On the other hand, when we are feeling negative and stressed out, these executive functions, which provide

cognitive control, are inhibited or stopped and the information stays at the amygdala. It does not flow into the 

prefrontal cortex for executive processing. Instead, it is processed right on the spot as the flight, flight or freeze.

In this way, fear and anxiety effectively shut down higher order thinking.

This is why social emotional learning is so important!

The ability to manage one's emotions is a necessary skill that not only play's an integral role in academics,

but most importantly overall happiness and well being. 

"Adele Diamond, a neuroscientist and founder of developmental cognitive neuroscience, found that students who learn

social emotional learning techniques consistanly score higher on tests because it requires the use of the brains's

executive functions, such as coordination and controlling, monitoring, troubleshooting, reasoning and imagining

(2007). Furthermore, Adele Diamond's research findings simply indicate that the "happy brain" works better. When we

are happy and engaged in activities that we find pleasurable, our brain is flushed with dopamine, a neurotransmitter

that also helps filter and increase higher level thinking in the prefrontal cortex. Dopamine helps get our brains ready for

peak performance. The dopamine pleasure surge is highest  when students are fully engaged with their learning and

brimming with positive feelings such as optimism, gratitude, hope, and an overall sense of well being. Classroom

activities that give rise to pleasure surge and prompt the release of dopamine include:  

  • participation in acts of kindness
  • collaborating with peers
  • making choices and solving problems
  • engaging in physical activiteies such as sport dance and play
  • enjoying creative efforts and disciplines such as music art, drama reading and storytelling

Of course, dopamine is also released when people indulge in high risk activities such as drug and alcohol abuse,

promiscuity, fast driving and overeating. However, when kids get their pleasure sure from activities that generate

positive feeling overall, they are less likely to seek it in high-risk activities that also promote dopamine release

(Galvan, et al., 2006; Kann et al, 2006)." 

-MindUp Curriculum

The Importance of  Social Emotional Learning

MindfulNEST Center

a mindful approach to childcare

Do you ever wonder why high-pressure situations make us "loose our cool"? 

An accelerated heartbeat and butterflies in the stomach seem to happen no matter how well prepared we are!

The Human brain is wired up to respond to stress as if  something were immediatley theatening, often placing us

at the mercy of our physical and emotional responses. Yet, we can actually train our brains to respond 

reflectively. The brain's response to stress is linked to the amygdala, a small almond shaped clump of neurons 

deep in the center of our brain. When we are calm and peaceful, the filter is wide open and information flows to 

the prefrontal cortex, where the brain's so called executive functions take place.