Social-emotional learning is a crucial part of development and has a profound impact on other areas of a child’s development, their wellbeing and mental health. Developing emotional intelligence allows kids to recognise, express and manage their emotions and building social skills allows kids to interact, form positive relationships, work with others, and show understanding and empathy.
We cannot avoid or deny the fact kids of today are growing up in a digital world. So where possible, it makes sense to take advantage of technological advances and use your child’s interest in screen-play to support development! Below we’ve listed 6 of our favourite apps to help children’s social-emotional learning, give them a try – we hope you find them helpful!
1 – Smiling Mind
Smiling Mind is a free, guided meditation app co-developed with psychologists and health professionals. It’s accessible to everyone and aims to put a smile on the user’s mind anytime and anywhere!
This app features meditation programs specifically designed for kids to support them at each stage of their development. With separate programs targeting kids aged 7-9, 10-12 and for teenagers 13-15 and 16-18, the program helps younger children becoming more independent, and older children learning to take on leadership roles, transition to high school, make new friends and plan for the future.
They’ve also created Smiling Mind Education Programs, based on curriculum and designed to support educators bring mindfulness to school. A study in 2015 of 1852 Victorian school students found student sleep, wellbeing, ability to manage emotions, concentration and school behaviour significantly improved from participating in the program!
2 – The Bears
Is your little one having trouble finding the words to explain their feelings? Or do you find it difficult to start a conversation about emotions? The Bears App can help!
This app lets you search, select and share cute cartoon bear characters to match every mood! The set can help your little one express feelings of happiness, sadness, pride, grumpiness and many, many more! Kids easily identify with the bear cartoons, so they offer a simple, non-threatening way for little ones to express how they’re feeling or how something is making them feel with little explanation required!
Brought to you by Sesame Street, the Breathe, Think, Do with Sesame App was designed to help parents teach kids skills such as problem solving, self-control, planning, and task persistence.
The app will make sure you’re both laughing while learning as you help the friendly monster calm down and solve everyday challenges with the three-step strategy – breathe, think, do!
It’s aimed at kids aged 2-5 and includes a range of activities such as: tapping bubbles to help the monster breathe and regulate emotions, creating encouraging phrases children hear as they help the monster create a plan and problem solve, and breathing along with the monster to help kids practise deep breathing to calm down!
The silly animations and playful interactions help keep little ones engaged as they learn emotional vocabulary, relaxation techniques and build resilience for the future!
The Social Express app helps equip children with the skills necessary for social interactions – breaking down every skill into small pieces. The app includes high-quality, engaging ‘webisodes’ that teach foundational skills for social and emotional learning, for kids in pre-school through to high school.
The team at Social Express acknowledge how important interactive learning is, so the lessons require kids to help the characters in the videos resolve social situations at various locations. Kids select a thought bubble at key ‘decision points’ in the video to choose what action the character takes which they can transfer to real life!
The program allows kids to practise solving social problems in a safe environment and keep them on track to developing meaningful relationships and successfully navigating the social world.
The Model Me Going Places 2 App helps children (aged 2-8) learn to navigate challenging locations in the community by viewing photos of other children modelling appropriate social behaviours in various places!
Kids can scroll through a slideshow of photos of similar aged-peers attending a hairdresser, shopping centre, doctor, playground, grocery store, and restaurant. The photo slideshows include audio and written descriptions and not only allows children to see how to act in these situations, but also familiarises them with situations that can be difficult or scary in real life.
Kids can create their very own force field of clam with this app! It’s designed to make meditation and mindfulness fun and easy for kids aged 5-10 and includes mindful activities for every situation, video animations, fun emojis to represent feelings and stickers to reward progress.
The app also includes specific ‘mindful missions’ to help kids with things like sleep, over-excitement, stress and worry, disappointment and sadness, and caring and connecting. It’s a great way for kids to connect with, recognise and process their emotions, and why not use it as a way for you, as a parent or caregiver, to spend quality time with your little one?