The building blocks of learning

Why is social and emotional learning, abbreviated SEL, important, and how does it benefit children in and out of school?

The challenge


What we heard from teachers and administration at after implementing Tools at

The building blocks of learning


No items found.

The process

Committee search to choose the right curriculum

Selection of Tools of the Mind curriculum & professional development

Tools training and implementation for all relevant staff

Teaching and learning review and outcomes

What is social and emotional learning?

The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) describes social and emotional learning as the way that children form “healthy identities,” learning to “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.”

These aren’t ad hoc skills that can be drawn upon when needed. These are the building blocks of learning that all children (and adults!) need to grow into successful students, workers, friends, parents, and community members. They are at the core of human development. And teachers and educators can support this development from a very young age and in very specific and strategic ways. 

Social and emotional learning in the classroom

CASEL advocates integrating social and emotional learning into all PreK-12 education settings. But how schools and teachers approach SEL matters. According to Practice Integration Specialist Tyrone Martinez Black, effectiveness depends on strategies being “integrated into every aspect of instruction. 

This is exactly what we do at Tools, which is why Tools earned a CASEL SELect designation, recognizing us for providing high-quality SEL opportunities for all students. Tools approach to social and emotional learning and development is that it is the underpinning of everything that happens in the classroom. Tools teachers don’t make time for self-regulation and emotion management in their classrooms. It’s what they do all the time

How do we know it’s working?

Through activities designed to engage children in multiple interactions with peers, Tools children learn to manage their emotions and establish positive relationships. They develop skills to communicate effectively, express their ideas and opinions to others and pay attention to what others say to them. Through these interactions, they build positive connections, practice empathy, and grow the skills that allow them to learn effectively, increasing their ability to focus their attention and self-regulate. 

The payoff of learning in this way is monumental. As teachers scaffold children’s developing self-regulation, children demonstrate increased confidence and motivation and grow into empowered, self-directed learners. They are enthusiastic about tackling new challenges that come their way. They are ready to learn.   

In the classroom, this manifests as a community of regulated learners who show fewer challenging behaviors, are able to follow rules and resolve disputes on their own, readily take turns with peers, and persist willingly at demanding tasks. 

As you can imagine, a classroom of regulated learners has benefits that extend well beyond individual children to classmates, teachers, and families as well. 

Click here to learn more about creating a community of regulated learners.