The social-emotional well-being of children is a critical component of their overall health. In Cherry Creek Schools, we believe that psychological wellness is achieved by learning essential social-emotional skills and by being able to demonstrate them on a consistent basis. These skills can be taught directly through instruction or indirectly through modeling. Either way, they usually require repetition for mastery and are best taught in the context of supportive relationships and a positive school climate.
A rigorous research base gathered through the Collaborative for Academic and Social-Emotional Learning (CASEL) has shown that these essential skills include:
Self-awareness: Accurately assessing one’s feelings, interests, values and strengths/abilities and maintaining a well-grounded sense of self-confidence.
Self-management: Regulating one’s emotions to handle stress, control impulses, and persevered in overcoming obstacles; setting personal and academic goals and monitoring one’s progress toward achieving them; and expressing emotions constructively.
Social-awareness: Taking perspective of and empathizing with others; recognizing and appreciating individual and group similarities and differences; identifying and following societal standards of conduct; and recognizing and using family, school and community resources.
Relationship skills: Establishing and maintaining healthy and rewarding relationships based on cooperation; resisting inappropriate social pressure; preventing, managing and resolving interpersonal conflict; and seeking help when needed.
Responsible decision making: Making decisions based on consideration of ethical standards, safety concerns, appropriate standards of conduct, respect for others, and likely consequences of various actions; applying decision-making to academic and social situations; and contributing to the well-being of one’s school and community.
Flexible thinking (based in research from the non-profit Think: Kids): Possessing the ability to handle unpredictability, uncertainty and changes; the ability to know how to adjust plans when needed; accurately interpreting information and situations.
CASEL also maintains that schools that create socially and emotionally sound learning and working environments, and that help students and staff develop greater social and emotional competence essentially establish the foundation for a safe and supportive learning environment. In turn, this helps ensure positive short- and long-term academic and personal outcomes for students, and higher levels of teaching and work satisfaction for staff.
Outcomes: CASEL has gathered a body of scientific research indicating that effective SEL in schools decreases students’ levels of emotional distress and conduct problems and significantly improves students’:
SEL improves students’ positive behavior and reduces negative behavior. It promotes young people’s academic success, health, and well-being at the same time that it prevents a variety of problems such as:
Alcohol and drug use
Early sexual activity
SEL is also associated with significant improvements in students’ academic performance and attitudes toward school. A landmark review found that students who receive SEL instruction had more positive attitudes about school and improved an average of 11 percentile points on standardized achievement tests compared to students who did not receive such instruction.
Classroom and school interventions that make the learning environment safer, more caring, better managed, more participatory, and that enhance students’ social competence, have been shown to increase student attachment to school. In turn, students who are more engaged and attached to school have better attendance and higher graduation rates, as well as higher grades and standardized tests scores.
SEL prepares young people for success in adulthood. SEL helps students become good communicators, cooperative members of a team, effective leaders, and caring, concerned members of their communities. It teaches them how to set and achieve goals and how to persist in the face of challenges. These are precisely the skills that today’s employers consider important for the workforce of the future and, in fact, social-emotional skills are shown to be just as important as academic skills for preparing students to successfully make their way in the world.