Social Emotional Health is Essential for 21st Century Learners

Article by Melissa E. DeRosier, PhD, founder of 3C Institute

Researchers and educators alike have identified skills like ‘critical thinking,’ ‘collaborating,’ and ‘leadership’ as vital for success in school and the workplace in the 21st Century. Similarly, students must be skilled in self-regulation, self-awareness, and relationship skills to achieve under Common Core State Standards. A knowledge base of facts, formulas, and information is no longer sufficient—today’s learners must be socially and emotionally healthy.

Social and emotional learning (SEL) is not an add-on or ‘would-be-nice’ any longer—SEL is the foundation upon which academic success is now built. To solve problems, you need to take time to weigh options, gather facts, and not jump to conclusions. To work together in a group—say on a science project—you must be able to communicate clearly, cooperate with one another, and negotiate when there are disagreements. And to be a leader, you need to be able to engage with others, take their perspective, and make persuasive arguments. Social skills such as empathy, impulse control, communication, and cooperation are at the heart of children’s ability to perform these necessary tasks.

We know from decades of research that when schools deliberately attend to the social emotional health of students and embed SEL into the daily routine, safer, more productive learning environments are created and students are in a much stronger position to be successful. For more information about how you can bring effective SEL into your school, visit and

Melissa E. DeRosier, PhD, is the founder of 3C Institute which creates research-based social emotional learning tools in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Education. She has over 20 years of experience working with the NC schools to help prevent bullying and improve the health and wellbeing of students. She can be reached at or 919-677-0102, ext. 511.