June 8th, 2021

Inclusive Social Emotional Learning for Students with Disabilities


Learning and developing as a student is about more than just memorizing facts, being able to read and write, or solving math problems. Research shows that students learn best when they actively engage with content and with others in positive and meaningful ways. Students must also grow in areas of social and emotional development. Social-emotional learning (SEL), is the process through which students learn to cope with feelings, set goals, make decisions, and get along with — and feel empathy for — others. SEL is an embedded part of a whole child education, which is an approach that prioritizes the full scope of a child’s needs.

Unfortunately, students with disabilities are often not fully considered in SEL initiatives. NCLD has been working hard to change the course of SEL to ensure it is developed in a way that is inclusive and equitable. We are excited to announce the release of these resources to help ensure more inclusive and equitable SEL. This work builds on the previous report co-authored with 7 other organizations: Exploring Intersectionality: Understanding Student Identity to Promote Equitable Social Emotional & Academic Development During the COVID-19 Pandemic.  The new resources feature 7 principles for inclusive SEL, a parent advocacy toolkit, a state policy brief, and two case studies showcasing inclusive SEL practices.

SEL can be particularly beneficial for students with disabilities as it emphasizes relationships and social interactions, helping students to develop a sense of safety and belonging. In addition, distance learning has taken a heavy toll on students and families. SEL is important to rebuilding classroom relationships upon returning to in-person instruction and must be included to foster students’ social, emotional, and mental health needs.

We hope you will join us in creating more inclusive and equitable SEL initiatives by using these new resources.


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