Follow us on:

Social and Emotional Learning Approaches

Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is the process through which students develop and apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage their emotions, set and achieve positive goals, understand and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive respectful relationships, and make responsible decisions.

Durlak et al.'s (2011) analysis of 213 rigorous studies of SEL in schools indicates that students receiving quality SEL instruction demonstrated:

  • better academic performance: achievement scores an average of 11 percentile points higher than students who did not receive SEL instruction;
  • improved attitudes and behaviours: greater motivation to learn, deeper commitment to school, increased time devoted to schoolwork, and better classroom behaviour;
  • fewer negative behaviours: decreased disruptive class behaviour, noncompliance, aggression, delinquent acts, and disciplinary referrals;
  • reduced emotional distress: fewer reports of student depression, anxiety, stress, and social withdrawal.

The ACT Education SEL approach is informed by the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning’s ( approach, which identifies the following five areas that effective SEL strategies should cover:

  • self-awareness;
  • self-management;
  • social awareness;
  • relationship skills;
  • responsible decision making.
Friendly School Plus

Friendly Schools Plus logo

Friendly Schools Plus is the first anti-bullying initiative for schools developed through extensive research with Australian children and adolescents. It is recognised nationally and internationally as a comprehensive, evidence-based framework that can reduce bullying behaviour. The Friendly Schools Plus program has been designed to align with both the Australian Curriculum and the National Safe Schools Framework.

Friendly Schools Plus website


Mind up logo

MindUP™ teaches social and emotional learning skills that link cognitive neuroscience, positive psychology and mindful awareness training utilising a brain centric approach.

MindUP™ is a research-based training program for educators and children. Students learn to self-regulate behavior and mindfully engage in focused concentration required for academic success. MindUP™ nurtures optimism, enhances perspective taking, empathy and kindness as well as fostering complex problem solving skills which help resolve peer conflicts and eliminate bullying and aggression.

Goldie Hawn's Vision for MindUP™

PATHS Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies Program

Paths - Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies Program logo

The PATHS program is a comprehensive Social Emotional Learning curriculum that is evidence-based and has been developed and refined through nearly 30 years of research. The PATHS curriculum is used around the world. It offers a common framework for effective SEL instruction from preschool through kindergarten and the primary grades. The PATHS program is grounded in the science of children's brain development, which has determined that children experience and react to strong emotions before developing the cognitive abilities to verbalise them. The program develops social and emotional learning which helps children resolve conflicts peacefully, handle emotions positively, empathise, and make responsible decisions. This improves well-being, academic outcomes, and school climate.

Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies (PATHS) Program

Second Step

Second Step logo

Second Step provides instruction in social and emotional learning with units on skills for learning, empathy, emotion management, friendship skills, and problem solving. The program contains separate sets of lessons for use in preschool through to Year 8 implemented in 22 to 28 weeks each year. The Early Learning Program in Second Step also includes a unit for transitioning to kindergarten. Second Step uses four key strategies to reinforce skill development: brain builder games (to build executive function), weekly theme activities, reinforcing activities, and home links.

Second Step Website