Toolkit for Schools: Engaging Parents and Families to Support Social and Emotional Climate and Learning

This toolkit was created to help raise parent awareness about social and emotional climate (SEC) and social and emotional learning (SEL) in schools, and why family engagement both in and out of school is so important. It is a resource for CDC Healthy Schools partners, education leaders, and other school health champions.

Partners and schools can use this toolkit to let parents and the community know that schools are recognizing the mental health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on children. Schools are working to create a positive SEC to increase resiliency and improve students’ overall health and academic achievement. This toolkit includes background information, sample social media posts, graphics, a sample pre-recorded message script, and newsletter text.


What Are Social Emotional Climate and Social Emotional 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.

School leaders can create a positive SEC to help make teaching and learning effective. This approach will also help students improve their social and emotional learning (SEL), which includes:

  • Managing emotions.
  • Setting and achieving positive goals.
  • Feeling and showing empathy for others.
  • Establishing and maintaining positive relationships.
  • Making responsible decisions.

Read more about Social and Emotional Climate.

Why Family Engagement Is So Important

Family engagement is critical because research suggests that evidence-based SEL programs are more effective when extended into the home1,2. Parents and families can recognize that they play an important role in their child’s mental health and well-being —even if they’re not using the terms SEC and SEL. They can help their child build the skills described as part of SEL. Parents and other family members are often the first to help children develop skills to recognize and manage emotions, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. Schools can work with parents and families to educate them about SEC and SEL and engage them in supporting SEL in school. They can encourage parents and family members to reinforce the skills taught to students.

Healthy Students Are Better Learners

Because healthy students are better learners, CDC has developed a framework for addressing health in schools, the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) model. Social and Emotional Climate and Family Engagement are 2 of the 10 components of WSCC. The WSCC model emphasizes the importance of each component in supporting the connections between health and academic achievement. School programs can use the WSCC model to promote positive health behaviors.

Get more  information about the WSCC model.