How to Determine the Best Social Emotional Curriculum

Selecting a social emotional curriculum can be overwhelming and feel like you’re getting sold. In this post, we’ll discuss some key elements for selecting an appropriate social emotional curriculum.

Social Emotional Competencies
The five social emotional competencies from CASEL.

CASEL Certified Social Emotional Curriculum

The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) is the agency that reviews social emotional curriculum to ensure it is evidence-based and creates intended outcomes for students.

Some schools and school districts require that any social emotional curriculum taught at the school is approved by CASEL. It is a good first step to check with administrators or district leadership about CASEL certification.

Here is a link to all CASEL certified programs, as well as a comparison tool.

Target Audience

Determining your target audience is a great next step. Here are some considerations I take into account for determining small groups of students.

Picking curriculum might vary based on the size of your group or the level of MTSS intervention you are targeting. If you are developing lesson plans for a whole class or even a grade level cohort, you may select a more universal group rather than basing it on specific skills.

Social Emotional Curriculum to Teach Desired Skills

Most curriculums have several targeted skills. For example, the Superflex curriculum specifically targets social awareness and flexible thinking. Check back soon for a toolkit of interventions for the five social emotional competencies.

Some social emotional curriculums help serve a specific audience that typically have struggles in that area. For example, Social Behavioral Mapping and Personal Space Camp are great for students with Autism, as both tools help to teach expected versus unexpected behaviors and impacts of our behavior on others.

Length of Time Needed to Implement the Curriculum

Curriculum varies greatly on how much time is needed to implement it with fidelity. Some curriculum, like Second Step need several weeks or even months to implement.

It also depends on how much time you as a provider have to dedicate to the curriculum. If you have your own classroom and can build in the curriculum throughout the day, it may take less specific “teaching” but require more time to integrate the interventions.

Some mental health providers have monthly or quarterly themes. This is a great way to use multiple curricula around the same targeted skill. However, if you are trying to incorporate specific language from one curriculum, it may take a little more work to adjust the theme to fit that language.

Whichever social emotional curriculum you choose to use, I hope you and your students enjoy the great year ahead!

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