How Families Can Support Social and Emotional Climate and Learning
The social and emotional climate (SEC) in school includes experiences students have with peers and adults that can affect their emotional well-being, development, and behavior.
Students’ experiences in school influence their mental health and well-being. Many schools are now working to create a positive social and emotional climate to support students’ social and emotional learning.
Parents and families play a critical role in SEL, often being the first to help children develop skills to recognize and manage emotions, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. When families and schools work together, they can help create a safe and supportive environment for children to learn these skills.
Healthy students are better learners. Social and Emotional Climate and Family Engagement are two of the 10 components of the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) model, CDC’s framework for addressing health in schools. The WSCC model emphasizes the importance of supporting the connections between health and academic achievement. Schools can use the WSCC model to improve learning and health.
Schools can use a variety of strategies to support student SEL such as:
- Provide staff training on role modeling and applying social and emotional skills in teacher-student relationships.
- Establish a school culture that emphasizes the importance of showing empathy in relationships, using effective communication, and demonstrating respect for diversity.
- Implement nutrition and physical activity policies and practices that support SEC and SEL, such as providing enough time for students to eat meals, which gives them the opportunity to socialize and connect with peers.
- Engage families to reinforce the skills being taught at school.
Get involved in school decision-making. Ask to join in parent organizations—such as the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) or Parent Teacher Organization (PTO), school health councils, or school health action teams—to help improve the health and well-being of students.
Make communication with school a two-way street. Read school newsletters and attend parent-teacher-student conferences to learn what is going on at school. Ask the school to provide educational opportunities for parents and families. Communicate regularly through emails, phone calls, or meetings to discuss your child’s grades, behavior, and accomplishments. Ask how the school is supporting SEC and SEL and what you can do at home to support their efforts.
Implement simple SEL strategies at home such as:
- Take time to talk to your child, be an active listener, and acknowledge their feelings to model empathy.
- Focus on your child’s strengths before talking about things they can do to improve their confidence.
- Children learn what they see. Model positive coping skills to identify and manage stressful situations. For example, going for a walk or practicing deep breathing exercises can help.