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The Journals are the premier publications for high-quality, hyperlocal news and advertising in Monmouth County, New Jersey

Apr 17, 2021

Happiness Plays Crucial Role in Educational Success

It’s no surprise that happiness has a direct correlation with student success. Educators have long maintained that a robust Social Emotional Learning (SEL) program helps children to understand and manage emotions while equipping them to be more confident, responsible decision-makers, and effective goal setters.

These significant benefits have taken on even more importance over the past year, as children continue to grapple with major changes – both at home and at school – wrought by the global pandemic. 

“Many people are surprised to learn that the most significant predictor of future success is happiness,” said Cara Horner, Social Emotional Learning specialist and director of the Advisory Program at The Rumson Country Day School (RCDS). “Teaching students to understand and express their emotions and develop empathy sets the foundation to build the skills that are critical to success in school and later, in adult life.”

At RCDS, students have attended school in person, with only brief shifts to online learning, during the current school year. While students have adjusted well to following COVID-19 safety precautions such as masking and social distancing, the pandemic has the potential to present anxiety due to changes at school or home. 

“Now, more than ever, it’s important to affirm the validity of children’s feelings and encourage them to find healthy ways to express themselves,” Horner added.

RCDS’s robust SEL curriculum is embedded in every grade. Class time often starts with an emotional check-in or morning meeting, followed by advisory meetings in Upper School, and many teacher-guided activities throughout the school day that spark exploration and joy in learning, while cultivating skills like planning, organization, time management, task Initiation, self-control, flexibility, and perseverance. 

“It’s so important to begin this process when students are young. By the time they reach adolescence, the challenges may be quite different for each individual, but the tools required to navigate successfully are the same. That’s why it’s critical for kids to develop skills of self-reflection, emotional regulation and empathy before their personalities and habits are cemented,” said Horner. 

To learn more about Social Emotional Learning, including activities parents can do at home with their children, download The Rumson Country Day School’s free e-book, The Happiness Factor: A Parent’s Guide to Social Emotional Learning at RCDS.org.