Social-emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and mindsets needed to develop healthy behaviors and emotions. SEL is a critical part of every student’s growth and development, both academically and personally.
Social-emotional skills are a critical foundation to students’ learning and emotional health, so many schools choose to implement an SEL curriculum to act as a guide for students and teachers. SEL can be particularly beneficial for high school students, teaching them crucial skills that support their transitions into college and adulthood and help them become better members of society.
Here are five benefits of an SEL curriculum for high school students:
1. Students gain greater self-confidence and learn to better express their emotions.
As high school students figure out their passions and define who they are in the world, they develop a deeper understanding of themselves. This helps them focus on their positive qualities and skills, improving self-confidence. They also become better able to articulate their personal experience, which leads to more clarity in their emotional expression.
2. Students become better at managing their behaviors and emotions in challenging situations.
Whether students are adjusting with the transition from middle school to high school or from remote learning to in-person, SEL skills help them adapt to challenges. Students also learn how to prioritize what is important to them and gain the perspective that there is more to life than schoolwork.
3. Students develop deeper empathy for their peers and learn to consider different perspectives.
Social awareness leads students to greater empathy and perspective-taking skills. Students learn more about the world around them and begin to consider the differing experiences of others. They also learn to be active listeners, offering space for others to share their perspectives while maintaining objectivity.
4. Students learn to engage in healthy ways with their families, friends, teachers, peers, and other community members.
SEL skills help students express themselves clearly and respectfully. As students get older, the dynamics of their existing relationships often change, and they engage in new types of relationships. Regardless of the nature of the relationship, SEL guides students to cultivate and maintain healthy relationships.
5. Students learn to put deeper thought into their decisions, considering the long-term effects, consequences, and how they will affect others.
Students take more time to consider all of the ramifications of their decisions before taking actions. They think about more than just themselves and are less likely to act in a situation that results in negative consequences for others. Students also learn to reflect upon past decisions, identifying mistakes and learning from them.
SEL is a critical framework to support students, teachers, and school communities. An SEL curriculum can help students develop responsible behaviors and emotional mechanisms, while teachers can benefit from the shared language and communication tactics that make it easier to connect with and support students. When everyone is focused on learning and applying this framework to their education and personal lives, the entire school community benefits.