Foundational Knowledge

Why Social Emotional Learning Matters

Why is Social Emotional Learning Important?

What is Social Emotional Learning?

Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to:

  • understand and manage emotions
  • set and achieve positive goals
  • feel and show empathy for others
  • establish and maintain positive relationships
  • make responsible decisions
    adapted, CASEL

Why Focus on Social Emotional Learning?

Research shows that SEL can have a positive impact on school climate and promote a host of academic, social and emotional benefits for students.

  • Better academic performance
  • Improved attitudes and behaviours
  • Fewer negative behaviours
  • Reduced emotional distress.
                      adapted, CASEL

And the Research…

Greenberg et al. (2003) reported that well-designed and well-implemented SEL programming:

  • enhances social-emotional competencies (e.g., assertiveness and communication skills)
  • reduces internalizing and externalizing disorders, and
  • improves academic performance.

Impact on Academics

CASEL reports that according to a 2011 meta-analysis of 213 studies involving more than 270,000 students, those who participated in evidence-based SEL programs showed an 11 percentile-point gain in academic achievement compared to students who did not participate in SEL programs. Students participating in SEL programs also showed improved classroom behavior, an increased ability to manage stress and depression, and better attitudes about themselves, others, and school.

More Research…

(Elias et al., 1997; Zins, Weissberg, Wang, & Walberg, 2004)

Social Emotional Learning has positive effects on: 

  • academic performance
  • benefits physical health
  • improves citizenship 
  • is demanded by employers
  • is essential for lifelong success
  • reduces the risk of maladjustment, failed relationships, interpersonal violence, and substance abuse.

Social Emotional Growth (Maturation)


  • cannot be ‘taught’
  • cannot be ‘practiced’
  • does not rely on the most effective ‘program’
  • does not rely on the ‘role’ or ‘expertise’ of the adult who is involved
  • exists within the context of ‘RELATIONSHIP’

What We Have Learned

Relationships are Key

  • Kids learn the ability to self-regulate through their relationships with important people in their world.
  • This process occurs in relationships where the following are provided:
    • A secure base – the foundation for active exploration
    • A safe haven – a soft place to land