How to Build SEL Skills Through Volunteering
What are SEL skills? Why do I need them? To find the answers, you’ve come to the right place because, in this incredibly useful article, I’ll be revealing everything you should know about SEL skills and how they can help us build our future.
What are SEL Skills?
First off, some people have problems with the word volunteer. If you happen to fall into one of those groups, replace the word volunteer with “pay-it-forward” or “giving back”. You’re welcome.
In terms of SEL (Social and Emotional Learning) Skills, it’s best to think of them as any character strengths you would want in a person. For example, grit could be considered an SEL skill. Determination is another example of an SEL skill.
Now, when it comes to character strengths, it can be difficult to work on building these SEL skills if you aren’t developing them in other areas of your life first.
How SEL Skills are taught in schools
SEL is most often taught in classrooms through a combination of direct instruction and small group activities. For example:
A teacher might start the day with a classroom discussion about how different emotions affect our behavior. Then, students would break into small groups where they could talk about situations that made them feel happy or angry or sad, what they did in those situations, and whether there were other things they could have done differently. After the small group activity, the class would come back together for a group discussion about what they learned from each other’s experiences.
Volunteering helps in developing SEL Skills
Volunteering is one of the most powerful ways to build Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) skills. SEL skills include self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship building, and responsible decision making. These skills are essential for success in school and beyond, but they can be difficult to teach.
Volunteering gives students authentic opportunities to learn and practice these skills while making a positive impact on their communities. It also provides a unique opportunity to practice social-emotional skills.
Adults can also benefit from SEL Skills
These skills aren’t just helpful for kids — they’re important for adults too. For example, who do you think is more likely to get fired at work — someone who is easily stressed out or someone who is able to manage their stress? Which person seems like they’d be better at handling stressful situations? Someone with good self-esteem or someone with low self-esteem?
2 simple ways to build SEL Skills through volunteering
Here are some great ways to build those SEL (social and emotional learning) skills while volunteering:
Working in groups toward a common purpose — People with strong SEL skills know how to work effectively with others. They recognize that people have different needs, motivations, and perspectives and can contribute in different ways. This is something volunteers learn very quickly. No matter how good an individual volunteer may be at a particular task, he or she is not going to achieve much without working well with others
Communicating effectively — Volunteers learn that face-to-face communication is often the best way to get things done, especially when conflict or other issues arise. They also learn how important it is to listen carefully and respond appropriately
When we were kids, most of us were taught how to listen. Or maybe we heard the phrase, “Whoever listens to me will never be lost,” repeated over and over (thanks, Mom). But after years of sitting in classrooms or church pews or waiting rooms, we’ve kind of become desensitized to listening. We think it’s easy. We’re multitasking while someone is talking at us, because who has the patience anymore? But one thing that many of us don’t think much about — at least until it’s missing — is how much listening shapes us as people and how important it is for jobs and life.
Sign up as a volunteer or reach out to volunteers through 1Hour. Develop, learn, and make a change — just an hour at a time.