What Are the Benefits of SEL?

The benefits of social-emotional learning are boundless. SEL affects the lives of students, teachers, parents, employers, and the larger community in meaningful ways that improve relationships and societies as a whole.

Two decades of research show that SEL skills pave the way for positive life experiences.

These skills are associated with:

  • Better attitudes about self, school, and others
  • Decreased alcohol and drug use, violence, bullying, impulsivity, and conduct problems (disruptive class behavior, non-compliance, aggression, or delinquent acts)
  • Heightened college retention, physical health, stress management, self-esteem, emotional regulation, decision-making, andempathy

SEL also contributes to the following positive outcomes:

  • Improved Academic Achievement — SEL participants have demonstrated achievement scores an average of 11% higher than students who did not receive SEL instruction.
  • Decreased Violence and Self-harm — Suicide and homicide and the second and third leading causes of death for school-aged youth in the United States. Participation in SEL programming has shown to decrease violence and self-harm by 19%.
  • Reduced Poverty and Increased Mobility — SEL competencies are critically important for the long-term success of all students in today’s society. There are statistically significant associations between learning SEL skills in kindergarten and key outcomes for young adults years later. Students exposed to SEL face a decreased likelihood of living in or being on a waiting list for public housing, receiving public assistance, having any involvement with police before adulthood, or ever spending time in a detention facility.
  • Better-trained Employees – An education bolstered by SEL can also help young people when they enter the workplace. 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
  • Economic Benefits — Every dollar invested in SEL programming yields $11 in long-term economic benefits, including reduced juvenile crime, higher lifetime earnings, and better mental health and physical health.