New research from the University of British Columbia, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Loyola University has found that learning about social and emotional issues offers long lasting benefits for children.
Learning about social and emotional issues has immediate beneficial effects for children. This type of learning teaches kids how to recognize their emotions and emotional needs. It also helps them to understand the emotions of others and how to build healthy, long-lasting relationships.
Previous studies have found that the students who receive social-emotional education have reduced levels of anxiety and behavioral issues and an overall improvement in their learning than those who do not. These are only the immediate positive effects that have been found in children and teens who have gone through a social-emotional learning program. Researchers at the University of British Columbia, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Loyola University desired to look at the long-term effects these programs can have as children grow into teens and eventually adults.
Do we continue to practice these learned skills throughout our lives? Or, do we leave them behind when we move into early adulthood and beyond? Is the payout worth the financial investment that schools put in when introducing such a program into their curriculum?
This new research considered many of the same questions. The researchers looked at 82 programs across the U.S. and Europe. They analyzed the results of over 97,000 students between kindergarten and middle school ages. They examined the effects of the social-emotional learning six months after the completion of the program and many years down the line.
The results of the research were incredibly positive. The benefits of the programs were seen in the time immediately following their completion and also well into adulthood for most participants. “Students who participated in programs graduated from college at a rate 11 per cent higher than peers who did not. Their high school graduation rate was six per cent higher. Drug use and behavior problems were six per cent lower for program participants, arrest rates 19 per cent lower, and diagnoses of mental health disorders 13.5 per cent lower.”
The results did not vary based on race, school location, or socioeconomic status. All students benefitted equally from participating in the social-emotional learning. Including these kinds of programs directly in school curriculums has the best chance of reaching the most students. As shown by this and other research, these programs vitally important for giving students the skills and tools they need to make decisions and navigate social and emotional issues throughout their lives. These types of social-emotional learning programs equip children to succeed in the short and long-term.