What is Social-Emotional Learning?


Social and emotional learning is the process through which children and adults acquire the knowledge, attitudes, and skills to: • Recognize and manage their emotions

• Set and achieve positive goals

• Demonstrate caring and concern for others

• Establish and maintain positive relationships

• Make responsible decisions

• Handle interpersonal situations effectively

These critical social-emotional competencies involve skills that enable children to calm themselves when angry, initiate friendships and resolve conflicts respectfully, make ethical and safe choices, and contribute constructively to their community


(Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, 2005; Elias, Zins, Weissberg, Frey, Greenberg, Haynes, Kessler, Schwab-Stone, & Shriver, 1997; Zins & Elias, 2006).



The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) has identified five groups of inter-related core social and emotional competencies that SEL programs should address

(Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning; 2005; Devaney, O’Brien, Keister, Resnik, & Weissberg, 2006):


• Self-awareness: accurately assessing one’s feelings, interests, values, and strengths; maintaining a well-grounded sense of self-confidence;


• Self-management: regulating one’s emotions to handle stress, controlling impulses, and persevering in addressing challenges; expressing emotions appropriately; and setting and monitoring progress toward personal and academic goals;

• Social awareness: being able to take the perspective of and empathize with others; recognizing and appreciating individual and group similarities and differences; and recognizing and making best use of family, school, and community resources;

• Relationship skills: establishing and maintaining healthy and rewarding relationships based on cooperation; resisting inappropriate social pressure; preventing, managing, and resolving interpersonal conflict; and seeking help when needed; and

• Responsible decision making: making decisions based on consideration of ethical standards, safety concerns, appropriate social norms, respect for others, and likely consequences of various actions; applying decision-making skills to academic and social situations; and contributing to the well-being of one’s school and community

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