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We Are All in the Same Boat - Fostering SEL at Home

In a recent post, we explored the meaning and benefits of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) for students, teachers, and society as a whole. To ensure the success and effectiveness of SEL curricula, it is essential to have the support of the entire community, including parents and other caregivers. By educating them about SEL and providing specific ways to integrate it at home, they can reinforce the actions taken by schools. In this article, we will discuss some strategies that families can use for this purpose.

Research has shown that parental support has a positive impact on the social and emotional learning of children. Studies have found that when parents provide guidance in this area, children develop stronger social skills, improved emotional regulation, and perform better academically (Cenușă, M., & Turliuc, M. N., 2023; Roy, M., & Giraldo-García, R., 2018). This positive impact is even greater when it is consistent with what children are learning at school, reinforcing the SEL skills they are taught.

Mealtime conversations, playtime, watching media, and decision-making involving the whole family are some of the scenarios where parents can integrate SEL activities into their daily routines. Here are some specific strategies to make this process work:

- Encouraging open communication and active listening: As we saw in a previous article about talking to kids about mental health, it's crucial for parents to practice and model active listening during conversations with their children. Instead of being judgmental, parents should validate their children's emotions and experiences, offering support and understanding.

- Modeling positive behavior and emotions: Children observe and imitate the behavior and attitudes that are expressed by their parents and other family members. Therefore, it is important for parents to model positive behaviors and emotions such as patience, kindness, optimism, and coping strategies for managing frustration. When parents model these behaviors, children are more likely to learn and adopt them.

- Teaching problem-solving and conflict-resolution skills: Parents can teach kids how to identify the problems or conflicts they are experiencing and brainstorm possible solutions together. They can use techniques and skills such as communicating assertively, using "I" statements, negotiation, or compromise.

- Practicing empathy and perspective-taking: There are various activities that can help us do so, for instance, discussing different points of view in books, movies, or real-life situations or having conversations about how our behavior may impact other people's thoughts and feelings, and vice versa.

- Fostering gratitude and kindness: Parents can encourage each family member to share something they are thankful for during mealtimes or before bedtime, for example. They can create a gratitude jar or use a journal to record their reflections. Additionally, it is beneficial to set an example and practice acts of kindness together, such as helping someone or caring for our community.

To sum up, the benefits of SEL are more likely to be achieved when there is a strong and steady partnership between schools and families. The different stakeholders can collaborate to promote effective communication, empathy, positive behavior, gratitude, and other valuable skills. It is important to remember that we are all working towards the same goal of helping children succeed, and every small effort can make a difference.


  • Cenușă, M., & Turliuc, M. N. (2023). Parents’ Beliefs about Children’s Emotions and Children’s Social Skills: The Mediating Role of Parents’ Emotion Regulation. Children, 10(9).

  • Roy, M., & Giraldo-García, R. (2018). The role of parental involvement and social/emotional skills in academic achievement: Global perspectives. The School Community Journal, 28(2), 29–46.

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