What is Social and Emotional Learning?
Social and emotional learning (SEL) involves the processes through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills in five areas: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.
What skills are taught in SEL?
Self-awareness – identifying emotions, accurate self-perception, recognizing strengths, sense of self-confidence, self-efficacy
Self-management – impulse control, stress management, self-discipline, self-motivation, goal setting, organizational skills, resilience
Social awareness – perspective-taking, empathy, reflective listening, cultural competence, recognizing resources, understanding strengths
Relationship skills – communication, social engagement, building relationships, working cooperatively, resolving conflicts, helping and seeking help
Responsible decision-making – problem identification, situation analysis, problem solving, evaluation, reflection, personal responsibility
Lessons are developmentally appropriate and the curriculum spirals through the grade levels. While the lessons are basic in early grades, they move on to tackle tough issues that students face today, including cyber-bullying, dating violence, decisions about alcohol and drugs, and setting goals for college and career.
Why is SEL important?
There are a great deal of data indicating that large numbers of children are contending with significant social, emotional, and mental health barriers to their success in school and life. In addition, many children engage in challenging behaviors that educators must address to provide high quality instruction. Data from the 2005 Youth Risk Behavior Survey stated that:
6.0% of U.S. youth 14-17 years old did not go to school on one or more of the previous 30 days because they felt unsafe at school or on their way to or from school.
7.9% of these youth reported having been threatened or injured with a weapon on school property during this same period.
28.5% of these youth reported having felt so sad or hopeless almost every day for two weeks or more in a row during the previous 12 months that they stopped doing some usual activities.
13% reported actually having made a plan to attempt suicide during this period.
Data on developmental assets considered important to children’s mental health and social/emotional development are also cause for concern.
A meta-analysis in 2011 showed that teaching SEL skills leads to a 9% decrease in problem behaviors and an 11% increase on math and reading standardized test scores. Our students like in a 'wired' world where much of their interaction is virtual- texting, email, etc. Teaching SEL skills teaches students skills needed for interpersonal interactions, face to face or online. Paul Tough's book, How Children Succeed, talks about students needing the ability to cope with failure and continue working/ learning. SEL teaches skills to build resilience in students.
Providing children with comprehensive social and emotional learning (SEL) programs characterized by safe, caring, and well-managed learning environments and instruction in social and emotional skills addresses many of these learning barriers through enhancing school attachment, reducing risky behaviors and promoting positive development, and thereby positively influencing academic achievement.