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Social and Emotional Support in Distance Learning

Guidance and resources for educators, educational leaders, and families/guardians in kindergarten through grade 12 (K–12) schools, to provide social and emotional supports during distance learning.

Relationships matter. When educators and students practice physical distancing, it does not mean that they must lose social and school connections. During the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) response, it is critically important to place adult and student wellness first and foremost to establish a positive, safe, and supportive learning environment.

Leading with social and emotional learning (SEL) is essential not only because children need social and emotional support as they, like the adults around them, navigate the unprecedented challenges of alternative learning contexts, but because SEL helps students access academic content through building essential self-management skills, resilience, and connections. To learn more about the fundamentals of SEL, visit the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning website External link opens in new window or tab.. To learn more about the California Department of Education’s (CDE's) SEL Guiding Principles (PDF) and 2018 Guide to SEL Resources (PDF), visit the CDE’s SEL web page.

The resources that follow provide a range of SEL options for educators, administrators and other school leaders, and families/guardians to utilize as they support their students—and themselves—during this time of learning remotely. Please note that while this page refers to many specific resources to support local educational agencies (LEAs) in developing, improving, and extending instruction through their distance learning capabilities, individual LEAs are responsible for assessing the appropriateness of any specific resource prior to implementation.

Self Care for Educators

University of California, Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center External link opens in new window or tab.
Tools for how teachers can navigate difficult emotions during school closures.

University of California, San Diego’s Center for Mindfulness External link opens in new window or tab.
Videos, webinars, and sessions to support mindfulness and compassion.

Be Calm: Self Care for Adults and Youth External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
List of resources on breathing exercises and calming toolkits for adults and youth from Orange County Department of Education.

Barr Center Back-to-School Educator Toolkit External link opens in new window or tab.
A guide with checklists, activities, and suggestions for creating space for self care and intentional connection with colleagues.

Maintaining Strong Relationships and Connections

Edutopia External link opens in new window or tab.
Tips shared by teachers to maintain relationships with students during remote learning.

Institute for SEL External link opens in new window or tab.
Tips to help students find joy and social connection.

Panorama Education External link opens in new window or tab.
Virtual learning resources including virtual check-ins, morning announcements, and notes of gratitude and appreciation.

Supporting School Community Wellness with SEL During and After a Pandemic External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
Pennsylvania State University’s issue brief provides practical strategies, considerations, and additional resources to provide social and emotional support.

SEL Lessons for the Virtual Classroom

Centervention External link opens in new window or tab.
Lessons, activities, and printables in the following skill areas: communication, cooperation, emotion regulation, empathy, impulse control, and social initiation.

Sanford Harmony's Toolkit External link opens in new window or tab.
Classroom discussions, stories, activities, and lessons for teaching understanding and empathy.

Transforming SEL Toolkit External link opens in new window or tab.
General strategies coupled with specific examples for trauma-informed distance learning using the “3 Rs” approach to intervention: Regulate, Relate, and Reason.

Collaborative Classroom Reconnecting and Rebuilding Toolkit External link opens in new window or tab.
Concrete tools and resources to help students and teachers in grades kindergarten through grade six (K–6) reconnect and establish a safe, supportive learning context.

Considerations for all Educators

Center to Improve SEL and School Safety External link opens in new window or tab.
Strategies for trauma-informed distance learning.

Culturally Responsive Education from Culturally Responsive Education Hub External link opens in new window or tab.
Guidance and online resources for culturally responsive, sustaining remote education.

Pure Edge Inc. External link opens in new window or tab.
Strategies, webinars, and other free curriculum for educators and learners to support SEL development through mindful movement and rest.

Teaching Tolerance External link opens in new window or tab.
A trauma-informed approach to teaching through during the COVID-19 crisis.

Principals and School Leaders

Supporting School Community Wellness with SEL During and After a Pandemic External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
Pennsylvania State University’s issue brief provides practical strategies, considerations, and additional resources to provide social and emotional support.

Oakland Unified School District’s Three Signature SEL Practices External link opens in new window or tab.
Learn three practices to create highly engaging, effective, and purposeful meetings and professional learning experiences using three key SEL practices.

Reunite, Renew, Thrive: SEL Roadmap for Reopening Schools External link opens in new window or tab.
This collaborative roadmap outlines four SEL critical practices to keep in mind as school leaders and leadership teams plan to transition back to school. The roadmap offers activities, essential questions, action steps and support tools for each critical practice.

Stanislaus County Office of Education SEL External link opens in new window or tab.
Comprehensive and frequently updated website that aggregates SEL resources for teachers, administrators, and district leaders. Offers information on the five Core Competencies, strategies for SEL in the classroom through a variety of content areas, and recommendations for caring for educators.

District Administrators

CalSCHLS Learning from Home Survey External link opens in new window or tab.
Assess students' social and emotional wellness and connectedness to school to help build an online community that fosters student wellness and learning. The CalSCHLS Learning from Home Survey is a free online tool supported by the CDE to help districts assess students’ and parents’ remote learning experience.

WestEd’s Center to Improve SEL and School Safety External link opens in new window or tab.
View the slides, handouts, and webinar (recording available May 29), Strategies for Districts to Support Self-Care for Educators During the COVID-19 Pandemic, to learn about supporting teachers experiencing primary and secondary trauma.

Parents, Guardians, and Families

American Institutes for Research: Building Positive Conditions for Learning at Home External link opens in new window or tab.
Article, available in English and Spanish, that provides strategies and resources for families and caregivers working at home. The article is also available in Spanish.

California Surgeon General's Playbook External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
Suggestions for ways to reduce stress during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Family Emotional Intelligence Charter External link opens in new window or tab.
Dr. Marc Brackett, of the Yale Emotional Intelligence Center, provides information for how to build your family emotional intelligence charter.

Inside SEL External link opens in new window or tab.
Growing list of resources, blog posts, and other guides to help cope during stressful times.

National Association of School Psychologist: Helping Children Cope with Changes Resulting from COVID-19 External link opens in new window or tab.
Article, available in multiple languages, offers a list of specific strategies for helping students cope with change, as well as links to additional resources.

Sanford Harmony at Home Toolkit External link opens in new window or tab.
Resource hub and toolkit to support social and emotional wellbeing for students and families.

SEL4CA Parent & Child Emotional Survival Kit External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)  
Comprehensive list of resources for families experiencing stress and looking for ways to help children manage emotions.

The National Child Stress Traumatic Network: Supporting Children During COVID-19 External link opens in new window or tab.
Tips to help parents talk with their children about anxiety and COVID-19.

Wellness Together External link opens in new window or tab.
Easy to navigate resource center with webinar, strategies, and multilingual resources to support mental health during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Students

GritX External link opens in new window or tab.
This online platform provides high levels of mental health care, so youth and young adults can thrive, connect, and find resilience and share their own stories, in their own way. The activities help participants get through, get back to, or maintain different emotions.

Help for Students in Crisis
CDE web page with resources for addressing mental health and wellness while school sites are closed.

Webinars

The CDE is hosting a series of webinars to support SEL through distance learning. Below are links to YouTube videos of currently available webinars. The description of each webinar contains a link to the presentation used during the webinar. Resources will be added as they become available.  

Webinar 1: Supporting Social Emotional Learning Throughout Your Systems External link opens in new window or tab.
This August 6, 2020 presentation (PDF) focused on SEL supports for those in leadership positions throughout the education system.

Webinar 2: Establishing and Maintaining Relationships External link opens in new window or tab.
This August 27, 2020 presentation (PDF) focused on relationships for staff and students in a distance learning environment.

Webinar 3: Supporting Social and Emotional Development Outside of School (video not available)
This September 23, 2020 (PPTX) presentation focused on parents and families.

Webinar 4: Engaging Youth and Building Life Skills External link opens in new window or tab.
This October 5, 2020 (PPTX) presentation focused on students and youth.

Questions:   Educator Excellence and Equity Division | CaliforniaSEL@cde.ca.gov | 916-323-6440
Last Reviewed: Tuesday, January 26, 2021
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