Why Social and Emotional Learning Must Be Integrated With Academic Learning

This post will be brief, but persuasive.    It is clear that there is an inextricable link between Emotional, Social and Academic learning.   A compelling new study was recently published in Child Development magazine.  Authored by researchers from Loyola University and the University of Illiniois of Chicago, the analysis of more than 200 school-based, universal social and emotional learning (SEL) programs involved over 270,000 K-12 students.  Compared to controls, “SEL participants demonstrated significantly improved social and emotional skills, attitudes, behavior and academic performance that reflected an 11-percentile-point gain in achievement.”  This is a powerful conclusion.

As the authors stated, emotions can facilitate or impede children’s academic engagement, work ethic, commitment, and ultimate school success.   So as my friend and colleague Michael Horn from the Innosight Institute talks about the need to improve motivation in schools, perhaps educators and policy makers should take a hard look at the need to embed social and emotional development into the classroom environment.   Many of these low achievers have a number of adverse factors stemming from their family structure, and as we are witnessing first-hand in the Atlanta Music Project, providing SEL programming will undoubtedly lead to increased motivation, and ultimately, learning outcomes.

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