Importance of SEL

SEL occurs all day, every day, and everywhere.

Social Emotional Learning helps to create safe, healthy and supportive environments that extend beyond the classroom – to the whole school, home, and the community. SEL promotes equity and enables all learners to build on their unique skills and qualities.

Social Emotional Learning is the pie crust – composed of self-awareness, social-awareness, self-management, relationship skills, and responsible decision making – while all other academic subjects like math, reading, social studies, science, etc. are on top and makes up the filling of the pie. Social Emotional Learning holds and supports all other academic subjects. 

This is why it is not only important to simply incorporate Social Emotional Learning into what is being taught, but also why it is important to teach it using so many different teaching methods so all students have the opportunity to fully understand and be able to implement these skills into their lives. 

A child’s ability to learn is significantly diminished when they are in a school where they do not feel safe and supported. The more comfortable a student feels in their environment, the more they will be able to focus on what is important to them.

The overall health of a child and their mindset to embrace learning is critical. When educators approach social emotional learning from a perspective of equity and wanting to ensure that conditions of a school are appropriate for healthy learning, students will be given the best chance to succeed in their education and in life. 

Students can’t learn if they are struggling with social and emotional issues. It is a basic need for all students. If students don’t have self-control, problem solving skills, decision making skills, an understanding of what perseverance is, anger management skills, and empathy for others, they are not equipped to learn.

Social emotional learning is the foundation for life. If students have healthy social and emotional skills, they will have a firm foundation for a happy life. People who have these skills are more resilient and able to deal with the ups and downs of life.

In a national sample of 148,189 sixth to twelfth graders, 

  • only 29% to 45% of surveyed students reported that they had social competencies such as empathy, decision making, and conflict resolution skills; 
  • and only 29% indicated that their school provided a caring, encouraging environment (Benson, 2006). 
  • By high school as many as 40% to 60% of students become chronically disengaged from school (Klem & Connell, 2004).

(The Impact of Enhancing Students’ Social and Emotional Learning: A Meta-Analysis of School-Based Universal Interventions, 2011)

97,000 students ranging from kindergarten to high school took part in a meta-analysis that compared students that had participated in social emotional learning programs to those that had not. 

  • Researchers found that those students that participated in Social Emotional Learning programs had improved academic performance by 13 percentile points. 
  • Researchers also found that students that participated in Social Emotional Learning programs demonstrated a 6% increase in high school graduation rates, and an 11% increase in college graduation rates.

(“Promoting Positive Youth Development Through School-Based Social and Emotional Learning Interventions: A Meta-Analysis of Follow-Up Effects, 2017)

Another study from 2015 that was published in the American Journal of Public Health shows that there are significant associations between social emotional skills at earlier ages and how that affects them as young adults in 

  • Employment
  • Academic Achievement
  • Substance Abuse
  • Criminal Activity
  • Mental Health

(Early Social-Emotional Functioning and Public Health: The Relationship Between Kindergarten Social Competence and Future Wellness, 2015). 

Although SEL is generally thought to be part of guidance or counseling curriculum, SEL can be incorporated into many different other lessons for other subjects, and help students to get a deeper understanding of both subjects.

Our Rock World Empathy Curriculum for grades 7-9 is an example of this by blending SEL with Social Studies – Global Studies. It simultaneously meets ASCA standards as well as Common Core standards for Social Studies.

All Rock Digi curricula meets American School Counselor Association (ASCA) standards as well as Common Core standards.