Social and Emotional Learning Information

Parent Information for Social and Emotional Learning

What is social and emotional learning (SEL)?


Social-emotional learning is defined by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, Emotional Learning (CASEL) as the process by which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to:


  • understand and manage emotions
  • set and achieve positive goals
  • feel and show empathy for others
  • establish and maintain positive relationships
  • make responsible decisions

Why is Culpeper County Public Schools adopting a SEL program in Pre-K through 8th grades?

Today’s youth live in a vastly different world than that of their parents when it comes to social interactions and maintaining their emotional well-being. In response, schools across the nation are adopting SEL programs. Feedback from teachers and parents, which is supported by school climate surveys, discipline data, and the Culpeper Youth Risk Behavior Survey, indicate a growing need for students to have explicit instruction in the knowledge and skills addressed by SEL programs. This includes increased self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision-making.

Research shows that when implemented with fidelity, SEL programs can show an increase of 11-13 percentile gain in academic learning for students (Durlak, Wiessberg, Dymnicki, Taylor, Schellinger, 2011). In addition, the competencies of SEL are associated with the Virginia Profile of a Graduate.  This reinforces skills Virginia employers say are needed in the workforce.  

When will the SEL lessons be taught to students?

The school board adopted one of the oldest and most effective SEL programs, called Second Step. The Second Step program consists of lessons that will be taught to all students though the times may vary by school. These skills and strategies will be reinforced throughout the year. There are family activities for parents to use at home, if desired.

What it is not?

Social and Emotional Learning is not Family Life education.  There are topics that use similar references such as “identity”.  In Family Life, this term may reference sexual identification.  In SEL, this refers to social cliques and associations.  Do students associate themselves with a social group?  The SEL curriculum assists students in recognizing that making friendships are important while understanding the role of group dynamics. 

How does SEL support a positive school climate?

When students are taught lessons in developing proper social and emotional skills, schools can expect to see fewer violations of the code of conduct. More positive interactions and relationships between students and staff will develop while preventing bullying between students. Students with difficulty in self-regulation will learn strategies to help them be more focused on learning.

Learn more by going to Second Step’s website: https://www.secondstep.org/  or reach out to your child’s school administration team who would be happy to answer any questions you may have.