Committee for Children Blog

Incorporating Social-Emotional Learning into Academics


by Dr. Kim Gulbrandson

Do you ever feel like there is not enough time in a school day to get through everything? With growing emphasis on academic accountability and success, demands are high, and there can be little class time for things other than academics. Yet, we must make sure students’ social-emotional needs are met to help them meet their academic goals.

Giving students the tools they need to succeed means creating an environment that is supportive of both academic and social growth. Here are some quick and easy ideas for incorporating both into your school day.


  • Have students generate a list of feelings, or a list of solutions to a class problem such as name calling. Then have them count how many they came up with.
  • Give students an example situation and ask them to tell how they would feel in that situation. Tally the various feeling words. Then have students calculate the percentage of people in class that would feel angry, disappointed, etc.

Social Studies

  • Using different historical or current events, talk with students about the perspectives of the different people and groups involved.
  • Pick two historical people and have students identify all that is similar and different between them, or have students pick one historical person and identify all the ways they are similar and different from that person.
  • When talking about different historical situations, discuss with students how the people in these situations may have felt and why.
  • Have students assume different roles of historical characters who were in conflict. Ask them to act out how they would resolve the conflict using skills they learned in class.


  • Read a book with students or have them read a book of their choosing. Then include social-emotional concepts in a writing assignment that includes questions such as:
    • “What problem(s) did the characters encounter during the story, and what could they have done to solve them?&rdquo
    • “How could ___ have shown more compassion toward ___?”
    • “What was ____’s perspective in the story?”
    • “What are some other things ___ could have done to calm down?”
  • Give students a list of feeling words and have them write a story that incorporates these words.
  • Have students write a plan for becoming better learners.
  • Ask students to write about a positive social skill they learned about in class, and to include how they plan to use that skill in school and at home.