Newtown Bwabwa Academy

Elevating Social-Emotional Learning with Stiltwalking: A Creative Integration of CASEL


Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) is a crucial component of education, as it equips students with the skills they need to succeed not only academically but also in their personal and professional lives. The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) has provided a framework that emphasizes the development of five core competencies: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. While these competencies are typically associated with traditional classroom activities, the world of stiltwalking offers a unique and engaging way to integrate these skills. In this blog, we will explore how the art of stiltwalking can enhance CASEL's framework and promote social-emotional learning.

Self-Awareness on Stilts

Stiltwalking begins with self-awareness. When students put on stilts, they immediately become conscious of their bodies and balance. This heightened awareness of their physical selves is a foundation for building self-awareness, a core competency in the CASEL framework. As students learn to control their balance on stilts, they also develop a greater understanding of their limitations and capabilities.

Stiltwalking encourages students to acknowledge their fears and anxieties. The process of conquering the initial fear of falling and then mastering the art of staying upright promotes self-confidence and self-efficacy, both integral aspects of self-awareness. Students learn that self-awareness is not static; it can be developed and enhanced through practice and perseverance.

Self-Management and Emotional Regulation

Stiltwalking is an excellent medium for teaching self-management and emotional regulation. Students must maintain their composure and manage their emotions while walking on stilts. Balancing on two long poles can be challenging, and it's common for students to experience frustration and anxiety.

To succeed, they must learn to control their emotions, breathe deeply, and focus on the task at hand. These skills are essential in real-life situations, whether it's handling stress in a job interview or addressing conflict in personal relationships. By incorporating stiltwalking into SEL programs, educators can provide students with a fun and memorable way to practice emotional regulation.

Social Awareness and Empathy

Stiltwalking can also enhance social awareness and empathy. When students engage in this activity, they often work in pairs or small groups, supporting and encouraging each other. They learn to be aware of the needs and feelings of their peers and develop empathy by helping their friends when they struggle.

Additionally, stiltwalkers often perform in public spaces, attracting attention from onlookers. This provides an opportunity for students to observe the reactions of others and consider how their actions impact those around them. This awareness of the social environment is a key element of social awareness in the CASEL framework.

Relationship Skills and Teamwork

Stiltwalking fosters the development of relationship skills and teamwork. Working with others to ensure everyone's safety and success on stilts requires effective communication, cooperation, and trust. Students quickly realize the importance of supporting each other to prevent falls and accidents.

This experience translates directly into the development of relationship skills, teaching students how to collaborate, resolve conflicts, and build positive relationships with their peers. Whether it's a group stiltwalking performance or a simple exercise in balance, students learn the value of teamwork and the benefits of strong interpersonal skills.

Responsible Decision-Making

Lastly, stiltwalking can teach responsible decision-making. Students must make choices about their safety, including when to attempt more challenging stiltwalking maneuvers and when to recognize their limits. They learn to assess risks, weigh the consequences of their actions, and make decisions accordingly.

This experience of making responsible decisions in a controlled environment translates to real-life situations where students must consider the outcomes of their choices and their potential impact on themselves and others. Stiltwalking can serve as a tangible metaphor for the decision-making process, reinforcing this aspect of the CASEL framework.


Integrating the art of stiltwalking into Social-Emotional Learning programs is a creative and effective way to develop CASEL's core competencies. Stiltwalking not only engages students in a fun and memorable activity but also offers practical experiences that promote self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.

By incorporating stiltwalking into education, we can help students develop a deeper understanding of themselves and their peers, cultivate essential social and emotional skills, and equip them with tools for success in both their academic and personal lives. Stiltwalking isn't just about reaching great heights physically; it's about reaching greater heights in social and emotional development.

Leave a Reply