Social and Emotional Learning

The Foundation to Youth's Success in School, Work and Life

Social and emotional learning refers to both a core set of competencies and a process of learning whereby adults and youth learn the skills, attitudes and values to manage themselves, their relationships and their tasks effectively and ethically. Over the last decade a growing body of research has expanded the understanding that learning is a social process and therefore, relationships and emotions are central to the learning process. Schools and youth programs that focus on developing these core competencies and creating learning environments that are safe, caring and highly participatory will be the most effective in creating positive outcomes for youth.

A growing body of research and an increasing concern about the mental well-being of young people have resulted in the Illinois Children’s Mental Health Act. This act required the State Board of Education to create new SEL learning standards and all school districts to submit policies for how they will address the social and emotional needs of all students.

Research from a recent meta-analysis (a study of studies) on after school programs also shows that incorporating SEL creates greater positive outcomes for youth (Durlak and Weissberg, 2007).

A statewide interdisciplinary University of Illinois Extension SEL committee is working to bring the latest research to schools and community youth organizations through informational presentations, research briefs, trainings and technical assistance. Check back in the near future for updates.