4 Settings Where Learning Is Social and Emotional

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January 9, 2024

Research shows that Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) interventions at school significantly improved skills, attitudes, behaviors, school climate and safety, peer relationships, school functioning, and academic achievements.

What is Social and Emotional Learning? SEL teaches children how to deal with feelings, get along with people, make good choices and handle tricky situations. SEL ensures students are clued in emotionally and ready to handle whatever comes their way. SEL helps students ace exams and rock life outside the classroom.

Social Emotional Learning Key Settings

When discussing the settings where Social and Emotional Learning occurs, it is essential to understand that school is not the only setting where these skills are acquired. According to CASEL, the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning, the leading institution for integrating SEL, SEL should be integrated throughout the classroom, school, home and larger community. These skills are developed through learning experiences and interactions in all the places students live and learn.

SEL in the Classroom

The classroom serves as a crucial Social and Emotional Learning setting by providing a consistent and supportive environment. Teachers help students understand and manage emotions through SEL practices, cultivate positive relationships and make responsible choices. Group projects, discussions and conflict-resolution exercises promote teamwork and interpersonal skills. Integrating SEL into daily routines makes the classroom an excellent space for students to develop the social and emotional competencies essential for academic and life success.

SEL in the School

Schools also play a pivotal role as a critical setting for SEL practices. Through programs such as morning meetings and cooperative learning activities, schools create environments that support self-awareness and positive relationships. Additionally, SEL practices contribute to a healthier school climate, enhancing overall well-being. By emphasizing SEL, schools equip students with essential life skills, preparing them to navigate challenges and succeed academically and socially.

SEL in the Home

Families and caregivers are vital for teaching SEL practices. Parents and guardians lay the foundation for childrens social development by modeling positive behaviors and providing emotional support. Engaging in open communication, resolving conflicts and teaching empathy at home contribute to a childs SEL skills. Family activities that encourage the expression of feelings and values foster emotional intelligence. Families are childrens first teachers. The home environment is a primary context for Social and Emotional Learning

SEL in the Community

Communities are integral settings for SEL practices. Community programs like after-school initiatives, team sports and youth clubs provide platforms for positive social interactions and emotional well-being. By incorporating SEL into local programs, communities can support the development of essential life skills, preparing children to navigate challenges successfully and promoting a culture of empathy, respect and responsible decision-making within the broader social context.

Total Integration

Integrating Social and Emotional Learning into all settings where children live and learn is vital for holistic development. SEL equips children with essential life skills, fostering emotional intelligence, positive relationships and responsible decision-making. By extending SEL beyond classrooms to homes, communities and various learning environments, a consistent approach helps children apply these skills in diverse situations.

This integration supports overall well-being and academic success. It prepares children to navigate the complexities of life with resilience and empathy, ultimately leading to a more balanced and satisfying life.


2023-24 Michigan Teacher of the Year Candice Jackson is a third-grade teacher and instructional coach at Mann Learning Community in Detroit Public Schools Community District. She's been in the Detroit district since 2002 and at Mann since 2017.