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The Long-Term Impact of Social Emotional Learning

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Social emotional learning (SEL) programs have been used in schools since the 1970s, when the concept of SEL and the importance of teaching students social and emotional skills first gained popularity. Early programs from the 70s and 80s provided the foundation for modern SEL programs. In 1994, the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) was founded. By the mid-2000s, social emotional learning was proven effective through research that demonstrated positive student outcomes, including academic achievement, which fueled widespread adoption. Today, CASEL continues to play a pivotal role in the advancement of SEL. School Day embeds CASEL standards in our curriculum, and our society is benefiting from a generation of students who have been exposed to SEL programs throughout their education.

The Lasting Impact of SEL

Social emotional learning (SEL) programs have gained significant recognition for their positive effects on students' development. But what about the long-term impact? Research indicates that the benefits of SEL extend far beyond the primary years and have a lasting influence on students as they transition into adulthood.

Improved Emotional Intelligence

SEL programs focus on helping children understand and manage their emotions, empathize with others, and develop healthy relationships. As students engage in SEL activities, they acquire these essential skills, which continue to serve them well into adulthood. Adults with strong emotional intelligence are better equipped to handle stress, communicate effectively, and build meaningful relationships.

Enhanced Decision Making and Problem Solving

SEL programs help students learn to make responsible choices and resolve conflicts in a constructive manner. They develop decision-making skills that prove invaluable as they grow older. Adults who have received SEL training are more adept at assessing situations, making thoughtful decisions, and finding solutions to complex problems.

Greater Self-Awareness and Self-Regulation

SEL programs teach students to be self-aware, to recognize their emotions and behaviors. They also learn strategies to regulate their emotions and responses. These skills become lifelong assets as adults, helping them manage stress, navigate challenges, and maintain emotional wellbeing. Self-aware adults are better equipped to set and pursue meaningful goals in their personal and professional lives.  

Improved Interpersonal Skills

SEL programs emphasize the importance of positive relationships and effective communication. Students who participate in SEL activities develop strong interpersonal skills. They are more empathetic, have better conflict resolution abilities, and can build and maintain healthier relationships with family, friends, and colleagues.  

Early SEL Programs Lead to Long-Term Professional Success

 Research has shown that students who engage in SEL programs tend to perform better academically. These improved academic skills can lead to better opportunities in the future. SEL-trained adults often excel in teamwork, leadership, and collaboration in the workplace, which can lead to career advancement.

The long-term impact of social emotional learning on students is profound. The skills and values instilled during childhood contribute to the emotional intelligence, decision-making abilities, interpersonal skills, academic and professional success, and mental wellbeing of students as they grow into adulthood. SEL-trained adults are better equipped to face the challenges of the modern world and lead fulfilling, productive lives. Investing in SEL programs for students not only benefits them in the short term but also lays the foundation for stronger communities in the future. 

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