Strategies to Create a Healthy and Supportive School Environment
Students can strengthen their emotional well-being by
- Developing the skills to recognize and manage emotions
- Learning to set and achieve positive goals
- Learning to appreciate the perspectives of others
- Establishing and maintaining positive relationships
- Making responsible decisions.
School policies and practices that support development of skills to improve emotional well-being can help meet students’ psychosocial needs.4,5 Creating healthy and supportive school environments strengthen students’ emotional well-being.
Schools can use a variety of strategies to help students improve their emotional well-being and connectedness with others, such as:
- Carefully selecting or thoroughly developing activities that emphasize social and emotional competencies. Schools can identify and implement programs that are developmentally appropriate and culturally relevant for students.
- Integrating skill building, modeling, practice, and assessment that improves emotional well-being and school connectedness across all academic areas. Teachers can incorporate opportunities for students to practice 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. Schools can provide staff training on role modeling and applying interpersonal skills to improve teacher-student relationships.
- Fostering safe, inclusive learning environments for all young people. Schools can establish a culture that emphasizes the importance of showing empathy in relationships, using effective communication, and demonstrating respect for diversity.
- Informing families and communities about school-wide initiatives and activities to promote healthy and supportive school environments and student and staff emotional well-being. Districts and schools can include highlights on their websites detailing healthy and supportive school environment policies and practices and describing how these support student development and achievement to keep families and communities informed.
The following resources provide more information on skills for social and emotional development in schools. They include implementation guides, strategies, and research briefs from many leading organizations in the field.
- ADHD in the Classroom
- CASEL Guide: Effective Social and Emotional Learning Programs
- Boosting Social and Emotional Development In and Out of School
- Choosing and Using SEL Competency Assessments: What Schools and Districts Need to Know [PDF – 744 KB]
- Indicators of School Quality: Social and Emotional Learning [PDF – 134 KB]
- Integrating Social, Emotional, and Academic Development: An Action Guide for School Leadership Teams [PDF – 1.75 MB]
- National Center for School Mental Health
- Safe and Sound: An Educational Leader’s Guide to Evidence-Based Social and Emotional Learning Programs [PDF – 1.8 MB]
- School Mental Health Quality Guide: Teaming
- SEL in Homes and Communities
- Supporting Child and Student Social, Emotional, Behavioral and Mental Health
- 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.
- 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, et al. Enhancing school-based prevention and youth development through coordinated social, emotional, and academic learning. American Psychologist. 2003;58(6-7):466.