Making whole-child education the norm

This policy brief describes research and policy initiatives that can make social and emotional skills a focal point in children’s education. The authors review the literature on how social and emotional skills develop, and how they are important drivers of cognitive skills, school, and life outcomes. The brief then discusses the role of educational policy in the implementation of nurturing social and emotional skills. The brief closes with research and policy recommendations that help form a systematic and broad agenda for including social and emotional learning in schools for all children.

Content Comments 

This well-organized article is written for those at the state and federal levels who can support and fund educational research and policy initiatives. After laying out a strong argument about the benefits of social-emotional skills and the need to nurture these skills in students, this brief provides a logical sequence of recommendations for policymakers. The recommendations are to: better define and measure social and emotional skills; design broader curricula to promote these skills; ensure that teachers’ preparation and professional support are geared toward developing these skills in their students; revisit school disciplinary policies (which are often at odds with the nurturing of these skills); and broaden assessment and accountability practices to make the development of the whole child central to education policy. Each recommendation includes real-world examples that illustrate how the recommendation has been (or can be) implemented.