Social and emotional learning is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, to set and achieve positive goals, to feel and show empathy for others, to establish and maintain positive relationships, and to make responsible decisions.
It is essential to create a welcoming, participatory, and caring climate to enable healthy and productive social and emotional learning.

The process requires a systemic approach that involves everyone, from the students to the teachers, to school leaders, family members, and community partners. To be effective, social and emotional learning must be part of daily life in the classroom, within the school and the community, where positive working relationships, student engagement, and constructive behaviours are fostered and modeled. Teachers, parents and community members are supportive, and students are inspired and engaged, care about one another, and work together to solve problems.
Students exposed to SEL do better on a number of indicators: positive social behaviours and attitudes, skills as varied as empathy and teamwork, and academics. They have fewer behaviour problems and less emotional distress. They show an increased ability to manage stress and depression, and have better attitudes about themselves, others, and school.