SEL Spotlight: What is SEL anyway?

sel basics Apr 06, 2020

We figured that it was a good time to get back to basics and to make sure that we're all on the same page. So, we've decided to start a new series on our blogosphere where we'll take a moment to get more acquainted with all the juicy bits of SEL. Please swipe right (we mean keep reading).

What does SEL stand for?

You've probably seen the acronym "SEL" around...maybe on school websites, Peachjar flyers, or even in the news. SEL stands for "Social and Emotional Learning." This kind of learning, which is distinctly different from reading, writing, and calculating math problems, involves social skills, knowing about our own emotions and how to manage them, goal setting, and responsible decision making. SEL leads guessed it, greater emotional intelligence (EQ).  Those who believe in and promote SEL stand for raising global citizens who are positive family members, responsible neighbors, contributing citizens, and productive workers. 

Is it all that?

Yes! (and a bag of chips). SEL can often be referred to in many different ways. Whether it's referred to as emotional intelligence or whole child learning, it has become well established that SEL is a critical component in developing knowledgeable, well-rounded, empathic, and reflective kiddos. These skills have such significant future ramifications (think success in college, careers, and life in general) that all 50 states have preschool SEL standards and that national policies exist to provide funding and guidelines for SEL programs. Even some countries have have integrated SEL into learning standards next to academic outcomes.

The Real OGs

The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) organization has been spearheading and prioritizing children's social-emotional development and academic performance for the last 25 years. They conduct scientific research, collaborate with leaders, inform policy, and guide practice. They are the definitive source for SEL and we rely on them to guide our way with our programming. 

A way of thinking

After decades of research and in-the-trenches work, CASEL has offered a 5-domain framework to think about SEL (see below graphic). In essence, they've given us a way to formally understand how thinking, behaviors, and emotions swirl together with interactive magic to influence a child's development (I feel a new Ben & Jerry's flavor coming on). 

These five domains are:

  1. Competence in self-awareness
  2. Competence in self-management
  3. Competence in social awareness
  4. Relationship skills
  5. Responsible decision making


Stay tuned for the next installations of this series, where we spotlight each domain, giving them their own individual attention. 


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