Social and Emotional Learning and Bullying Prevention
What Is SEL?
SEL is an educational movement gaining ground throughout the world. It focuses on the systematic development of a core set of social and emotional skills that help children more effectively handle life challenges and thrive in both their learning and their social environments. The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) defines SEL as the processes through which children and adults acquire the knowledge, attitudes, and skills they need to recognize and manage their emotions, demonstrate caring and concern for others, establish positive relationships, make responsible decisions, and handle challenging social situations constructively.
CASEL has identified five core categories of social and emotional skills:
- Self-awareness—accurately assessing one’s feelings, interests, values, and strengths/ abilities, and maintaining a well-grounded sense of self-confidence
- Self-management—regulating one’s emotions to handle stress, control impulses, and persevere in overcoming obstacles; setting personal and academic goals and then monitoring one’s progress toward achieving them; and expressing emotions constructively
- Social awareness—taking the perspective of and empathizing with others; recognizing and appreciating individual and group similarities and differences; identifying and following societal standards of conduct; and recognizing and using family, school, and community resources
- Relationship skills—establishing and maintaining healthy and rewarding relationships based on cooperation; resisting inappropriate social pressure; preventing, managing, and resolving interpersonal conflict; and seeking help when needed
- Responsible decision-making—making decisions based on consideration of ethical standards, safety concerns, appropriate standards of conduct, respect for others, and likely consequences of various actions; applying decision-making skills to academic and social situations; and contributing to the well-being of one’s school and community.
These skills allow children to calm themselves when angry, initiate friendships, resolve relationship conflicts respectfully, and make ethical and safe choices. To develop these capacities, children need to experience safe, nurturing, and well-managed environments where they feel valued and respected; to have meaningful interactions with others who are socially and emotionally competent; and to receive positive and specific guidance.
Many excellent SEL curricula and programs are available that provide sequential and developmentally appropriate instruction in SEL skills, and structured opportunities for children to practice, apply, and be recognized for using these skills throughout the day. SEL programs are ideally implemented in a coordinated manner throughout the school district, from preschool through high school. Lessons are reinforced in both classroom and non-classroom settings (such as the hallways, cafeteria, and playground), as well as during out-of-school activities and at home. Educators receive ongoing professional development in SEL, and families and schools work together to promote children’s social, emotional, and academic success.
Reprinted with the permission of the Committee for Children. © 2007 Committee for Children.
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