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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

What Is Social Emotional Learning and Why Does It Matter?

Published 6/24/2020.

This was developed in support of the Toolbox Training workshop, Promoting Social & Emotional Learning, which you can learn about more here. This content is also available via the free pdf book 100 Activities and Methods for Promoting Social & Emotional Learning in Afterschool Programs.

What Is Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)?

“The capacity to recognize and manage emotions, solve problems effectively, and establish positive relationships with others.” –Joseph E. Zins and Maurice J. Elias, the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL)

Why SEL Matters

There are proven benefits for youth who participate in social & emotional learning programs in school settings.

What Goes Up:

  • Academic achievement –GPA and standardized test scores up 11% (CASEL, Edutopia)
  • Social and emotional skills –up 23% (Durlak)
  • Attitude toward self, others, school (CASEL, Durlak, Edutopia)
  • Helping/prosocial behaviors –up 9% (Durlak, Edutopia)
  • Emotional regulation (Go Strengths)
  • Classroom engagement (Go Strengths)
  • Resilience (Go Strengths)
  • Self-confidence (Go Strengths)

What Goes Down:

  • Problem behavior –down 9% (Durlak, Go Strengths)
  • Aggression (Edutopia)
  • Emotional stress –down 10% (Durlak)
  • Negative thinking decreases (Go Strengths)
  • Substance abuse (CASEL)

Resources in parentheses are detailed at the bottom of the page.


There are seven social & emotional skills with which all youth should be A.R.M.O.R.E.D.:

  • Awareness of Self
  • Regulation
  • Motivation
  • Others (Awareness of)
  • Relationship Building
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Decision Making/Problem Solving

Read more about these skills here.

Other Toolbox Training Resources:

Additional Resources and References:

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