Social and Emotional Learning

Establishing social and emotional skills that provide a foundation for success in school, work and life.

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What is Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)?

Social and emotional learning is a framework that focuses on the core social and emotional skills necessary for students of all ages be healthy and successful. Bridging curriculum and teaching with school policies and collaboration with parents and communities, SEL has five key components: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.

In elementary school, SEL often focuses on helping students achieve key developmental skills, such as the ability to express emotions and establish and manage peer relationships with less support from adults. Through middle and high school, it often shifts to the unique needs of young people in adolescence, such as their search for identity and attitudes toward themselves and others.

When effectively structured and supported, SEL programs have been shown to benefit students in a number of ways—from improving academic performance, to decreasing problem behavior and emotional distress, to helping students succeed in higher education and the workplace. Drawing on RWJF-funded research and programs, this collection includes resources supporting use of SEL approaches to provide every student the foundation for success in school, work, and life.

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Healthy Children

Latest Content


Applying an Equity Lens to Social, Emotional, and Academic Development

June 1, 2018 | Brief

Many students face barriers to healthy social, emotional and academic development, but a range of strategies can help overcome those barriers.


Social-Emotional Development in the First Three Years

April 1, 2018 | Brief

In the first three years of life, children achieve remarkable advances in social and emotional development that establish a foundation for later competencies.


School Climate and Social and Emotional Learning

January 1, 2018 | Brief

Aligning school climate and social and emotional learning, two previously separate concepts, can be integrated in future research to create healthier schools.


Promoting Social and Emotional Learning in the Middle and High School Years

October 1, 2017 | Brief

The effects of social emotional learning on adolescent development appear to be important, but somewhat smaller than those of programs for younger children.


Improving Social Emotional Skills in Childhood Enhances Long-Term Well-Being and Economic Outcomes

June 1, 2017 | Brief

Investing in effective social emotional programs for all children now can increase the number of productive, well-adjusted adults and yield economic benefits in the future.

Social and emotional learning: beyond the classroom

Share an animated GIF to show how SEL programs provide long-term societal benefits that extend far beyond the individual child.