What is Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)
The peak international authority on SEL is the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning – or CASEL. They define SEL as,
“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.”
The 5 Core Competencies
In order to be socially, emotionally and academically successful. CASEL has identified 5 interrelated areas of competence, “that educate hearts, inspire minds, and help people navigate the world more effectively.” These include:
- Self awareness – The ability to accurately recognize one’s own emotions, thoughts, and values and how they influence behavior. The ability to accurately assess one’s strengths and limitations, with a well-grounded sense of confidence, optimism, and a “growth mindset.”
- Self management – The ability to successfully regulate one’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in different situations — effectively managing stress, controlling impulses, and motivating oneself. The ability to set and work toward personal and academic goals.
- Social awareness – The ability to take the perspective of and empathize with others, including those from diverse backgrounds and cultures. The ability 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. The ability to communicate clearly, listen well, cooperate with others, resist inappropriate social pressure, negotiate conflict constructively, and seek and offer help when needed.
- Responsible decision-making – The ability to make constructive choices about personal behavior and social interactions based on ethical standards, safety concerns, and social norms. The realistic evaluation of consequences of various actions, and a consideration of the well-being of oneself and others.
You might like to read more here CASEL Core Competencies
Why teaching SEL is a must in every home and classroom
Every child is on a long and winding journey towards adulthood. Some children will get there much faster and by using a much more direct route to success, happiness, thriving and flourishing than other children. Therefore, teaching every child these skills means that they are skills for life – in every sense of the meaning. While the goal of education is to develop the head through problem solving, information gathering bedded down in literacy and numeracy, the goal of SEL is to educate the child’s heart – a primer for life and for learning. 21st Century learning means focusing on the whole child, bringing the heart and head together for ultimate success and achievement.
The ongoing benefits of SEL
As identified by the extensive research by CASEL, the inclusion of a good, current and research-aligned SEL program has a positive impact on school climate and on academic, social, and emotional development of students. A meta-analysis by Durlak, Weissberg et al.’s of 213 rigorous studies of SEL in schools indicated that students receiving quality SEL instruction demonstrated:
- better academic performance: achievement scores an average of 11 percentile points higher than students who did not receive SEL instruction
- improved attitudes and behaviors: greater motivation to learn, deeper commitment to school, increased time devoted to schoolwork, and better classroom behavior
- fewer negative behaviors: decreased disruptive class behavior, noncompliance, aggression, delinquent acts, and disciplinary referrals
- reduced emotional distress: fewer reports of student depression, anxiety, stress, and social withdrawal.”(READ MORE HERE)
Well beyond the direct emotional and academic benefits to children, SEL is now accepted as a critical factor in economic outcomes on individual and societal levels. In the past, economic success and employability was highly correlated with increasing cognitive skills (intelligence). Recent research across many domains; economic, psychological, neuro-scientific and educational, identifies the need for equal focus and attention on the development of cognitive skills and the integral ‘soft skills’ of SEL. Through increasing social and emotional skills through the specific and explicit teaching of the ‘soft’ SEL skills throughout the school years, there is a direct effect on graduating students’ employability and earnings.