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Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) and Physical Education

A child throws a frisbee.The combination of physical education and social and emotional learning (SEL) provides great benefits to students. In addition to teaching students the core concepts of SEL, it also encourages them to spend more hours enjoying sports and an active lifestyle.

The lack of activity in many children is a concern for educators and parents, alike. Tweens now spend an average of four hours and 44 minutes each day on screen, according to research from the Common Sense Census. For teens, that time is an astonishing seven hours and 22 minutes.

SEL is perhaps most associated with anti-bullying campaigns in school. However, at its core, SEL helps students manage and channel thoughts, emotions and actions in ways that lead to successful outcomes for themselves and their relationships. That approach applies to sports and physical education as well.

The Fresno Pacific University Social and Emotional Learning Through Sports and Physical Education professional development course helps teachers and coaches teach SEL concepts to promote a healthy, active lifestyle among their students and players.

The Importance of SEL in Education

The Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) breaks SEL down into five core competencies. They include self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.

These non-academic skills are essential for success in school and beyond. They’ve become a core part of what educators try to teach students. Fresno Pacific University offers professional development courses and a learning certificate in SEL for just this reason.

These skills also apply to physical activities. The SHAPE America's National Standards & Grade-Level Outcomes for K-12 Physical Education include standards that tie into SEL. They include:

  • Demonstrating the knowledge and skills to achieve and maintain a health-enhancing level of physical activity and fitness
  • Exhibiting responsible personal and social behavior that respects self and others
  • Recognizing the value of physical activity for health, enjoyment, challenge, self-expression and/or social interaction

The Fresno Pacific University course in SEL and physical education focuses on tying SEL into helping students meet these standards.

The Fresno Pacific Course on SEL and Physical Education

Fresno Pacific designed the Social Emotional Learning Through Sport and Physical Education course to teach educators about the theories behind SEL and physical education, as well as practical ways of applying them in building positive learning environments, teaching students valuable life skills and inspiring them to live active, healthy lives.

The course, which teachers can take to earn professional development credit, is taught by Bill Cockerham, Ed.D, who has more than 50 years of experience in what he calls “learning and teaching fun.”  The focus of the course is to provide teachers with ideas they can put into play that encourages physical activity and help students build SEL skills for life-long success.

This includes giving educators methods for teaching students how to develop a growth mindset and the ability to focus, as well as ways to regulate emotions, set goals and understand the importance of preparation and practice.

Teachers will learn to apply SEL when developing motivational, character-building activities for students and when creating outdoor collaborative team-building challenges.

SEL provides students a more well-rounded education that takes them beyond academics and into learning skills that can help them throughout life. For teachers and coaches who want to provide the best for their students, combining SEL and physical education can help them achieve that goal.