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Social and Emotional Skill Lessons You Can Use at Home

Whether you’re a parent, teacher, counselor, or administrator, we’re all grappling with how to best keep our families safe and our children learning from home. One way we’re working to proactively respond to rapidly changing needs, while also providing helpful resources to keep learning and career growth on track, is through Social and Emotional Learning (SEL).

Social and emotional skills are important for a broad range of reasons, especially in times of uncertainty. Social and emotional skills are key to academic growth and personal well-being. They focus on the identification and management of one’s emotions, goals, and mindsets.
What are social and emotional skills?

ACT focuses on five social and emotional skills for learners:
  • Grit: persistence, goal striving, reliability, dependability, and attention to detail at school
  • Teamwork: collaboration, empathy, helpfulness, trust, and trustworthiness
  • Resilience: stress management, emotional regulation, a positive response to setbacks, and poise 
  • Curiosity: inquisitiveness, flexibility, open-mindedness, and embracing diversity
  • Leadership: assertiveness, influence, optimism, and enthusiasm

Over the past five weeks, ACT’s SEL Curriculum and Assessment team (Mawi Learning™ and ACT® Tessera®) have discussed different social and emotional skills and provided downloadable lessons and worksheets that students can do at home with teachers (virtually) or parents to practice these skills. We’ve highlighted a few of those here.


Resilience describes how well you manage stress, regulate your emotions, and respond to setbacks. It can help you deal with the uncertainty of current events. You may be feeling worried and anxious about the COVID-19 pandemic. You are certainly not alone in feeling this way. Worry can be an adaptive tool, which signals that a change is needed. It can prompt you to develop plans and creative solutions to problems. However, excessive worrying can be problematic.

Help yourself and your loved ones get through this by practicing your resilience skills:

  • Be mindful. Mindfulness, also known as meditation, can help you focus better, relieve stress, and boost your mood.
  • Be clear on what you can and cannot control. Worry often preys on things that are outside of a person’s control. Make a list of the things that are within your control and refer to that list when you are feeling worried.
  • Write about your feelings. Research has shown that even 10 minutes of writing can help reduce anxiety.
  • Give your emotions a name. We are all experiencing a wide range of emotions right now. It is normal to experience these emotions and identifying and discussing them can help alleviate feelings of stress.
Read the full blog on resilience and download the full lesson.


Grit includes persistence, reliability, attention to detail, and goal-striving. A hallmark of grit is persevering, particularly when things get tough. COVID-19 is creating adversity for all of us, and developing grit can help you deal effectively with this adversity. Here’s how:

  • Think about your goals. Even during tumultuous times, we can remain focused on our goals and/or set new goals that are consistent with what is meaningful to us. If we think critically about why we have certain goals in place, we are better able to evaluate which goals are really important and then will be more likely to achieve those goals.
  • Overcome obstacles. Events like COVID-19 are bound to interfere with plans and goals. Rather than feeling discouraged and giving up, it’s important for us to figure out ways to overcome the obstacle or “roadblock.”
  • Manage your time. Particularly when our schedules are disrupted, and we don’t have a structured schedule to follow, it’s easy to waste time and feel unproductive or unfocused—or even worse, spend a lot of time worrying. To avoid this, it’s helpful to track how we spend our time and become familiar with time management tools.
  • Plan how you will achieve your goals. Research shows that we are more likely to achieve our goals when we unpack them into smaller goals and create a reasonable timeline for reaching each sub-goal.
Read the full blog on grit and download the full lesson.


Another social and emotional skill that can help us get through this difficult time is leadership. Leadership is defined as the extent to which a person’s actions demonstrate assertiveness, influence, optimism, enthusiasm, and social interaction with others.

You can work to demonstrate leadership at this time—to advocate for things that are necessary to reduce the spread, to stay optimistic despite trying circumstances, and to be a leader others look to for guidance and support.

  • Reach out (and really listen) to others. Just because social distancing calls for cutting off physical contact with others, this doesn’t mean that social connection needs to end. Take this time to check in and connect with those closest to you—friends, family members, colleagues—and engage in meaningful conversations with them.
  • Try to find the silver linings. Even when things go awry, it is always possible to try to find the positives in every situation. We challenge you and your students to find positives in every situation, including the pandemic.
  • Speak up. Being able to communicate assertively about your needs and the needs of others is key right now. Learn how to confidently communicate effectively, while remaining respectful to others.
  • Encourage others. It is likely that you and others have faced some challenging circumstances by now, but it’s important to find ways to lift one another up.
Read the full blog on leadership and download the full lesson.

We are all feeling some effects of the current situation, which may last for a while; that’s the bad news. Here we offer good news: By practicing the social and emotional skills, you can better navigate these unstable and unstructured times.

If your schools and districts are looking for more formal social emotional learning curriculum, ACT | Mawi Learning™ is pleased to offer free access to select student curriculum programs until June 30, 2020. Courses are available for grades 6-12, as well as a specialized program for English Learners. Core SEL lessons and tools, like relationship building and goal setting, are covered in each course.

Be sure to check out all of ACT’s COVID-19 resources for students, parents, educators, advocates, and the workforce at

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ACT is a mission-driven, nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people achieve education and workplace success. Grounded in 60 years of research, ACT is a trusted leader in college and career readiness solutions. Each year, ACT serves millions of students, job seekers, schools, government agencies and employers in the US and around the world with learning resources, assessments, research and credentials designed to help them succeed from elementary school through career.