What is SEL?

The South Dakota Statewide Family Engagement Center (SD SFEC) is working to unite students, families, schools, and communities together by focusing on learner needs from “cradle to career.” In this article we focus on social and emotional learning (SEL). 

Teachers and employers agree that SEL offers positive results–at  school and at work. According to the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL), multiple individual and social benefits come from SEL, including academic gains and increased ability to manage stress. CASEL defines SEL as, “the process through which children and adults understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.”

What can families do to support Social Emotional Learning?

What can educators do to support SEL?

What about SEL for high school students and adult learners?

Six of the top 10 workplace skills identified by the World Economic Forum involve social and emotional competence. Companies such as Allstate, Bank of America, and Google are prioritizing SEL. Soft skills, employability, and mental health are closely linked, as mental illness significantly impacts one’s ability to reliably attend work on time and show up with a work-ready attitude every day. 

Research shows that social and emotional learning leads to increased academic achievement, improved behavior, and a strong financial return on investment. For example, according to impact studies from CASEL,and the article, “An update on social and emotional learning outcome research,” (Mahoney, Durlak, and Weissberg),

  • 57% more students in schools with a SEL program improved their skills compared to students in schools without a SEL program,
  • 27% more students improved their academic performance, and
  • 24% more students improved their emotional well-being and social behavior.

And the impact is long lasting: SEL programming can have a positive impact up to 18 years later on academics, conduct problems, emotional distress, and drug use. 

A curriculum focused on developing soft skills created by the Center for Work Ethic Development is being used throughout South Dakota and beyond to help students and adults build foundational workplace skills. The Bring Your ‘A’ Game youth version is being used in schools, and last year, 61 workshops were provided at 43 schools resulting in 1,367 students earning certificates of completion. SD SFEC partnered with the SD Dept. of Labor and Regulation to support this effort with partial funding to purchase the required workbooks. 

The Bring Your ‘A’ Game adult training is offered in South Dakota at no charge to attendees. Find an upcoming workshop near you by visiting this link


[wpv-form-view name="college-career" target_id="810"]


[wpv-form-view name="k12" target_id="829"]


[wpv-form-view name="birth-2-five" target_id="613"]