Philosophy and Social Emotional Learning


It’s a term that’s getting a lot of attention these days, and for good reason! More than ever, learning is becoming about more than just grades and academic achievement. Parents and teachers are striving to see wee learners as whole people, with a social life, family, growing bodies, and yes, even thoughts and feelings. Social emotional learning is all about helping a child to understand things like:

  • what an emotion is, and why we have them.
  • how we relate to and empathize with others.
  • how we make responsible choices, based on our feelings.

Developing these tools can, of course, really help a child function effectively at school, at home, online, and at play. But did you know that coming to grips with this part of our humanity can also make us better all-around thinkers? There are all kinds of intersections between social emotional learning and philosophical thinking. Both approaches encourage children to:

  • take a step back and examine what they feel, and why they feel it
  • disagree peacefully in times of conflict
  • explain their point of view clearly and respectfully
  • acknowledge their connection to and responsibility toward others
  • take on complex questions that don’t have just one answer
  • understand themselves both as individuals, and as part of a larger whole

In this sense, engaging in a philosophical conversation with your little thinker serves double-duty. It not only helps to build them up as a critical thinker, but also as a feeling, social being. What’s more, it empowers them to speak their own truth, and gives them the vocabulary to do so effectively.

As if you needed another reason to enjoy big questions with a kid. :-)