Social/Emotional Learning (SEL) is an approach to education that incorporates social, psychological and emotional components into school curriculum in order to improve the lives of students. It’s a concept that’s catching on in districts across the country due to the powerful effects its teachings have on student development. The modern world is a stressful one for young people in ways past generations didn’t have to navigate. SEL helps to provide them with the tools they need to manage the stressors of the world in which they live. Keep reading to learn more about this concept and its benefits.
About Social/Emotional Learning
CASEL, the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning defines SEL as, “social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.” This process is meant to improve students’ interpersonal, coping and problem-solving skills. It’s an approach that can be taught alongside academic curriculum and incorporated into a school’s cultural norms.
Categories of SEL
Social/emotional learning can be broken down into five categories. The first of these is self-awareness, which focuses on an understanding of how one’s emotions can translate into behaviors. Self-management is the second category. It goes even further than self-awareness and emphasizes the ability to regulate one’s feelings and behaviors in such as ways managing anger, motivating one’s self and dealing with stress. The third category is social awareness, which teaches students to understand others, along with their motivations and their differences. Category four involves relationship skills. It teaches healthy ways of creating and maintaining positive relationships with others. Skills such as conflict resolution, active listening, cooperation and communication are emphasized. Finally, the fifth category in SEL is responsible decision-making. This brings together all of the other sections in order to show ways of making choices that are in line with one’s values and morals. It encourages students to act in ways that benefit their own well-being and that of others.
Benefits of SEL
Because they spend so much of their time in school, it makes sense that educational professionals take time to teach social and emotional skills to students. In addition, the school environment offers a practical space to practice the skills such a curriculum teaches. Students encounter interactions each day that challenge them to react in ways that are healthy and that enhance personal growth. The information they learn in a social/emotional learning curriculum can help them successfully navigate these encounters.
Benefits of an SEL program include:
- Better academic performance
- Fewer conduct difficulties
- Positive social behavior
- Decreased substance abuse
- Reduced emotional distress
- Higher self-efficacy
- Increased emotional intelligence
Higher emotional intelligence can lead to a reduction of mental health issues and incarceration, as well. It can also make it more likely students will go on to achieve college graduation. SEL may also help to close the achievement gap among socio-economic groups. There are a number of reasons that social/emotional learning programs should be taught in schools.