Key takeaways

  • SEL stands for social emotional learning, sometimes written as social-emotional learning or social and emotional learning.
  • SEL in schools aims to improve the social emotional abilities of young learners so that they can develop the necessary skills to be future-ready.
  • Check out our TikTok which is dedicated to informing school community stakeholders, such as parents, about the benefits of SEL for children.

So your child’s started at a school that implements SEL in their curriculum, or perhaps their new teacher this year uses SEL strategies in the classroom. But what does SEL mean? What is the definition of SEL? This blog aims to allay any fears and answer any questions you may have about SEL and how it will impact your child.

What is social emotional learning? What does SEL stand for?

SEL stands for Social Emotional Learning. You may also see it written as social-emotional learning or social and emotional learning.

It’s the process of helping people, especially young learners, to learn the required social emotional life skills and attitudes:

  • to be able to create and maintain healthy, strong interpersonal relationships,
  • to develop healthy personal identities,
  • to be able to manage, recognize, and regulate their emotions,
  • to have the best chances to achieve their personal and professional goals,
  • to know how to and the benefits of making responsible decisions, and
  • to be able to feel and express empathy with others.

One of social emotional learning’s goals is establishing cohesive, caring, and authentic relationships among all people in a school community. SEL aims to empower young learners (and adults) to build strong, supportive environments in which they can thrive.

Although SEL has been around for many years, educators, state and district leaders, and chief state school officers around the country are now seeing the value in social and emotional learning. More and more schools are implementing SEL, to various degrees, for the betterment of child development and the whole child.

Here’s how Ashley Shannon, our SEL expert and seasoned educator of over 15 years, summarizes social emotional learning:

“SEL is the process of teaching the skills that are vital for life success. SEL is not new. It has always been important to teach these skills to students. What is new is more and more people are adopting a systemized way to teach these skills, ensuring greater life success.”

Why is SEL important?

SEL is important because it aims to encourage the development of important social and emotional skills in young learners to get them as life-ready as possible. These skills will increase your child's success and enjoyment in their academic, professional, and personal lives as much as possible.

So, ultimately SEL gives young people the skills to get the most out of their lives.

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What is the CASEL framework and why is it important?

The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) is highly respected among educators, parents, and other supporters of SEL. They developed a framework, often called the CASEL framework or the 5 CASEL competencies, that outlines the five main, interloping skills around which SEL curriculums and practices are often based.

The five core competencies are:

  1. Self-awareness
  2. Self-management
  3. Responsible decision-making
  4. Social awareness
  5. Relationship skills

You may often see this wheel, designed by CASEL, in SEL-related resources.

CASEL's SEL competencies wheel

How is social emotional learning taught?

SEL can be taught in many ways and is highly flexible in nature. Sometimes, leading schools may opt to embed social emotional learning in their curriculums - this may mean that schools have separate classes to teach SEL skills. On the other hand, SEL may be embedded in existing classes, so the five core competencies are seamlessly added to teachings of math, ELA, or other core subjects. Whatever method your school or district uses, the most effective method is to ensure that targeted supports are always in place for the students that need them. These can be implemented via SEL management platforms, such as Satchel Pulse Skills, which are the easiest ways to assess, monitor, and support students in their emotional development.

SEL has no political affiliation or agenda. SEL only aims to improve the social emotional skills of young learners.

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Where can I learn more about SEL?

Here at Satchel Pulse, we have many blogs that discuss all things SEL (among other topics, too!). For downloadable resources, you can head over to our resource center. If you’re at the beginning of your journey with SEL, we recommend the following resources to guide you:

1. The 5 CASEL Competencies

A handy guide for more information on CASEL’s framework.

2. SEL: What difference will it make?

An informative webinar on the benefits of SEL and how to measure it.

3. Our SEL guides for school community members

SEL Guide for Counselors

SEL Guide for Educators

SEL Guide for District Leaders

4. How can students become future-ready with SEL?

This blog is helpful for those that would like to learn more about the long-term benefits of social emotional learning for children and adults. Helping children grow into life-long learners and increasing future readiness as much as possible is a passionate goal of SEL advocators.

5. TikTok

You can also find plenty of informative videos on our TikTok, created by Ashley herself. Check out some of them below:



There are also many external resources surrounding social emotional learning, too. We recommend those created by CASEL which you can find here.

Author: Fern Dinsdale

Posted: 25 Jul 2022

Estimated time to read: 8 mins

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