Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) is an approach to education that focuses on developing the social and emotional skills of students to help them become successful in school and in life.1 The principles of SEL include:

1. Self-awareness

Self-awareness involves understanding one’s own emotions, thoughts, and values. This principle helps students identify their strengths and weaknesses, which can lead to increased self-confidence and self-esteem. An example of how self-awareness can be applied in a real-world situation is through journaling, where students can reflect on their thoughts and emotions and gain a better understanding of themselves.

2. Self-management

Self-management involves regulating one’s emotions and behaviors in different situations. This principle helps students learn how to control their impulses, manage stress, and set and achieve goals. An example of how self-management can be applied in a real-world situation is through mindfulness practices, where students can learn techniques to manage stress and regulate their emotions.

3. Social awareness

Social awareness involves understanding and empathizing with others, including their emotions, perspectives, and backgrounds. This principle helps students develop empathy and compassion for others, which can lead to better communication and relationships. An example of how social awareness can be applied in a real-world situation is through community service projects, where students can learn about and help people in their community who may be facing challenges.

4. Relationship skills

Relationship skills involve building and maintaining positive relationships with others. This principle helps students learn how to communicate effectively, resolve conflicts, and work collaboratively. An example of how relationship skills can be applied in a real-world situation is through group projects, where students can practice communication, collaboration, and conflict resolution skills.

5. Responsible decision-making

Responsible decision-making involves making informed and ethical choices based on one’s values and goals. This principle helps students learn how to think critically, weigh the consequences of their actions, and make decisions that are in line with their values. An example of how responsible decision-making can be applied in a real-world situation is through a classroom discussion on current events, where students can practice critical thinking skills and learn how to make informed decisions.

Benefits of Social-Emotional Learning

Research has shown that social emotional learning can have many benefits for students, including:

  • Improved academic achievement2
  • Increased social and emotional competence3
  • Better behavior and reduced disciplinary incidents4
  • Increased motivation and engagement in learning5
  • Improved mental health and well-being6

Overall, social-emotional learning can help students develop the skills they need to succeed in school and in life, and can lead to better outcomes for individuals and society as a whole.


  1. Durlak, J. A., Weissberg, R. P., Dymnicki, A. B., Taylor, R. D., & Schellinger, K. B. (2011). The impact of enhancing students’ social and emotional learning: A meta-analysis of school-based universal interventions. Child development, 82(1), 405-432. 

  2. Sklad, M., Diekstra, R., Ritter, M. D., Ben, J., & Gravesteijn, C. (2012). Effectiveness of school-based universal social, emotional, and behavioral programs: Do they enhance students’ development in the area of skill, behavior, and adjustment?. Psychology in the Schools, 49(9), 892-909. 

  3. Greenberg, M. T., Weissberg, R. P., O’Brien, M. U., Zins, J. E., Fredericks, L., Resnik, H., & Elias, M. J. (2003). Enhancing school-based prevention and youth development through coordinated social, emotional, and academic learning. American psychologist, 58(6-7), 466. 

  4. Skrzypiec, G., Slee, P., Askell-Williams, H., & Lawson, M. J. (2017). A meta-analysis of the effects of social and emotional learning on student outcomes in school. Psychology in the Schools, 54(3), 252-272. 

  5. Elias, M. J., Zins, J. E., Weissberg, R. P., Frey, K. S., Greenberg, M. T., Haynes, N. M., & Shriver, T. P. (1997). Promoting social and emotional learning: Guidelines for educators. ASCD. 

  6. Jones, S. M., & Bouffard, S. M. (2012). Social and emotional learning in schools: From programs to strategies. Social policy report, 26(4), 1-33.