Social Emotional Learning

Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. (Definition from CASEL.)

CASEL’s widely used framework identifies five core competencies.

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-management
  • Social awareness
  • Relationship skills
  • Responsible decision-making

“SEL concepts provide an extra dimension to education, focusing on improving cooperation, communication, and decision making. In a world where emotional intelligence is critical for lifelong happiness, successful careers, and healthier relationships, SEL gives students a framework for developing these skills.” (Second Step

There are hundreds of curriculum options related to emotional intelligence and social and emotional learning, but there are also simple things you can do at home.

  • Help your child establish trusting relationships with family, friends, neighbors and caregivers.
  • Show warmth and affection even when you or the child are having a bad day or the child is misbehaving.
  • When reading books with your child discuss the emotions of the characters, what their facial expression looks like and why they may feel that way.
  • Label the emotions that your child sees family and friends expressing.
  • Model appropriate behavior. 
  • Set intentions with your children.
  • Learn basic mindfulness techniques together.
  • Teach kids self-regulation using music.


The Southington Public School District is implementing RULER, an evidence-based approach to social and emotional learning (SEL) based out of Yale University, that teaches emotional intelligence to people of all ages, with the goal of creating a healthier, more equitable, innovative, and compassionate society.

In March 2021, the ECCS and SPS presented a RULER Emotional Intelligence webinar for Southington Families which can be viewed on the ECCS YouTube channel.

In February 2023, a presentation on Social Emotional Learning and RULER was part of the Kindergarten Readiness Workshop. It was provided by Melissa Barbuto, Principal, Strong Elementary School and Rebecca Cavallaro, Director of Pupil Personnel Services. View the SPS Kindergarten Readiness – Social Emotional Learning and RULER PowerPoint slides.

In Southington Schools, you will find tools developed for RULER such as the Mood Meter. The Mood Meter helps us be aware of and understand how we and those around us are feeling. You can watch a webinar from Yale to help learn how to implement the Mood Meter at home at the link

Other RULER tools that you may hear your child talk about are the Charter, the Meta-Moment and, for older students, the Blueprint used for conflict resolution.

More information about RULER and these tools can be found on the District’s Emotional Intelligence webpage at


Big Heart World

SEL is at the heart of children’s early development. The CT Office of Early Childhood collaborated with Noggin and Sparkler on Big Heart World, a new initiative to help parents, caregivers, and educators grow kids’ big hearts. Find music videos, co-play activities, podcasts, and more — rooted in the science of social and emotional learning — at

  1. Educator Guide

  2. Their parent and caregiver guide, which is available in English and Spanish

  3. They have a podcast and accompanying discussion guide (the guide is in English and Spanish), in which a teacher talks with kids about feelings and SEL

Follow Big Heart World on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.