Social and Emotional Learning


Social and emotional learning is a newer field of study for school-aged students in some philosophies of education. In recent years in the United States, federal and state laws have been passed that require schools to address developing these soft skills in students. These skills are considered to be twenty-first century skills that employers value more than content knowledge or a high intellectual quotient (IQ). They are sometimes referred to as emotional intelligence or quotient (EQ). Students that attend schools that have social and emotional learning programs imbedded in them tend to score better on standardized tests. When students feel emotionally comfortable at school, they are able to engage the part of their brain that stores new knowledge more often, and this can be measured.

The American based Collaborative for Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) has come up with competencies that one needs to acquire to effectively deal with the challenges and ethical dilemmas presented by daily life. Awareness of what these competencies are gives a better understanding of the skills that social and emotional learning encompasses. They are self-management, self-awareness, social awareness, responsible decision-making, and relationship skills.

An ideal social and emotional model develops these skills in a wholistic environment where students have the chance to practice what they learn on the playground, in the classroom, the lunchroom, on the bus, etc. It becomes even more powerful if young people are supported in practicing the same skills at home and when they are out in the community. The graphic (left) summarizes these ideas.

The social and emotional learning model of Positive Discipline addresses all the CASEL competencies and is a wholistic approach to SEL in schools that links schoolwide policies and practices with the SEL curriculum while bringing parents and other community members into the circle of support for students in this area.