Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)

What is Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)?

Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) involves the process through which children, adolescents, and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. The Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) has identified five clusters of SEL competencies: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making.

CASEL has recognized Lions Quest Skills for Adolescence and Skills for Action programs as exemplary and awarded them with their highest rating, CASEL "SELECT" for:

  • Outstanding SEL instruction
  • Evidence of effectiveness through rigorous research
  • Outstanding professional development

In addition, Lions Quest Skills for Adolescence was awarded the Model Program designation from the Centers for Substance abuse Prevention (CSAP) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA).

The Lions Quest approach to SEL?

In 2011, CASEL and Loyola University published a meta-analysis of 213 evaluation studies of school-based SEL programs in a peer-reviewed journal, Child Development, that showed that when SEL programs are implemented with S.A.F.E. implementation guidelines (Sequenced, Active, Focused, and Explicit instruction), students in the SEL programs scored an average of 11 percentile points higher on standardized tests as well as demonstrating improved commitment to school, less classroom disruption and delinquency, and less depression and anxiety than those who did not participate. In addition to the S.A.F.E. implementation guidelines for SEL programs, CASEL also emphasizes the importance of a systemic, schoolwide approach that engages students, staff, families, and the community in cultivating four key dimensions of high quality SEL implementation: Explicit skills development with repeated opportunities for practice, SEL-infused instruction, SEL embedded in the core curriculum and policies, and a positive classroom and school environment. High quality SEL informs every aspect of school life.

Lions Quest programs reflect these best practices in SEL through:

  • Sequential and flexible K-12 curriculum that focuses on all five SEL competencies
  • Developmentally appropriate skill-building lesson plans that foster SEL skills and dispositions
  • Highly interactive, student-centered instructional design that fosters inquiry, higher-order thinking, collaboration, cooperation, practice, and reflection with language arts focus
  • Interdisciplinary learning experiences that teach, model, and reinforce SEL across subject areas
  • Establishment of a safe, supportive relationship-centered learning community
  • Positive classroom and schoolwide climate and culture support with materials
  • Parent and caregiver materials to support teaching SEL in the home and community
  • Service-learning and civic engagement opportunities threaded throughout the program
  • Home-school-community partnership support with Lions Club members for sustainability
  • Ongoing professional learning to support high quality teaching and implementation
  • Evaluation studies that demonstrate evidence of effectiveness


Kiel, WI middle school students engage in social awareness activities.

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