The Value of SEL Curriculum in Elementary Classrooms

Social-emotional learning, or SEL, curriculum in elementary classrooms is focused on helping students understand themselves and their abilities. The life skills developed often include setting goals, maintaining positive relationships, having empathy and using self-control. An SEL foundation has been proven to support a safe and positive learning environment where all students feel free to share their voices, accept challenges and take risks. It also supports academic outcomes.

Kindness is Contagious

When students receive positive reinforcement from the work they’ve completed or from positive interactions with friends, they grow their sense of self and belonging. Setting up a kindness box gives students the ability to write a note when they notice someone doing something kind for someone else. At the end of the month, the notes can be read aloud and posted on a bulletin board to praise and encourage continued acts of kindness.

Stress Management

Students experience stress in and out of the classroom, and stressors often increase as we grow into adulthood. Students need cope skills for times when they are feeling overwhelmed, but the best time to learn and practice these skills is when they are calm. When students practice specific strategies to manage stress or calm themselves, they will be more resilient as they experience stressful situations and build confidence in their unique ability to overcome life’s obstacles.

Preparing them for Success

SEL curriculum for elementary students lays a foundation for success, including skills of active listening and demonstrating empathy. Active listening is learning to make the conscious effort to hear, understand and retain information that’s being shared. It goes beyond simply listening to the individual words being said. Rather, active listening seeks to understand the emotions that the person may be experiencing. When students work to understand more than just the words being shared, they learn to empathize with others. These skills will continue to benefit them well into adulthood, as both personal and work relationships become more multi-dimensional.

Elementary schools who need more SEL curriculum ideas or programming are invited to visit EmpowerU at for more information.

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