What is SEL?

Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.

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CASEL’s Widely Used Framework Identifies Five Core Competencies

Self-awareness: The ability to accurately recognize one’s emotions and thoughts and their influence on behavior. This includes accurately assessing one’s strengths and limitations and possessing a well-grounded sense of confidence and optimism.

Self-management: The ability to regulate one’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors effectively in different situations. This includes managing stress, controlling impulses, motivating oneself, and setting and working toward achieving personal and academic goals.

Social awareness: The ability to take the perspective of and empathize with others from diverse backgrounds and cultures, to understand social and ethical norms for behavior, and to recognize family, school, and community resources and supports.

Relationship skills: The ability to establish and maintain healthy and rewarding relationships with diverse individuals and groups. This includes communicating clearly, listening actively, cooperating, resisting inappropriate social pressure, negotiating conflict constructively, and seeking and offering help when needed.

Responsible decision-making: The ability to make constructive and respectful choices about personal behavior and social interactions based on consideration of ethical standards, safety concerns, social norms, the realistic evaluation of consequences of various actions, and the well-being of self and others.

Systemic Social and Emotional Learning

SEL can be more than just a 30-minute lesson. A systemic approach to SEL intentionally cultivates a caring, participatory, and equitable learning environment and evidence-based practices that actively involve all students in their social, emotional, and academic growth. This approach infuses social and emotional learning into every part of students’ daily lives—across all of their classrooms, during all times of the school day, and when they are in their homes and communities.

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Creating Environments for Learning

SEL is a deeply ingrained part of the way students and adults interact both in the classroom and out of it, and helps provide children with equitable, supportive, and welcoming learning environments.

SEL Works

More than two decades of research shows that SEL leads to:

  • image Increased Academic Achievement

    According to a 2011 meta-analysis of 213 studies involving more than 270,000 students, those who participated in evidence-based SEL programs showed an 11% point gain in academic achievement.

  • image Improved Behavior

    Studies show decreased dropout rates, school and classroom behavior issues, drug use, teen pregnancy, mental health problems, and criminal behavior.

  • image Strong Return on Investment

    A review of six SEL interventions in evidence-based SEL programs showed that for every dollar invested there was an economic return of 11 dollars.

For more on the benefits of SEL

See SEL Impact

Learn more about SEL

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