Five Ways to Incorporate Social-Emotional Learning in the Classroom or at Home

Social-emotional learning (SEL) is not a new, trendy idea but has been pushed into the spotlight as schools quickly transition to remote learning. Many educators are advocating prioritizing students’ social and emotional wellness over grades and assignments. One thing that experts do agree on is that SEL instruction must be integrated into a school day, whether in a classroom, playground, or at home, rather than handled as its own subject. Here are a few ways to include social-emotional learning into your day using the core CASEL competencies:


Invite children to create their own emoji that shows their current mood or feeling. Take time out of the day to give your child a chance to check in with how he or she is feeling. Is today a good day or a not-so-great day? Allowing children the chance to pause and identify their current emotions will help them better understand the same feelings when they come up later. 


Start a journal. Provide prompts that will help children focus and regulate their thoughts, emotions, and actions. For example, ask children to write about what would happen during the best day they can imagine or invite them to write about a time they helped someone else. Some children may prefer to share their answers orally than write, so provide time for them to think about their response and then share.

When children are overwhelmed mentally, encourage them to focus on their senses instead of thoughts or feelings. Ask them to name five things they see around them, describe their favorite smell, or listen to a relaxing song. You can even create a special “chill” zone in the classroom or home that promotes calmness. 

Social Awareness

Social awareness can be learning about people from different cultures, races, and ethnicities, which might be difficult if your community is just like you. One way to spark that awareness is to read (or listen to) books. A few books to help your child begin or expand their awareness of others are Not a Box by Antoinette Portis, Wonder by R.J. Palacio, Leon and Bob by Simon James, and Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match by Monica Brown.

Relationship Skills

Building relationships is practiced through engagement with others. In classrooms, children can develop these skills by working with partners or in small groups in order to practice leadership skills, conflict resolution, and communication skills. At home, playing a board game promotes communication and conflict resolution and completing a puzzle with your child encourages teamwork.

Responsible Decision Making

Teach children the THINK process for communicating, whether in person or on social media. Before posting or commenting, ask yourself these questions: T—Is it true? H—Is it helpful? I—Is it inspiring? N—Is it necessary? K—Is it kind?

In what ways have you incorporated SEL into your classroom or your home? Every child is different and faces these CASEL competencies in their own way.

To learn about CSA Education’s work with SEL, please email us at