Teaching Decision Making Skills to Elementary Students in 2024

If you are an elementary teacher looking to learn how to help your students make good choices independently, then you found the right place! Teaching decision making skills prepare kids to make good choices that are safe and effective. Students who are able to make good choices are more independent than students who cannot. In this post, we’ll go into detail about what decision making is and why it’s important. In addition, we’ll share tips and ideas for how to teach decision making skills in an elementary classroom setting. Read all about helping students make good choices in and out of the classroom by teaching them decision making skills below!

making good choices coloring page, acrostic poem and choice board

What Does Decisions Making Skills Mean?

Decision Making Skills means developing skills and thought processes for making good choices both in the classroom and outside the classroom. By teaching students decision making skills you are teaching them how to make choices that are safe, fair and reasonable. 

making good choices parent letter, word search, and writing activity

Why is it Important for Kids to Learn Decision Making Skills?

It is important for kids to learn decision make skills because it gives them a toolkit to make good choices. When students learn decision making skills they are equipped to make the best choice when presented with different options. They are also able to manage their behavior by making good choices with their behavior. 

making good choices vocabulary cards

How Do I Know If I Need to Teach Decision Making in My Classroom?

The students in your 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th grade classroom would benefit from decision making lessons and activities if any of these statements are true:

  • Students aren’t making good choices.
  • Students are struggling to make choices independently.
  • They are being influenced by their peers.
  • Students are having a hard time regulating their behavior.
  • Students are being unsafe or unkind.
making good choices coloring page activity, discussion prompt cards, and acrostic poem

5 Reasons To Promote Making Good Choices In Your Elementary Classroom

Below are 5 reasons to promote decision making in your elementary classroom.

1. It Fosters Independence

Teaching decision making skills fosters independence in students. It gives them the tools to make decisions on their own that are safe and effective. Having decision making skills allows students to make decisions on their own without the help from a teacher. 

2. Decision Making Skills Are An SEL Competency 

Decision making skills are one of the essential skills for all students to learn according to CASEL, the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning, who are the leaders in social emotional learning. This means that making good choices is valued at an extremely high level and that it’s importance stays with students year after year. 

making good choices discussion prompt cards, word search, and writing activities

3. Prepares Students for Many Situations

Equipping students with the skills for making good choices prepares them for a wide variety of situations. Students will be able to combine their past decisions with current or upcoming situations to make good choices. Students will be able to use their decision making toolkit to make responsible choices no matter what they are facing. 

4. Promotes Being Reflective

Making good choices promotes students reflecting on the choices that they made. In order to determine if they made a good choice or not, students have to look at the choice they made, what happened because of that choice, and if they would make the same decision again. This creates very reflective and insightful students. 

5. Promotes Self Regulation

Decision making skills promote self regulation and self management. Students will be learning how to make good choices in all areas, including making good choices with their bodies. This decision making will help them practice regulating their emotions and bodies and reflecting on whether they made safe choices with their bodies. 

making good choices flip book and writing activities

5 Tips and Ideas for Teaching Decisions Making

1. Read Aloud Picture Books about Making Good Choices

Picture books are a great way to introduce and teach an SEL topic. It gets students thinking about the topic and activating their background knowledge. Check out this list of picture books for teaching choices!

2. Watch Videos about Making Good Choices

There are tons of free online videos out there that promote social emotional learning. It’s a fun and engaging way to teach SEL skills that your students will enjoy. Check out these videos for teaching making good choices!

making good choices scenario cards
making good choices scenario cards

Vocabulary words can help students develop understanding of decision making and create connections through related words. Our Choices SEL unit includes ten vocabulary cards with words related to the SEL topic. It is important for students to be able to see, hear, and use relevant vocabulary while learning. One idea for how to use them is to create an SEL word wall as students learn the words.

4. Provide Practice Opportunities

When learning any skill, students need time to practice. Social emotional learning skills are no different! Our Choices SEL unit includes scenario cards, discussion cards, choice boards, games, and much more. These provide students with opportunities to practice the skills independently, with partners or small groups, or as a whole class.

5. Integrate Other Content Areas

Integrating other content areas with this topic is a great way to approach this SEL topic. Our Choices SEL unit includes reading, writing, and art activities.

making good choices coloring activity, vocabulary cards, writing activity, and word search
making good choices flip book and writing activities

Skills Related to Making Choices

When discussing the social emotional learning (SEL) or character education topic of making good choices, there are several other words and phrases that convey a similar meaning. These alternative terms emphasize the process of decision-making and selecting the most appropriate or beneficial option. Here are some words used in the context of making good choices:

  1. Decision-making: The process of considering alternatives and selecting the best course of action.
  2. Making informed decisions: Gathering information, evaluating options, and choosing wisely based on available knowledge.
  3. Selecting: Choosing or picking the most suitable option from a range of alternatives.
  4. Judgment: Exercising sound reasoning and discernment to make wise choices.
  5. Opting: Deciding or selecting a particular course of action.
  6. Picking: Choosing or selecting one option over others.
  7. Choosing thoughtfully: Engaging in a deliberate and mindful process to make decisions.
  8. Exercising discretion: Applying good judgment and caution when making choices.
  9. Weighing options: Considering different factors and evaluating the pros and cons before deciding.
  10. Taking responsibility for decisions: Acknowledging and accepting the consequences of one’s choices.

These words and phrases convey the concept of making thoughtful and responsible decisions within the context of social emotional learning (SEL) or character education.

making good choices self-portrait activity and acrostic poem
making good choices vocabulary cards and self-portrait activity

Download the SEL Activities

Click an image below to either get this individual choices unit or get ALL 30 SEL units!

Choices SEL Unit Social Emotional Learning Units Bundle
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In closing, we hope you found this information about teaching decision making skills helpful! If you did, then you may also be interested in these posts.

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