Social and Emotional Learning

Definition of Social and Emotional Learning

Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) is an umbrella term that refers to students' "acquisition of skills to recognise and manage emotions, develop care and concern for others, make responsible decisions, establish positive relationships, and handle challenging situations effectively" (CASEL).

Briefly it refers to skills to manage self, relate to others positively and make responsible decisions.

Key Domains of Social and Emotional Skills

There are five interrelated sets of cognitive, affective and behavioural competencies in SEL and they are clustered as five key domains of social and emotional skills.

Key Domains of Social and Emotional Skills Description
Self Awareness Identifying and recognising emotions
Accurate self-perception
Recognising strengths, needs and values
Social Awareness Perspective taking
Appreciating diversity
Respect for others
Self Management Impulse control and stress management
Self-motivation and discipline
Goal setting and organisational skills
Relationship Management Communication, social engagement and building relationships
Working cooperatively
Negotiation, refusal and conflict management
Seeking and providing help
Responsible Decision Making Problem identification and situation analysis
Problem solving
Evaluation and reflection
Personal, moral and ethical responsibility

Guiding Principles of SEL

The teaching and facilitation of SEL in Singapore schools is guided by four principles.

  • Principle 1: Values are at the core as they guide and provide the purpose for one’s behaviours. Values refer to the core values that are being explicitly taught in the curriculum. Enactment of actions without grounding in values would lead to inconsistency in purpose and actions.

  • Principle 2: Social and emotional competencies should be taught to students to ensure that they acquire the skills, knowledge and dispositions that will help them face future challenges. The five key domains of skills are Self Awareness, Social Awareness, Self Management, Relationship Management, and Responsible Decision Making. Teaching of social and emotional skills to students can be explicit, through infusion or through teachable moments.

  • Principle 3: Schools play an important role in the teaching of social and emotional skills because school leaders and teachers are important role models of these skills. Furthermore, the school environment is an important enabler of student learning that supports the teaching and learning of social and emotional skills.

  • Principle 4: Children equipped with social and emotional skills, anchored on sound values, will be able to demonstrate good character and citizenship.

Outcomes of SEL

Through SEL, our students acquire skills, knowledge and dispositions to manage self and relationships effectively and make responsible decisions essential for personal and social well-being. Research shows a strong link between SEL and student outcomes in the areas of mental well-being, character development, school success, career success and responsible citizenship.

SEL is a critical part of our students’ learning to prepare them to live and work as adults in the 21st Century. SEL is taught within the Character and Citizenship Education (CCE) curriculum in schools. Together with the core values, SEL form an integral part of MOE’s Framework for 21st Century Competencies and Student Outcomes.

21cc framework

SEL and School Culture of Care

SEL is taught and facilitated in the context of a safe and caring school environment. A key factor of a caring and supportive school environment is positive teacher-student relationship. Where there is positive relationship with their teachers, students perceive they are respected, supported and valued by their teachers. Research is unequivocal on the benefits of positive teacher-student relationship on students’ academic outcomes, social and emotional development and behavioural competence.

The teaching and facilitation of social and emotional competencies, together with positive and supportive relationships within the school community, in particular, teacher-student relationship, support and increase student learning motivation and school success.