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What is Social Emotional Learning?

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You’ve heard the acronym: SEL.

What exactly is social emotional learning?

We’ve got answers (and resources) right here!

What is Social Emotional Learning

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What Is SEL?

Social emotional learning (abbreviated “SEL”) has multiple dimensions.

It involves teaching children the social and emotional skills they need to thrive.

SEL is the foundation for all learning, because in order to learn you need to have a healthy sense of self, supportive relationships, and the ability to manage your emotions.

Social Emotional Skills Checklist

Many social emotional skills are learned in layers.

For example, before you learn how to manage your emotions you need to know a) what feelings/emotions/moods are and b) which feeling/emotion/mood you are currently experiencing.

Here is a general social emotional skills checklist.

Emotional Learning

  • know various emotions/feelings/moods
  • identify your current emotional state
  • control negative emotions (learn coping strategies)
  • manage stress
  • develop a healthy identity

Social Learning

  • follow directions
  • make responsible decisions
  • form positive friendships
  • maintain supportive relationships with family
  • develop empathy
What is Social Emotional Learning

Why Teaching SEL Is Important

Social emotional learning is the cornerstone for a healthy life both in and out of the classroom.

When you know yourself and like yourself, you are ready and able to reach out to those around you.

When you can identify your emotions, you can practice coping mechanisms to deal with anxiety or anger.

When you can think through choices and consequences ahead of time, you are primed to make responsible decisions.

Who doesn’t want these things for our children?

Children deserve to have these skills taught by trusted teachers, parents, and mentors.

Can you learn social emotional skills through trial and error?


But you can definitely learn them when they are taught intentionally and systematically.

You’ll learn them faster, and you’ll learn them sooner.

What is Social Emotional Learning

Resources for Learning More About SEL

If you want to learn more about SEL, check out these resources.

Social Emotional Learning and the Brain

In the book Social Emotional Learning and the Brain: Strategies to Help Your Students Thrive, author Marilee Sprenger instructs classroom teachers on how to model social emotional skills, awaken students’ self-awareness, and teach students to manage their behavior.

This book focuses on what you can do in 365 days to teach your students social-emotional skills.

The SEL Toolbox

The SEL Toolbox by Briana Makofse focuses on SEL activities that students can learn in a controlled environment and then practice in unpredictable, real-life situations.

These activities work best in a small group setting, and they are each presented as part of a lesson plan.

Teaching with the Heart in Mind

Lorea Martinez’s Teaching with the Heart in Mind tells teachers how to infuse SEL into existing lesson plans to spark students’ curiosity and encourage future success.

This book includes over 90 SEL activities (and many work for virtual classrooms as well).

Another plus?

It’s also available on audiobook!

Making Social and Emotional Learning Stick

The full title of this book by Elizabeth Sautter is Make Social and Emotional Learning Stick!: Practical Activities to Help Your Child Manage Emotions, Navigate Social Situations & Reduce Anxiety.

Unlike the previous three resources, this book is written primarily for parents.

It has SEL activities you can do with your kids at home.

What is Social Emotional Learning

All About SEL

Social emotional learning is not a trend; it’s here to stay.

When you teach social emotional skills, you set children up for a positive self image, healthy relationships, and the ability to self-regulate.

We want these for every child!

Educate yourself about SEL so you can give the children in your life the best and brightest future.

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