Social and Emotional Climate

Social and emotional learning (SEL) is a developmental framework, the process through which individuals develop the skills to recognize and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, appreciate the perspectives of others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.3,4,5

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


Strategies to Support SEL
Children with protective face masks drawing in preschool

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:

School Nutrition and the Social and Emotional Climate and Learning

School-Based Physical Activity and the Social and Emotional Climate and Learning