Benefits of Social Emotional Learning

The concept of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) has been gaining attention in the education sector as an essential component of a comprehensive educational approach. SEL provides a framework for students to develop essential life skills, such as empathy, self-awareness, and effective communication, which are crucial for their success in school and beyond. However, some skeptics question the benefits of social emotional learning and its effectiveness in achieving these goals. This article will examine four well-documented benefits of SEL and present research findings that speak to the efficacy of having a well-crafted Social-Emotional Learning Curriculum.

Key takeaways:

  • Students who participate in SEL programs demonstrate on average an 11-percentile point gain in academic achievement compared to their non-SEL peers. (Durlak et al., 2011)
  • They exhibit a remarkable 38% reduction in behavior problems compared to their peers who do not participate in these programs. (Taylor et al, 2017)
  • They are less likely to suffer negative outcomes such as substance abuse, criminal behavior, and mental health issues in their late adolescence and early adulthood. (Jones et al., 2015)
  • They exhibit significantly lower levels of depression, anxiety, and stress than their non-SEL peers. (Payton et al., 2008)

1. Improved academic performance

One of the most concrete ways to measure the effectiveness of SEL curricula is to examine their impact on academic performance. Numerous studies have shown a strong correlation between SEL and improved academic outcomes, highlighting the significance of SEL programs in supporting students’ growth and learning. For example, a meta-analysis conducted by Durlak et al. (2017) found that students who participated in SEL programs demonstrated an 11-percentile point gain in academic achievement compared to their peers who did not benefit from SEL instruction. This notable improvement in academic performance showcases the potential of SEL curricula to boost students’ success in their academics. This increase in academic performance can be attributed to the developing of essential life skills such as problem-solving, decision-making, and goal-setting, which are all fostered through SEL curricula. By promoting these crucial cognitive skills, SEL programs help students become better equipped to tackle complex tasks and navigate the challenges they face in school. The same capabilities also underpin independent living and as such play a key role in post-secondary development. Moreover, students with strong social and emotional skills can better manage stress, form healthy relationships, and persevere through difficult situations. This resilience enables them to maintain focus and motivation, which are critical to achieving academic success.
25 Life skills all teens should have before leaving their home

Discover the 25 life skills middle and high school students should acquire in order to become independent adults.

A girl rides her bike with her dog as she learns to be independent, one of the essential life skills for teens.

2. Reduced behavioral problems

Another undeniable proof of the effectiveness of SEL curricula lies in the significant reduction of behavioral problems in students. Students who participate in SEL programs have considerably decreased aggression, bullying, and disruptive behaviors in the classroom, creating a more conducive learning environment for all.

In a study by Taylor et al. (2017), students who participated in SEL programs exhibited a remarkable 38% reduction in behavior problems compared to their peers who did not participate in these programs. This noteworthy decrease in problematic behaviors highlights the transformative impact of SEL curricula on students’ lives. Developing emotional regulation, empathy, and interpersonal skills through SEL enables students to better manage their emotions and resolve conflicts peacefully. When students learn to understand and regulate their emotions effectively, they become more capable of interacting positively with their peers, fostering a sense of belonging and connectedness. Moreover, the benefits of social emotional learning for students extend into developing crucial conflict-resolution skills, such as active listening, perspective-taking, and effective communication. By cultivating these abilities, students become more adept at navigating interpersonal challenges and avoiding escalating tensions that can lead to disruptive behaviors.

3. Enhanced emotional well-being

The benefits of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) on students’ emotional well-being is another critical aspect to consider. Adolescence can be challenging for many young people, with increased pressures and expectations from school, family, and peers. SEL programs have been shown to promote emotional well-being by fostering resilience, self-awareness, and self-regulation, ultimately helping students navigate this challenging period more effectively. In Payton et al.’s (2008) ground-breaking research, The Positive Impact of Social and Emotional Learning for Kindergarten to Eighth-Grade Students, the authors demonstrated that students who participated in SEL programs had significantly lower levels of depression, anxiety, and stress than their non-SEL peers. This notable improvement in mental health illustrates the power of SEL curricula to support academic achievement and contribute to students’ overall well-being. Furthermore, when students feel emotionally supported and have the skills to manage their emotions, they are more likely to engage in their education and succeed academically. This connection between emotional well-being and academic success underscores the importance of incorporating SEL programs into the educational experience.

Get the best return on your SEL investment with Ori Learning’s solution

4. Long-term benefits of SEL

Finally, the long-term benefits of SEL curricula offer compelling evidence of their effectiveness, in that the skills developed through SEL programs continue to positively impact students’ lives long after they leave school.

Jones et al. (2015) found that students who had participated in SEL programs in elementary school were less likely to experience negative outcomes such as substance abuse, criminal behavior, and mental health issues in their late adolescence and early adulthood.

Moreover, these students were more likely to achieve higher levels of education and secure stable employment, emphasizing the strong connection between SEL education and long-term success in various aspects of life. SEL programs thus enhance students’ social and emotional skills and provide a solid foundation for personal and professional achievements.

The long-term benefits of SEL programs also extend to the development of healthy relationships, effective communication, and emotional intelligence, which are essential skills for navigating the complex social dynamics of modern life. Students who participated in SEL curricula are better prepared to handle interpersonal challenges and maintain supportive social networks, contributing to their happiness and well-being.

How to make the most of SEL in the classroom?

SEL curricula set the foundation for students to succeed in school and beyond by fostering the development of crucial life skills and creating a supportive learning environment. The compelling evidence presented here serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of incorporating Social and Emotional Learning programs into our educational systems, as they have the potential to create lasting, positive change in the lives of students.

When selecting a curriculum, it’s important to consider factors such as ease of implementation and use for educators, learning accommodations for diverse learning styles and cultural backgrounds, as well as the effectiveness of assessment and progress tracking functionalities.

Ori’s SEL curriculum offers you a turnkey solution that requires very little special training to operate, 3 instructional delivery modes, as well as translation to over 100 languages to suit the needs of every student in your classroom. Get in touch with us today to take the next step in unlocking your students’ true potential.

Get a personalized demo of the Ori Learning platform
linkedin

Jon Izak

Jon Izak is the founder and CEO of Ori Learning.