What is SEL
(Social Emotional Learning)
& Why is it Essential for Children?
What is SEL?
Social Emotional Learning teaches kids life skills that will benefit them now, and into adulthood. They learn how to better identify and manage their feelings and discover better ways to relate to others. SEL instruction also gives kids strategies to better manage stress, set and achieve goals and make more responsible decisions. There is also a strong emphasis on learning the tenets of good character.
Why do kids need SEL instruction?
We have been going through extremely challenging times. There has never been a greater need to help children develop these invaluable skills so they can better navigate the world around them. We need to prepare them to handle the challenges and disappointments that will surely come their way. They need to develop their confidence, self-esteem and resiliency to combat emotions like anxiety, fear, insecurity and envy. And it is critical to instill in them values like honesty, integrity, patience, kindness and empathy. That is exactly why I targeted these issues in the stories and lessons I created for The Light Giver Stories Books. As a teacher I realized how crucial it was to address these topics because I witnessed how great the need was in my students. Once I addressed them, I watch the transformation occur as my students thrived personally and academically.
Are there any proven benefits of SEL instruction?
The benefits of SEL instruction on children is impressive and has been shown to impact them positively well into adulthood. Children exposed to SEL are more confident, self-assured and successful. Their behavior improves, as do their relationships with others both in and out of school. SEL instruction also results in a substantial increase in their academic achievement. In addition, studies have also shown that children who received SEL instruction are less likely to have mental health issues or engage in drug abuse or criminal behavior. They are also less likely to face unemployment, divorce, and poor health in the future. Below is a list of SEL studies and statistics which give a more thorough explanation of some of SEL's benefits.
SEL Studies and Statistics
In 2011, a report “Ready to Lead” by (CASEL) the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning reported that after an analysis of 213 studies of 270,000 learners, those who took part in SEL-informed curricula saw an 11% jump in academic achievement compared to those who did not participate.
CASEL also reported students who had already been identified as having problems, had significant improvement in their behavior, developed better attitudes towards themselves, had fewer outbreaks, and also saw an increase in their academic achievement after receiving SEL instruction.
Six years later, on July 12, the same research team published a follow-up study in the journal, “Child Development.” They studied 82 different interventions for more than 97,000 students from kindergarten through high school, for 6 months to 18 years after the program ended. Their study showed that even 3.5 years after the last intervention, students who had SEL instruction were on average 13% points higher academically. They also noted that conduct problems, emotional distress and drug use were significantly lower, but their social emotional skills, and positive attitudes towards their self, and others, were higher.
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) reposted that lack of SEL instruction correlated to adverse outcomes like the increased chance of unemployment, divorce, poor health, criminal behavior and imprisonment. It also reported that advances in neuroscience imply that targeting SEL instruction in students in kindergarten can have a long-lasting impact on their reading and vocabulary skills, including in high poverty schools. It suggested that SEL may help close achievement gaps.
In 2015, a national study published in the American Journal of Public Health, reported statistically significant correlations between SEL in kindergarten and outcomes for young adults in key areas like education, criminal activity, substance abuse and mental health. It concluded that early prosocial skills decreased the probability of living in or being on the waiting list for public assistance, having incidents with police involvement before adulthood, or spending time in a detention facility.
Options for Youth, a not-for-profit Charter School which provides at-risk and underserved students an alternative to traditional learning methods and environments, reported that students who took part in SEL instruction have had long term improvements in aggression and disruptive behavior. In fact, they reported a 10% reduction in behavioral, psychological and substance abuse problems by the age of 25.