Five Benefits of Social Emotional Learning
posted by: Melissa | November 14, 2019, 08:48 PM   

Since the beginning of the profession, teachers have known that it is not possilbe to divorce a student’s academic growth from their personal growth. In the past, this has taken the form of moral education, later followed by character education. Most recently, the attention has been placed on social emotional learning (SEL).


Social emotional learning generally refers to activities or curriculum that help students cultivate the character skills they will need beyond the classrom and out into the world. SEL tends to focus on five key areas: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.


Why embrace this approach for our students’ personal growth?


  1. It works

    Whether or not a program does what it claims, should always be the first consideration whenever an educator evaluates adopting it. In the case of social emotional learning, the research is in overwhelming agreement: It does what it says on the tin. Students who participate in SEL programs show improvement in the five areas that SEL programs concentrate on.


  2. It improves academic performance

    Numerous studies have shown that when students work on their SEL skills, their academic performance increases as well. One study found that first-grade students enrolled in a SEL program increased the student’s reading capabilities. According to a meta-analysis conducted by CASEL, students who received SEL instruction continued to see significant academic gains for years.


  3. It improves classroom discipline

    In the same first-grade study, the students who received the SEL intervention had fewer behavior issues such as those associated with hyperactivity. Teachers in a sizable longitudinal study claimed they saw fewer aggressive behaviors in elementary students, while a survey of teachers in a different report said SEL resulted in fewer incidents of bullying.


  4. It benefits the students’ lives outside the classroom

    According to CASEL, students who receive SEL instruction are less likely to have drug issues. In his book, Caring Classrooms/Intelligent Schools, Jonathan Cohen makes a strong case for social emotional learning, citing studies that point to a reduction in drug problems, risky sexual behavior, and aggression, among other behaviors.


  5. Its benefits reach into adulthood

    If everything above was not convincing enough. Some studies show that the benefits can last long beyond a student’s school career. One study published in the American Journal of Public Health, found that evaluating a kindergartener’s social emotional health was predictive of that student’s later life. Confirming this is a recent OECD report that demonstrates how cultivating SEL skills in children results in more successful life outcomes as adults.


If you’re not already teaching SEL skills in your classroom and the above benefits have piqued your interest, you can learn more about it on the CASEL website.


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