Social and emotional learning is essential to every child’s education.
Social and emotional learning (SEL) is an integral part of education and human development. SEL is the process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions.
SEL advances educational equity and excellence through authentic school-family-community partnerships to establish learning environments and experiences that feature trusting and collaborative relationships, rigorous and meaningful curriculum and instruction, and ongoing evaluation. SEL can help address various forms of inequity and empower young people and adults to co-create thriving schools and contribute to safe, healthy, and just communities.
The most effective way to promote SEL 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. This requires a coordinated, systemic approach between district leaders, principals, teachers, families, community partners, and other stakeholders.
CASEL identifies five core competencies that help children and adults navigate the world more effectively.
In partnership with schools, families, and communities, districts play a critical role in supporting young people’s social and emotional development. This goes beyond rolling out an SEL program to embedding SEL into every aspect of the district’s core work.
Implementing and sustaining systemic SEL is a long-term process driven by continuous improvement. CASEL identifies four Focus Areas for engaging in high-quality systemic SEL implementation:
CASEL’s framework takes a systemic approach that emphasizes the importance of establishing equitable learning environments and coordinating practices across key settings of classrooms, schools, families, and communities to enhance all students’ social, emotional, and academic learning. Quality implementation of well-designed, evidence-based, classroom programs and practices is a foundational element of effective SEL. We believe it is most beneficial to integrate SEL throughout the school’s academic curricula and culture, across the broader contexts of schoolwide practices and policies, and through ongoing collaboration with families and community organizations. These coordinated efforts should foster youth voice, agency and engagement, establish supportive classroom and school climates and models of discipline, enhance adult SEL competence, and be grounded in authentic family and community partnerships.
A growing body of research indicates that schools that promote social and emotional learning are critical to students’ academic, social, personal, and professional success (Durlak et al., 2011). Additionally, a systemic approach to SEL: