This article is part of a 3-part series focused on how quality SEL programs benefit students in the short and long term, and how it improves school-wide climate and culture. Read about the long-term benefits of SEL here.
Hundreds of studies show that social and emotional learning (SEL) works. Most teachers agree that social and emotional skills are essential to learning, and teachers, educators, parents, and students have seen the benefits first-hand. SEL leads to improved outcomes and behaviors and helps students and educators succeed.
While it is important to know that SEL helps students develop skills that last a lifetime, educators and students will also see a positive impact from quality social and emotional programs in the short term (i.e. either near immediate impacts or benefits that help students succeed in their K–12 education).
We’ve outlined the short-term benefits of quality SEL programs below.
Development of Social and Emotional Skills
The first benefit of a well-implemented, quality SEL program is that it teaches students social and emotional competence. Students learn the critical competencies — self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making skills — they will need to succeed in school and in life.
13% Gain in Academic Achievement
An impressive body of research shows SEL promotes stronger academic performance. SEL can have a positive impact on students’ standardized test scores and GPAs, particularly in reading and math. In addition, a 2017 metanalysis of 82 SEL interventions involving more than 97,000 K–12 students found the academic performance of students who participated in an SEL program was 13% higher than peers not participating in SEL programs.
More Meaningful Connections with Educators and Peers
Relationships are very important to how we learn. SEL teaches students how to establish and maintain healthy, positive relationships with adults and their peers. This increases students’ motivation to learn, boosts confidence and self-efficacy, improves conflict resolution, and strengthens communication and cooperation.
Improved Attitudes Toward Self, School, and Others
When students have high self-esteem as well as a strong sense of self-concept and self-efficacy, they develop positive attitudes toward themselves and others. These skills are thought to support the development of healthy relationships, a positive connection to school, and help students refrain from negative behaviors such as violence and drug use. SEL helps students develop these important skills.
Positive Social Behavior
In addition to decreasing negative behaviors, SEL also increases positive behaviors. Students learn how to get along with others, demonstrate empathy and compassion, and are more likely to show concern for and try to help others.
Fewer Behavior Incidents
SEL helps students gain awareness of and manage their emotions, work well with others, and make responsible decisions. Students with strong social and emotional skills are less likely to demonstrate disruptive classroom behavior, noncompliance, aggression, bullying, and school suspensions.
Like any educational program, results depend on the quality of implementation of your SEL program. Understanding the short-term benefits of SEL is an important step in getting buy-in from teachers and staff!
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