What is Social Emotional Learning?

Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) is the process of developing and using social and emotional skills to:

  • Understand and manage emotions
  • Set and achieve positive goals
  • Feel and show empathy for others
  • Establish and maintain positive relationships
  • Make responsible and educated decisions

SEL is one of the key competencies which students need to be successful and a core component of the College, Career, and Life Readiness Framework. This research-backed model helps educators drive student engagement and better outcomes through a purposeful approach, and it helps students meet their full potential and enjoy long-term success after high school.

Why is Social Emotional Learning Important for Students?

Social emotional skills are essential for students’ success in school and in life.

During the middle and high school years in particular, students are challenged with a myriad of complex situations and changes. SEL helps students get to know themselves as individuals during this pivotal time in their lives. This self-awareness leads to a deeper understanding of their strengths and weaknesses, as well as of their likes and dislikes. It also creates a healthy foundation from which they are able to set and meet goals, foster and navigate positive relationships, and make responsible choices. Social emotional programs increase students’ resilience and grit. Social emotional skills have been proven to help students more effectively cope with stress, solve problems, and avoid peer pressure.

From an academic perspective, students who have stronger social emotional skills are more ready to learn and motivated to achieve success. They are less likely to be thrown off course during times of transition, such as the change from middle school to high school or high school to college.

Studies by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), report more than a 10% percentile increase in school attendance and overall grades when students participate in SEL programs. According CASEL, students who participate in SEL programs have a 6% advantage in their high school graduation rate.

CASEL analysis examined the practical effects of SEL. They wanted to know: how much better off would a student body be over time if offered a SEL program? Their analysis found that with SEL:

  • 27% more students would improve their academic performance at the end of the program
  • 57% more would gain in their skills levels
  • 24% more would have improved social behaviors and lower levels of distress
  • 23% more would have improved attitudes
  • 22% more would show fewer conduct problems

CASEL concludes that adding a SEL program to the school curriculum can lead to multiple real-life benefits for students.

How Can Students Develop Social Emotional Skills?

SEL tools such as Naviance help students understand their strengths, manage emotions, build relationships, plan ahead, and make informed decisions.

Naviance provides online content and assessments so schools can flexibly incorporate critical social emotional learning into the curriculum at multiple stages throughout middle and high school. Naviance’s social emotional lessons align with each of CASEL’s five SEL Pillars: Self-Management, Self-Awareness, Social Awareness, Relationship Skills, and Responsible Decision-Making:

Learn more about how Naviance helps schools meet the five SEL competencies.

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Social emotional learning activities for high school

How Can You Measure Benefits of Social Emotional Learning?

Schools with Naviance-based SEL programs experience a positive impact on attendance, grades, and graduation rates. Among the schools investing in SEL, Everett Public Schools and Chicago Public Schools have already seen measurable success.

Everett Public Schools (EPS), a district located in Everett, Washington, launched Naviance as part of its focus on SEL. Since introducing Naviance’s social emotional curriculum, the district has consistently surpassed the state’s graduation rate. EPS has experienced a 65% increase in on-time graduation and decreased drop-out rates by 50%.

Chicago Public Schools (CPS), the third largest school district in the United States, uses Naviance to help students develop transition skills, a key aspect of social emotional learning. The district has achieved a college enrollment rate of 68%, a 13% increase in just two years, and a 36% increase since 2006.

Social Emotional Learning Resources

Below are resources you can use to learn more about how you can integrate SEL into your curriculum to prepare your students for success in college, career, and life.

Naviance SEL curriculum

Social Emotional Learning Toolkit

White paper: 5 Ways to Ease Transitions for Students During COVID-19

Blog: Why Prioritizing Social Emotional Learning is More Critical Than Ever

Blog: The Importance of Prioritizing Social Emotional Learning

Blog: Connecting Social Emotional Learning with CCLR During COVID-19

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