Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) and its importance

Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) and its importanceHow do you create a world where every child thrives? The answer partially lies in Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), a theory that has been in existence for many years but is now being increasingly adopted by schools and educators alike – with a powerful impact on children’s behaviour, development and academic performance.

A highly effective Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) program involves school, family and community involvement, and helps students develop five critical skills and competencies:

1. Self-awareness

Self-awareness includes understanding one’s own emotions, personal goals, and values. This includes truthfully assessing one’s strengths and limitations, recognising and labelling one’s feelings, having a positive mind-set and being well-grounded. High levels of self-awareness require the ability to recognize how thoughts, feelings, and actions are connected as well as gaining access to one’s own strengths and weaknesses.

2. Self-management

Self-management entails skills and attitudes that simplify the ability to regulate one’s own emotions and behaviours. This comprises the ability to delay gratification in the age of instant-gratification, stress management, controlling impulses, self-motivation, and perseverance through challenges, setting and working towards achieving personal and educational goals.

3. Social Awareness

Social awareness involves the ability to show empathy, take others’ perspectives, recognizing and mobilizing support for those with different backgrounds or cultures. It also involves understanding social norms for behaviour and recognizing family, school, and community resources.

4. Relationship Skills

Relationship skills help students establish and maintain healthy and satisfying relationships, and behave in agreement with social norms. These skills involve clear communication, active listening, cooperation, non-violence and constructive conflict resolution, resisting inappropriate social pressure, and seeking help when needed.

5. Responsible Decision Making

Responsible decision making teaches students how to make positive choices in personal behaviour and social interactions. It requires the ability to consider ethical choices, safety concerns, correct norms for risky behaviours, health and well-being of oneself and others, and realistic evaluation of various actions’ consequences with potential obstacles anticipated.

Adults have a profound effect on children, and over a long period of time can even influence children’s skills, temperament and the kind of people they grow into. Homes and communities, not just schools, are responsible for addressing the social-emotional development of every child. By making this currently informal education connected and coordinated through SEL school programs, students can be more successful in school and daily life.