No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.
Prosocial behaviors are an integral part of humane education work because those behaviors are essential to how we treat ourselves, other people, other species, and the natural world. We can cultivate prosocial behaviors by effectively addressing core social and emotional learning (SEL) competencies.
The Collective for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) recognizes five core SEL competencies: Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, Relationship Skills, and Responsible Decision-Making. Each of these core competencies is divided into even more specific skills, which together provide a foundation on which people can stand to feel good about themselves, develop healthy relationships with others, and become involved with their larger community in a positive way.
SEL can inform our work in humane education by providing us with needed tools to create respectful, kind, and inclusive learning environments where youth can thrive. When we remember to focus on SEL skills, youth will more effectively learn about and discuss the topics that we want to cover. This approach can help us model the values that we encourage youth to embrace in how they treat people, animals, and the environment.
In partnership with the Peace Learning Center, we have provided some engaging strategies for addressing the SEL competencies and cultivating prosocial behavior. The strategy that we are highlighting as our feature download is called Community Circle (available in two versions for elementary and secondary age levels), which can be incorporated into a multi-session program that you run at your organization, an after-school program, or a summer camp. If you are a schoolteacher, you can include this strategy in your classroom throughout the entire school year.
Through discussion and participation in a role-play that involves investigating an animal neglect case, students will understand the importance of providing for an animal’s needs. (SEL: empathy and perspective-taking).
By comparing superheroes to humane heroes, youth learn that, while superheroes have fantastical powers, humane heroes are real people who utilize their talents and resources to make a positive difference. (SEL: responsible decision-making).
Students will develop the traits and skills to make a positive difference themselves by identifying a community need and working together to address it. (SEL: self-awareness, relationship skills, responsible decision-making).
HEART's mission is to develop a generation of compassionate youth who create positive change for animals, people, and the natural world. Learn More.
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