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Why Is It Important To Teach SEL in Schools?

January 18, 2023
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Schools across the nation are experiencing challenges like never before. Rising mental health issues, teacher burnout and shortages, and students feeling unprepared for life after high school are just a few of the challenges that schools are struggling to address. Unfortunately, we’re learning that a reactive approach to these issues is just not cutting it. In this post, we address why it is important to teach SEL in schools and how it can help schools move to a more proactive approach.

What is SEL?

Social-Emotional Learning, or SEL, is the process through which individuals:

  • Develop healthy identities
  • Feel and show empathy for others
  • Manage emotions
  • Achieve personal and collective goals
  • Establish and maintain supportive relationships
  • Make responsible and caring decisions

In short, SEL skills are essential life skills that students need to be successful in school, at home, and beyond.

Why Is SEL necessary?

1. Mental health issues are at an all-time high.

Since the start of COVID-19, schools have struggled to meet the rising mental health needs of their students. This year, NCES reported that 70% of public schools have seen a rise in the number of students seeking school-based mental health services and 76% have experienced an increase in staff voicing concerns about depression, anxiety, and trauma

Based on these findings, there is a need for students to be able to develop healthy coping strategies, understand their emotions, and communicate their needs to others.

While SEL programs do not replace mental health services, it can foster a sense of community, belonging, and support that can help improve a student’s sense of self and well-being. 

2. Educators are burnt out.

Not only are mental health issues on the rise, but behaviors such as disruptions, tardiness, chronic absenteeism, and aggression are as well. This has left educators feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and burnt out. In turn, school districts are experiencing mass vacancies across all positions. 

Educators are in desperate need of strategies that make classroom management easier. Research from CASEL shows that SEL can improve classroom behavior, academic performance, attitudes towards school, and can reduce stress.

When these factors are proactively addressed, schools can begin creating more positive learning environments where educators feel supported and students feel connected to their peers and teachers. 

3. Students Aren’t Prepared

Recent high school graduates are experiencing a lack of soft skills necessary for postsecondary success. The ability to communicate effectively in groups, persevere through ambiguous or challenging situations, and meet personal goals are all SEL skills students need to thrive in adulthood.

To combat these post-graduation skill deficits, SEL should be built into the school day and prioritized even at the high-school level to better prepare students for their future, whether they move on to higher education or pursue employment upon graduation.

SEL programs, like Everyday Speech, can help students begin to develop these skills as early as preschool. In fact, CASEL states that kindergarteners who are stronger in SEL competence, are more likely to graduate high school, complete a college degree, and obtain stable employment.

Where do you go from here?

Making SEL a priority and core element of your school’s curriculum can help you to proactively address some of the challenges you are facing and experiencing. Everyday Speech is dedicated to providing evidence-based, no-prep Social-Emotional Learning resources to meet the needs of every student in both general and special education settings. 

Whether you’re an educator or administrator, we’d love to have you try out our PreK-5th grade CASEL-aligned SEL curriculum. Sign up for a free trial and learn more!

Be sure to keep an eye out for more information on our brand new Middle and High School SEL curriculum coming in the fall of 2023!

Related Blog Posts:

How do Everyday Speech Resources Support Social-Emotional Learning?

How to Teach SEL as a General Education Teacher

How to Cultivate an SEL Community at Your School

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