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What is social-emotional learning?

What is social-emotional learning?

Do you ever have trouble setting goals or making decisions? What about coping with emotions? Or getting along with — and feeling empathy for — others? These are all critical social and emotional skills. And some schools are explicitly teaching them to kids.

Social-emotional learning (SEL) is developing and using social and emotional skills. (You also may hear SEL referred to as socio-emotional learning or social-emotional literacy.)

People with strong social-emotional skills are better equipped to manage daily challenges, build positive relationships, and make informed decisions. SEL helps students and adults thrive in school and life. And the skills can be taught and learned from preschool through adulthood.

That’s important because people aren’t born knowing how to manage emotions, solve problems, and get along with others. These skills must be developed, and schools can help students learn them. It’s also important to know that some students may need targeted support to fully benefit from SEL.

Author: Alexis Clark, MA, MS is a freelance editor for Understood and an adjunct professor at Columbia Journalism School.

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