal is to help vulnerable students to builds confidence, motivation, improved academic performance at school, better emotional wellbeing, and student behavior.

Hear Massrat speak at GESS Dubai 2021 (14 - 16 November), register for free.