Social and emotional learning (SEL) is an integral part of education and human development. SEL is the process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions.

SEL advances educational equity and excellence through authentic school-family-community partnerships to establish learning environments and experiences that feature trusting and collaborative relationships, rigorous and meaningful curriculum and instruction, and ongoing evaluation. SEL can help address various forms of inequity and empower young people and adults to co-create thriving schools and contribute to safe, healthy, and just communities.

Defining SEL

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.

Increasingly SEL has become a coordinating framework for how educators, families, and communities partner to promote students’ social, emotional, and academic learning.

When we reference SEL, we recognize its complementary nature to related areas that also stress social and emotional development and the safe, supportive and engaging environments that support it, including: whole child development, positive youth development, character development, 21st century skills, workforce readiness, multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS), positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS), trauma-informed practice, restorative justice, and positive climate and culture for schools and communities.

For more information visit What is SEL? at CASEL.

Download the CASEL Framework (PDF)
Download in Spanish (PDF)


According to the Youth Risk Behavior Survey of S.C. high school students

  • 25% were currently drinking alcohol
  • 19% were currently using marijuana
  • 15% had taken  pain pills without a doctor’s prescription
  • 26% were offered, sold or given illegal drugs on school property
  • 39% had sex;  91% unprotected
  • 18% had carried a weapon
  • 24% had been in physical fight
  • 21% had been bullied
  • 33% felt sad or hopeless
  • 19% considered suicide; 11% attempted  suicide
  • 43% increase in suicides 10-24
  • 250,000 children live in poverty

SEL implementation as a foundation to educational learning has strong evidence that it helps children with all social emotional skills that prevent these statistics from being our reality.

The top 10 job skills identified by the World Economic Forum all involve social and emotional competence.
  • Complex problem solving
  • Critical thinking
  • Creativity
  • People management
  • Coordinating with others
  • Cognitive flexibility
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Judgment and decision-making
  • Service orientation
  • Negotiation

SEL Impact

An extensive body of rigorous research (including randomized control trials, longitudinal follow-ups, and multiple replications) demonstrates that education that promotes SEL gets results, and that teachers in all academic areas can effectively teach SEL. Evidence demonstrates that social and emotional learning (SEL) improves mental health, social skills and behavior, academic achievement, and college and career readiness.

Educators Value SEL

Teachers are calling for schools to prioritize integrating SEL learning practices and strategies.

Principals Value SEL

Principals say SEL is essential, but want more guidance, training and support to teach these skills effectively.

SEL Investments Yield Returns

On average, for every $1 invested in SEL programming, there is a return of $11.

For more information visit SEL Impact at CASEL.