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Prioritize Social-Emotional Learning to Set Ohio Students Up for Future Success

Prioritize Social-Emotional Learning to Set Ohio Students Up for Future Success

By Alison Paxson, Policy & Communications Associate

The research is clear: Social Emotional Learning (SEL) sets Ohio’s students up for future success.

SEL is “the process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions.” (CASEL)

Also referred to as “life skills” or “soft skills”, SEL prepares children to build and maintain positive relationships, excel academically, make responsible decisions, and collaborate in the workplace. Specifically, social emotional learning skill sets are:

  • Self-management, like managing one’s emotions, self-discipline, organization skills, showing initiative, etc.
  • Social awareness, like showing empathy and compassion, expressing gratitude, showing concern for others, thinking about the perspectives of others, etc.
  • Responsible decision-making, like demonstrating curiosity and open-mindedness, considering one’s role in promoting personal, family, and community wellbeing, understanding the consequences of one’s actions, being a problem-solver, etc.
  • Self-awareness, like demonstrating honesty and integrity, having a growth mindset, being aware of one’s emotions, having a sense of self
  • Relationship skills, like communication skills, resisting negative pressure, showing leadership, development positive relationships, cultural competency, resolving conflicts constructively, etc.

While the term “social emotional learning” may seem new, the fact is that SEL has been incorporated into schools in some form since the late 1960’s – as sharing circles and discussion-based activities, conflict resolution role playing, classroom leadership roles and expectation-setting, and other initiatives integrated universally into a child’s school day. Throughout that time, while the terminology has evolved, the research to support SEL in schools has also grown, showing clear benefits to learning, educational attainment, workforce preparedness, long-term health and wellbeing physically, mentally, and behaviorally, and even increased civic awareness and likelihood of participation in military, national, or public service.

The development of these life skills happens both at home and in school – to be successful, children depend on schools and families working together to strengthen, not counter, the supports they receive from the trusted, caring adults in their lives.

We can set Ohio’s students up for success by prioritizing SEL and other family and student-centered approaches to learning our children need.

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