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Social and Emotional Learning

What Is Social and 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, and make responsible decisions.


Why Is SEL Important?

Social and emotional skills are critical to being a good student, citizen, and worker. Many risky behaviors (e.g., drug use, violence, bullying, and dropping out) can be prevented or reduced when students have strong social and emotional skills. This is best done through teachers, parents, and community members working together. 

Social and Emotional Learning Core Competencies

CASEL (Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning) has identified five sets of skills, listed below. Click here to learn more about CASEL and the five core competencies.


The ability to correctly recognize one’s thoughts and feelings and how they influence behavior. This includes knowing one's strengths and weaknesses, having confidence, and being positive.

Social Awareness

The ability to put yourself in another person's shoes. Being able to understand others from diverse backgrounds and cultures. Being able to recognize family, school, and community resources and supports.

Relationship Skills

The ability to make and keep healthy and rewarding relationships with diverse individuals and groups. This includes clear communication, active listening, working together, resisting peer pressure, solving conflicts, and asking for and giving help when needed.


The ability to manage one’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in different situations. This includes managing stress, being motivated, and setting and working toward personal and academic goals.

Responsible Decision Making

The ability to make good choices about personal and social behavior.

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