What is SEL?

Social and Emotional Learning

Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process of learning the fundamental skills needed to succeed in life. The SEAK Project advocates and promotes SEL as a way to maintain and improve positive mental health. 

Social and emotional learning has been proven to help children to develop the necessary skills to:

  • better identify emotions
  • develop healthy relationships 
  • make good decisions
  • behave both ethically and responsibly
  • decrease aggressive behaviour

(CASEL, 2017)

Skills developed through SEL

Through social and emotional learning, specific skills are acquired that help children develop into becoming competent and compassionate individuals. The five core areas that socially and emotionally competent children develop include:


Children are able to better recognize, identify, and describe their emotions. They    become more confident and well-grounded.

Emotion regulation

Children are able to better recognize their emotions which deters them from initially exhibiting negative behaviour. They are able to overcome obstacles, manage stress, and control impulses. 

Social awareness

Children are able to better empathize and understand the emotions of those around them. They learn to appreciate others, and know when it is important to seek out help from family, the school, and/or the community.

Healthy relationship skills

Children are able to better understand the importance of cooperation and the benefits of healthy relationships. They can better prevent and resolve interpersonal conflict, and resist inappropriate social pressure that is not exhibited in positive relationships.

Responsible decision-making

Children are able to understand more fully how to make responsible decisions at school, at home, and in the community. They take into account ethical standards, safety concerns, and the appropriateness of norms when making decisions. 

Casel SEL competencies.jpg

Core SEL Competencies (CASEL, 2016)

How should SEL be implemented?

Social, emotional, and academic outcomes are most effective when evidence-based SEL programs are:

• Classroom programs conducted by teachers
• Become part of the routine school practice
• Implementation is well executed with careful planning
• Supported by educational policies, leadership, and professional development
(SEL Research Group, 2010)


  • CASEL. (2016). Core SEL Competencies. Available from: http://www.casel.org/core-competencies/
  • CASEL. (2017, April). Core SEL competencies. Retrieved from: http://www.casel.org/core-competencies/
  • SEL Research Group. (2010, July). The benefits of school-based and emotional learning programs: Highlights from a major new report. University of Illinois at Chicago. Retrieved from http://www.innerresilience-tidescenter.org/documents/Meta-analysis3-pagesummary7-5-10(2).pdf