Committee for Children Blog

Time to Get Excited about Social-Emotional Learning!


It's that time again. Another school year is right around the corner, which means more opportunities to affect the lives of the many children we work with by giving them the guidance, modeling, and support they need to develop an array of skills for lifelong success. The work we do to support youth in developing their capacities to empathize, cope, manage emotions, and problem solve reminds me of the proverb: “Give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you will feed him for a lifetime.”

As we gear up for the upcoming school year and continue planning to lay the foundation for children to become knowledgeable, responsible, and caring adults, I wanted to share a few SEL highlights to energize you as you begin 2015–2016:

  • Results from a Penn State study were just released, suggesting that kindergarteners with good social skills are more likely to become successful adults. Researchers followed more than 700 children from kindergarten to age 25 and found that social skills may even be better predictors of future success than academic ones.
  • The Middle and High School Edition of the CASEL (Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning) Guide for Effective Social and Emotional Learning Programs was recently published.
  • Rutgers University is now offering a Certificate of Direct Instruction in Social-Emotional Learning and Character Development.
  • The House and Senate are now trying to come together in a conference committee to settle differences in their proposed revisions to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Both the House and Senate bills contain some positive language related to SEL and non-academic skills, so SEL supporters will be working hard to try to preserve that language.
  • Committee for Children updated its Research page, which includes information about current studies, program outcomes, and SEL benefits.

Consider sharing some of this exciting information as you begin the year with a Second Step refresher training or generate renewed enthusiasm for SEL among your colleagues. It may also prove useful as you make the case for the need for SEL to your administration or present to your board for funding approval.

I leave you with this quote by Martin Luther King, Jr., which speaks to the importance of supporting our youth in developing social and emotional competencies: “Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.”