What is SEL?

What is Social and Emotional Learning?

Social and emotional learning (SEL) is about supporting children, youth, and adults in achieving academic,
post-secondary, career, and life success. SEL involves acquiring and effectively applying knowledge, attitudes,
and skills to develop self-efficacy, understand emotions, achieve goals, show empathy for others, establish and
maintain supportive relationships, make responsible and caring decisions and demonstrate behaviors that
contribute to academic success.

SEL is more than just a program or a lesson. It is about ensuring that adults serving children and youth in any setting–classrooms, afterschool programs, home and the wider community–prepare them to succeed in life. Five key skills that are fundamental to life success include:

Self Awareness

The ability to accurately recognize one's own emotions, thoughts, and values and how they influence behavior. The ability to accurately assess one's strengths and limitations, with a well-grounded sense of confidence, optimism and a "growth mindset."


The ability to successfully regulate one's emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in different situations - effectively managing stress, controlling impulses, and motivating oneself. The ability to set and work toward personal and academic goals.

Social Awareness

The ability to take the perspective of and empathize with others, including those from diverse backgrounds and cultures. The ability to understand social and ethical norms for behavior and to recognize family, school, and community resources and supports.

Relationship Skills

The ability to establish and maintain healthy and rewarding relationships with diverse individuals and groups. The ability to communicate clearly, listen well, cooperate with others, resist inappropriate social pressure, negotiate conflict constructively, and seek and offer help when needed.

Responsible Decision Making

The ability to make constructive choices about personal behavior and social interactions based on ethical standards, safety concerns and social norms. The realistic evaluation of consequences of various actions, and a consideration of the well-being of oneself and others.

SEL Community Resources

Palm Beach County's Birth to 22 SEL Action Team has curated free resources to help community members integrate social and emotional learning into their work, services to youth and into their personal lives.