Frequently Asked Questions

What are social and emotional competencies?

Social and emotional competencies are the skills children use to interact with others, to make and maintain positive relationships, and including how well children can:

  • Understand their own strengths and weaknesses,

  • Understand others’ thoughts and feelings,

  • Solve social problems, and

  • Manage their thoughts and feelings.

Why are social and emotional competencies important?

Social and emotional competencies are associated with success in school and life. Benefits of social and emotional competence include:

  • More positive behavior,

  • Less problem behavior,

  • Better mental health,

  • Greater resilience in the face of challenges, and

  • Better academic performance.

What is the relationship between social and emotional competence and “21st Century Skills”?

The social and emotional competencies we are working to teach children are the 21st century skills that are the foundation for successful careers. Social and emotional competencies are critical to working well in a team, engaging in creative problem-solving, and persevering in the face of setbacks.


Can social and emotional competencies be taught?

Yes. Social and emotional competencies, like reading, math, music, and other skills, can be taught. Participating in high-quality social and emotional learning instruction helps students develop skills that are key to success in school and life.


Can social and emotional competencies be measured?

Yes. Your child completed SELweb, a web-based assessment designed to measure emotional competencies. In completing SELweb, your child demonstrated competence directly by solving challenging social and emotional problems. SELweb measures these key skills:


  • Self-awareness, defined as knowledge of one’s own strengths and weaknesses

  • Self-control, defined as the ability to modify thoughts and feelings

  • Emotion recognition, defined as understanding others’ feelings

  • Social perspective-taking, defined as understanding others’ thoughts

  • Social problem-solving, defined as the ability to respond positively to challenging social situations


What does my child’s report mean?

We have summarized your child’s performance in the attached report, which summarizes how your child performed compared to same-aged peers. Your child’s scores reflect a snapshot at one point in time. For each competence, the report describes three performance levels:


  • Thriving means your child is doing very well in this area and that this is an area of strength

  • Developing means your child is right where they should be for their age

  • Emerging means that your child could use some work in this area

  • Limiting means that this is a concern that must be addressed

How should I discuss this with my child?


We encourage you to be curious, not judgmental. For example DO say, “How well you understand what people are feeling is an area to work on. What do you think about that? Can we work on that together?” DON’T say, “You’re no good at understanding what others feel. I knew it.”


What can parents do to support student social and emotional development?

When strong positive relationships between parents and children support positive social and emotional growth and development. But what are the characteristics of a positive parent-child relationship? Many volumes have been written on this subject. In very broad terms, when parents communicate high expectations and are warm and supportive, this is associated with positive social and emotional development. Harsh, punitive, or dismissive parenting is associated with poorer outcomes.

There are many specific actions parents can take to support children’s social and emotional competence. For example, when a young child is upset, labeling the child’s emotions can help them understand their experience, and learn to manage strong emotions.

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