Social Emotional Learning (SEL)

What is SEL?

Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is the process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions. - (Revised October 2020)

Watch SEL 101: What are the core competencies and key settings?

Why SEL?

Decades of research demonstrates that education supporting social-emotional learning (SEL) leads to positive outcomes. The supporting research comes from various fields and covers multiple domains. The impact of SEL includes academic outcomes, positive attitudes and social behaviors, as well as a reduction in emotional distress and conduct problems.

Learn more about the research supporting The Impact of SEL and watch The Impact of Social and Emotional Learning.


On Friday, March 26th, Loudoun County Public Schools participated in National SEL Day. Thousands of educators, students, community organizers, and individuals celebrated the second annual International SEL Day by showcasing, promoting, advocating and supporting SEL around the globe. The video highlights the impact of SEL in building bonds and creating communities in our schools.

A proclamation was passed by the LCPS School Board to annually recognize and celebrate the last Friday in March as SEL Day.

CASEL SEL Framework

CASEL’s SEL framework fosters knowledge, skills, and attitudes across five areas of competence and multiple key settings to establish equitable learning environments that advance students’ learning and development.

Systemic SEL is promoted across multiple contexts every day. It is more than just a program or a lesson. It is about how the teaching and learning happens, as well as the environment in which this takes place.

CASEL’s widely used framework identifies five core competencies that when prioritized across settings – districts, schools, classrooms, families, and the wider community – can educate hearts, inspire minds, and help students navigate the world more effectively.

Know your strengths and limitations, with a well-grounded sense of confidence, optimism, and a “growth mindset.”

Effectively manage stress, control impulses, and motivate yourself to set and achieve goals.

Understand the perspectives of others and empathize with them, including those from diverse backgrounds and cultures.

Communicate clearly, listen well, cooperate with others, resist inappropriate social pressure, negotiate conflict constructively, and seek and offer help when needed.

Make constructive choices about personal behavior and social interactions based on ethical standards, safety, and social norms.


Second Step is grounded in research and provides an evidence-based curriculum for explicit instruction of social-emotional competencies. All elementary and 13 middle schools in LCPS deliver Second Step lessons and practice activities as the tier 1 core curriculum for social-emotional learning.

Second Step is a holistic approach to building supportive communitive for every child through social-emotional learning.

At the elementary level, lessons are delivered through the new elementary digital program. It is a universal, classroom-based, social-emotional learning curriculum for Kindergarten–Grade 5 that nurtures children’s social-emotional competence and foundational learning skills. Students engage in lessons through 4 units: Growth Mindset & Goal Setting, Emotion Management, Empathy & Kindness, and Problem-Solving.

At the middle school level, students engage in web-based, teacher facilitated lessons and advisory activities to help students build social-emotional skills for learning and life. Learn more about Second Step Middle School.

Family Engagement

Family engagement is a core component to social-emotional learning (SEL) success. The Second Step program provides resources for engaging with families throughout the year, including short, weekly communications tied to each K-8 lesson. Weekly communications have a summary of the lesson topic and a question or prompt that caregivers can use to engage their child in discussions., is a free website for parents and their teens created by the makers of Second Step® Middle School. It's a great resource for middle school families, providing expert advice and practical tools for dealing with real parent-teen issues. Topics include screen time, communication, responsibility, and independence.

The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) is a trusted source for knowledge about high-quality, evidence-based social and emotional learning (SEL). CASEL supports educators and policy leaders and enhances the experiences and outcomes for all PreK-12 students. Through the application of research, practice, and policy, CASEL collaborates with thought leaders to equip educators and policymakers with the knowledge and resources to advance social and emotional learning in equitable learning environments so all students can thrive.

To learn more about CASEL, visit