Social and Emotional Climate
Time spent at school gives children the opportunity to engage with peers and adults and develop skills to enhance their social and emotional experiences. Addressing the social and emotional climate is an important part of creating healthy schools that support student health and academic performance.1
School policies and practices that support social and emotional learning (SEL) can help meet the needs of the psychosocial aspects of students’ educational experiences.1,2
Schools can use a variety of strategies to support student SEL, such as:
- Thoroughly selecting or developing curricula that emphasize SEL competencies. Schools can identify and implement programs that are developmentally appropriate and culturally relevant for students.
- Integrating SEL skill building, modeling, practice, and assessment across all academic areas. Teachers can incorporate opportunities for students to practice SEL skills and develop competencies such as establishing positive relationships and understanding diverse perspectives through group learning activities.
- Strengthening teacher, staff, and administrator core competencies through professional development. Providing staff training on role modeling and applying social and emotional skills in teacher-student relationships supports the adoption and integration of schoolwide SEL practices.
- Fostering safe, inclusive learning environments for all young people. Establishing a school culture that emphasizes the importance of showing empathy in relationships, using effective communication, and demonstrating respect for diversity is important to maintaining positive social and emotional school climates.
- Engaging families and communities in school-wide SEL initiatives and activities. Districts and schools can include highlights on their websites detailing SEL policies and practices and describing how SEL supports student development and achievement to keep families and communities informed.
School nutrition and school physical activity policies and practices can support SEC and SEL:
The following resources provide more information on social and emotional climate and SEL in schools. They include implementation guides, strategies, and research briefs from many leading organizations in the field.
- 2015 CASEL Guide: Effective Social and Emotional Learning Programsexternal icon
- A Guide to Federal Education Programs That Can Fund K-12 Universal Prevention and Social and Emotional Learning Activities pdf icon[PDF – 934 KB]external icon
- Boosting Social and Emotional Development In and Out of Schoolexternal icon
- Choosing and Using SEL Competency Assessments: What Schools and Districts Need to Know pdf icon[PDF – 744 KB]external icon
- Indicators of School Quality: Social and Emotional Learning pdf icon[PDF – 134 KB]external icon
- Integrating Social, Emotional, and Academic Development: An Action Guide for School Leadership Teams pdf icon[PDF – 1.75 MB]external icon
- National Center for School Mental Healthexternal icon
- Safe and Sound: An Educational Leader’s Guide to Evidence-Based Social and Emotional Learning Programs pdf icon[PDF – 1.8 MB]external icon
- School Mental Health Quality Guide: Teamingexternal icon
- Schools, Families, and Social and Emotional Learning: Ideas and Tools for Working with Parents and Families pdf icon[PDF – 689 KB]external icon
- SEL in Homes and Communitiesexternal icon
- Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). What is SEL? website. https://casel.org/what-is-sel/external icon. Accessed March 17, 2020.
- Greenberg MT, Weissberg RP, O’Brien MU, Zins JE, Fredericks L, Resnik H, Elias MJ. Enhancing school-based prevention and youth development through coordinated social, emotional, and academic learning. American Psychologist. 2003;58(6-7):466.
- Catalano RF, Berglund ML, Ryan JA, Lonczak HS, Hawkins JD. Positive youth development in the United States: research findings on evaluations of positive youth development programs. Prevention & Treatment. 2002;5(1):15a.
- Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development [ASCD]. Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child website. http://www.ascd.org/programs/learning-and-health/wscc-model.aspxexternal icon. Accessed March 17, 2020.
- Melnick H, Cook-Harvey CM, Darling-Hammond L. Encouraging Social and Emotional Learning in the Context of New Accountability. Palo Alto, CA: Learning Policy Institute; https://learningpolicyinstitute.org/product/encouraging-social-emotional-learning-new-accountability-reportexternal icon. Accessed March 17, 2020.