Committee for Children Blog

The Role of Parents in SEL Assessment: Supporting Your Child’s Social and Emotional Growth

Parents having fun with their child.

A social-emotional learning (SEL) assessment is a means of measuring students’ social and emotional competence, which includes important life skills that help them manage their emotions, build healthy relationships with their teachers and peers, and make good decisions. Because these skills are critical for academic engagement and performance, the results of SEL assessments can be used to support students’ academic growth.

SEL programs offer effective ways to improve students’ social-emotional competency. Once an SEL program is implemented in schools, it’s important to continually assess how the curriculum is impacting instruction and students’ social and emotional development. These assessments give teachers an overview of how students are progressing so they can leverage students’ strengths and identify any gaps or areas for improvement, giving students exactly what they need and making them feel more valued and included in the process. This specialized focus aids in improving student outcomes and helps build confidence.

The DESSA, provided by Aperture Education, is a nationally standardized, norm-referenced, strength-based measure of the social and emotional competencies of students in grades K–12. DESSA assessments can help educators create safe, supportive, and positive learning environments. But this powerful tool doesn’t end in the classroom. Parents can harness this information to support their child’s growth at home as well. By creating SEL consistencies between school and home, parents can cultivate well-rounded children who feel stable across all environments.

Here are some ways you can nurture and expand your child’s social and emotional competencies at home:

  • Listen generously: Listening is a core skill in social-emotional competency. Practice active listening with your child and encourage them to express their feelings and thoughts openly. This not only allows them to share authentically without fear or shame, it helps them to verbalize their emotions in a more thoughtful, rational way so that they don’t become overwhelmed. This can greatly reduce stress in the classroom and in their schoolwork and improve overall mental health. Children need safe outlets to communicate so they don’t bottle their emotions up inside.
  • Be a model of desired behavior: Much of what children learn is by observing their parents or caregivers, so modeling emotionally intelligent behavior at home is crucial. Apologize when you’re wrong and reinforce that it’s okay to fail or make mistakes. This can help keep children from overreacting to failures or being dishonest when they’ve done something wrong. Always treat others with respect and show kindness so your children will emulate that in their own interactions. Sometimes helping your child to strengthen their social and emotional skills is as simple as showing them how to behave. Their worldview begins with you.
  • Foster their self-esteem: Children with healthy self-esteem and self-efficacy perform better in school and are happier overall. Give them age-appropriate responsibilities and show appreciation for their efforts. Even positive reinforcement for simple tasks can go a long way in boosting their self-worth. When you give your child a sense of accomplishment, it can help them feel more confident tackling their schoolwork and approaching new things.
  • Respect their differences: Every child has their own unique talents and abilities, whether it be academics, athletics, creative endeavors, or interpersonal relationships. Resist the urge to compare your child to friends or siblings. Honor their uniqueness and provide encouragement for the inevitable challenges they face. By striving to build an environment of mutual respect, you can help your child feel special and more emotionally resilient.

Above all, show your child that you care about them as a person and not just a test score. Happy, well-adjusted children can ultimately perform better because they’re not worried about how you’ll view them if they don’t earn an A grade every time. They’ll want to do better because they’ll feel good about themselves, and they’ll start to see limitations as opportunities—opportunities you helped create by giving them a solid foundation at home.