Evidence That It Works
A 2011 meta-analysis found that well-designed and well-implemented social-emotional learning (SEL) programs can increase academic achievement and improve student well-being and behavior; however, based on further analysis, some researchers argue that the effect sizes are fairly modest.
To increase the impact of SEL curricula, Harvard’s Stephanie Jones and Suzanne Bouffard point to research that strongly suggests integrating SEL skills into all aspects of school. For example, when skills are practiced on the playground, in the lunchroom, and elsewhere in school besides just the classroom, student behavior improves in these settings.
Why Does It Matter?
Life has a funny way of constantly handing us challenging situations that require SEL skills–no matter what our age and no matter what the context. In other words, cultivating these skills takes a lifetime of practice.
When SEL is expanded beyond the classroom into all areas of school, students have the unique opportunity to start practicing these skills, giving them a head start in facing the inevitabilities of life. The adults in the school benefit as well, as the practice of SEL skills may lower their stress and increase their work enjoyment.