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ACT for Youth

SEL Strategies and Tools

Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) is not based on prescribed curricula; instead it is an approach that reflects a set of teaching strategies and practices that are youth-centered. Here are several general strategies and tools to promote social and emotional learning.
  • Young people are diverse in their learning styles and needs. It is essential to assess individual learning styles and be flexible in time management to allow for meeting these different needs. Howard Gardner's "Multiple Intelligences" provides a framework.
  • Program activities are more engaging if they are relevant to young people. Identifying and building on young people's individual assets and passions are key strategies.
  • Use teaching techniques that build on young people's current knowledge and skills, such as scaffolding. Provide positive and constructive feedback.
  • Young people need to be active partners in learning. Increase their input and voice through planning and reflection activities. Create meaningful responsibilities and roles for genuine youth engagement throughout programming. Encourage and facilitate young people's shared decision-making through consensus/action planning.
  • Use active learning strategies such as hands-on, experiential, and project-based activities.
  • Help young people learn to use critical thinking and responsible decision making skills. Use active listening skills with youth.
  • Facilitate peer learning and teaching -- collaborative learning.


Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL)

CASEL promotes evidence-based social and emotional learning strategies and programs primarily in school settings. The website contains information about current research, materials for learning activities, and new initiatives.


Dena Simmons: Why SEL Alone Isn't Enough and Why We Can't Afford Whitewashed SEL

In these commentaries, Dena Simmons cautions us that SEL practiced in the absence of racial justice can harm us, and offers "strategies for teaching fearless SEL." Simmons founded LiberatED in 2021 to center healing, justice, and radical love in social and emotional learning so that all children live, learn, and thrive in the comfort of their own skin. ASCD.

Why SEL Alone Isn't Enough

Why We Can't Afford Whitewashed SEL

Are You Ready to Assess Social and Emotional Learning and Development?

The Ready to Assess suite of tools can help practitioners and policymakers decide whether and how to assess conditions for social and emotional competencies, learning, and development. American Institutes for Research.

Assessment Tools

Preparing Youth to Thrive

SEL quality improvement tools and resources for out-of-school-time networks are offered on this website. Forum for Youth Investment and David P. Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality.


Youth Programs Are Important Spaces for Emotional Learning

In this plain-language commentary, Reed Larson and Natalie Rusk discuss the value of emotional skills, present examples on how program staff facilitate emotional skill development, and suggest practices and policies that support emotional learning. Journal of Youth Development.

Commentary and Strategies

Supporting the Social and Emotional Learning of Systematically Marginalized Students in a Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted students from systemically marginalized communities, including students with disabilities, students of color, and students from low-income families. This report recommends actions to promote equitable social, emotional, cognitive, and academic development during a pandemic and beyond. National Center for Learning Disabilities.

Report and Resources

Social and Emotional Learning Practices: A Self-Reflection Tool

This tool is designed to help after-school program staff reflect upon their own social and emotional competencies and their ability to support young people's social and emotional learning through program practices.

SEL Self-Assessment Tool

University of Minnesota Extension: Social and Emotional Learning

This website contains research articles, recorded presentations, and issue briefs by Weissberg, Durlak, and others who have pioneered SEL.

Research and Presentations

Edutopia: Social and Emotional Learning

These videos and blog posts offer educators strategies to help students develop social and emotional skills.


An Ideal Opportunity: The Role of Afterschool in Social and Emotional Learning

This issue brief from the Afterschool Alliance makes the case for implementing SEL in programs outside of school.

Issue Brief