Your SEL Toolkit: Resources to Improve Family Engagement

Social-emotional learning (SEL) has been used in education for more than 30 years under a variety of names, including emotional intelligence, "social skills" and "life skills." These foundational lessons encourage positive behavioral outcomes, preparing students with the knowledge, skills and attitudes to help them learn and thrive – both now and in the future.

Recently, the term SEL has become part of political conversations, resulting in some misconceptions about what it is and isn't.

With that in mind, we created this toolkit to help schools conduct an informed dialogue about what SEL truly is. We hope these resources aid in building strong partnerships with families and other key stakeholders within your school community through education, engagement and transparency.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us for additional guidance.

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How to Talk to Families About Social-Emotional Learning
Nav360-K12-PPT-052022-Introduction to Social-Emotional Learning-200x260
An Introduction to Social-Emotional Learning for Families
Nav360-K12-EB-041421-Complete Guide to SEL-200x260
The Complete Guide to Social-Emotional Learning

A Brief History of Social-Emotional Learning

Despite the recent flurry of attention, SEL isn’t new. It has served as an essential component of students’ learning since the 1970s. The term social-emotional learning (and the acronym SEL) entered into mainstream education in the mid-90s, when Daniel Golman’s book titled Emotional Intelligence argued that emotional intelligence is as important as IQ.

According to The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), SEL is "the process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions."

  Let's look at examples of social-emotional learning from kindergarten through high school:

Sharing is a prosocial skill that also prompts caring for, cooperating with and helping others. These essential skills serve as the foundation for healthy child development and lead to acting with ethics, showing integrity, identifying values and assuming responsibility as children get older. Research shows that comprehensive SEL programs are linked to the development of positive prosocial behaviors in children.

When students were taught explicit strategies to resolve conflicts and problem-solve, the number of classroom disturbances decrease. In one study, the number of classroom disturbances fell by half. 

Studies show SEL instruction decreases the instances of bullying that both students with disabilities and general education students. 

One study looked at children who completed SEL curricula in kindergarten and found they had a lower likelihood of being involved in juvenile justice, living in poverty and abusing substances as long as 20 years after finishing the program.

Who Is CASEL & Why Should SEL Standards Align with CASEL Competencies?

CASEL — The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning — was founded in 1994 and focuses on five core competencies crucial for effective SEL programs: Self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision-making.

CASEL believes that social-emotional learning isn’t something that only takes place in the classroom; it also occurs when students interact with all the other individuals they encounter during the school day. This includes bus drivers, cafeteria workers, administrators and school nurses, among others. All these individuals have the potential to make a positive impact on students. Additionaly, SEL should incorporate both families and community leaders so that students can talk about the issues they are facing both at home and in the classroom.

More Resources to Explore

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Social-Emotional Learning + CASEL: Aligned for Students, Teachers & Families
CASEL Asset-200X260
SEL with Families & Caregivers (
Your Expert Guide to Supporting the Health & Wellbeing of Students Through  Social-Emotional Learning

6 Ways to Engage Families in a Child's Social-Emotional Development 

Involving families in a school's SEL program is vital to building strong partnerships. Schools can use various tools to educate, engage and communicate with caregivers throughout a child's SEL journey.  

Parents and caregivers are your district's greatest allies, and here's how you can garner their engagement:

  1. Use two-way communication with families by informing them of activities, programs & policies that support your SEL vision
  2. Share regular formal & informal communications about SEL through things like school newsletters & email
  3. Encourage SEL content transparency by implementing family-aligned SEL lessons
  4. Offer volunteer opportunities that align with SEL topics to families both inside & outside the classroom
  5. Facilitate SEL workshops with students, families & school staff that focus on specific topics like emotional intelligence, digital civility & risky behaviors
  6. Involve caregivers in the decision-making process through parent-teacher conferences, committees & surveys

Engagement Resources to Continue Building Strong Partnerships with Families

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Letter to Parents
Nav360-K12-LT-072122-SEL Opt Out Letter-200X260
Opt-Out Form
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Scope & Sequence Overview

Remember the Student's Voice

The challenges today’s youth face are unprecedented and uniquely difficult to navigate for both students and school leaders. The impact these challenges have on students’ mental health are concerning, and if unaddressed, they can be devastating. While debates are taking place at the district level, it’s important to listen to students and what they are asking for to improve their social and emotional health.

A recent poll conducted by Navigate360 & John Zogby Strategies found that:

  • 60% of surveyed teens are concerned about their emotional health
  • 38.5% of teens do not feel their mental health needs are being met at school
  • 57.3% of teens are interested in educational content or short courses to help manage stress & anxiety
  • 55.1% of teens want part of their curriculum to be spent learning about & working on their social-emotional wellbeing

Collaboration & Transparency in Practice: Marion Public Schools Case Study

Marion Public Schools is using Navigate360 Social-Emotional Learning in a variety of ways to serve the needs of students, staff and parents/guardians.

“I personally really like it. The information is valuable, and it comes to us in a way that we understand.”
– Andrea Waver, Marion Public Schools

While students testify to its efficacy, SEL isn’t something that only takes place within the walls of the school. Parents and caregivers are just as involved in the process. With parent-specific modules and a parent portal, Navigate360 Social-Emotional Learning connects families with facility and staff, allowing schools to address the social and emotional needs of the whole child with the community.