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Why is SEL important?

Research suggests that the integration of social and emotional activities with academic learning is beneficial to students in school and beyond.  When well implemented, SEL programs have been linked to a host of important educational and life outcomes, as listed here.

  • Higher test scores
  • Higher graduation rates
  • Prevention of bullying
  • Reduction in teacher stress
  • Improved college and career skills such as flexibility, adaptability, collaboration, and creativity
  • Improved social performance, job outcomes, and higher education attainment

How do we develop students’ social and emotional skills, habits, and mindsets?

A positive school climate and culture are the foundation for academic, social, and emotional learning. According to the National School Climate Center, school climate is defined as the “patterns of students’, parents’ and teachers’ experience of school life. It reflects norms, values, relationships, teaching and learning practices, and organizational structures.”  A school’s climate is sometimes referred to as a school. 

culture, includes everything within the school, ranging from, the physical environment, such as the condition of the bathrooms, walls, and classroom furniture, to the kind of learning students have access to; to the more abstract conceptions of climate, such as how welcoming the front office staff is or how students are spoken to in the hallways or the cafeteria line. A school’s climate “sets the tone” at the school and can be both seen and felt in how people within the school interact with one another.

Positive School Climate

 Source: Alliance for Excellent Education

Strategies for Developing SEL

In Classrooms & Schools:

SEL at home
  • Support executive functioning with organizational routines and norms for behavior
  • Practice mindfulness or other stress management strategies
  • Explicit teaching of empathy, collaboration, and conflict resolution
  • Offer opportunities for students to receive feedback, revise work, and reflect on goals/progress
  • Encourage a growth mindset where effort is praised, not competition
  • Teach students to work in groups and collaborate effectively using listening and speaking skills 

 At Home:

Family Gathering
  • Help children/youth make a connection between the feelings in their body and their emotions
  • Be willing to apologize
  • Teach emotional vocabulary
  • Encourage curiosity about and respect for different cultures
  • Focus on strengths
  • Ask questions that will help children solve problems (e.g. How could you solve this problem? What led to this situation happening?)
  • Read books and stories together about overcoming challenges and feelings
  • Give children responsibilities in the home to encourage sharing and helping
  • Focus on the value of learning by offering a quiet workspace and helping your child set priorities
  • Stay calm when angry - explain your feelings or frustrations
  • Avoid sarcasm and name-calling, which can create shame and humiliation

Source: Schools, Parents, and Social and Emotional Learning: Ten Things You Can Do At Home

[1] Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning. What is SEL?

[2] Osher, D., Kidron, Y., Brackett, M., Dymnicki, A., Jones, S., & Weissberg, R. P. (2016). Advancing the science and practice of social and emotional learning: Looking back and moving forward. Review of Research in Education40(1), 644-681.

[3] Melnick, H., Cook-Harvey, C. M., & Darling-Hammond, L. (2017). Encouraging social and emotional learning in the context of new accountability. Palo Alto, CA: Learning Policy Institute.