Home » Childhood Wellness » 4 Reasons Social and Emotional Learning is Essential for Access & Equity
Childhood Wellness

4 Reasons Social and Emotional Learning is Essential for Access & Equity

Photo: Courtesy of Annie Spratt

Most people agree that all children should receive an education that helps them achieve their goals and contribute to their communities. To do that, they need trusting relationships, rich instructional experiences, and opportunities that fully support their learning and development.


Justina Schlund

Senior Director of Content and Field Learning, CASEL

That’s why teachers, principals, parents, and students agree: social and emotional learning (SEL) is essential.

Put simply, SEL is the lifelong process of learning how to understand ourselves, connect with others, set goals, and make caring and constructive choices. In schools, SEL can take different forms. It often involves building positive relationships among students and adults, dedicated time to learn social and emotional skills like perspective-taking, and opportunities to practice reflection and collaboration during academic subjects. So, why is SEL important for access and equity?

1. Every student should have an education that sets them up for success

SEL creates greater access to academic, career, and life goals. Decades of research show that SEL leads to significant benefits: academic gains, improved behavior, and less emotional distress. These benefits continue long-term and can contribute to higher graduation rates, lower poverty rates, and more economic mobility.

2. Every student should get to celebrate their strengths

SEL builds on students’ skills and affirms their cultures, interests, and experiences. When students feel respected and engaged, they learn best. SEL promotes skills that help students better understand their strengths, take action on issues they care about, and appreciate diverse perspectives.

3. Every student needs caring adults

SEL helps adults strengthen practices that promote equity and inclusion. Teachers know that deeper learning happens through meaningful connections with students. SEL provides the tools to better understand students’ perspectives and backgrounds, create inclusive learning spaces, and collaborate on solutions for equity and access.

4. Every student should have a support network

SEL helps schools, families, and communities work together. Students’ learning goes beyond the classroom. Parents are children’s first teachers, and community partners often play a significant role. SEL helps deepen school-family-community partnerships to support young people’s academic, social, and emotional development.

With SEL, we’re able to achieve the best outcomes for all students.

Learn more about how to use SEL for your school’s reopening with our SEL Roadmap and check out our Guide to Schoolwide SEL.

Next article