Social Emotional Learning

Our Vision is that every NKSD student is confident, competent, creative, and compassionate, prepared for a world yet to be imagined. Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) is a part of our strategic plan to achieve this vision. Social and Emotional skills help students manage academics, school life, work, and life beyond school.

In adopting the Social Emotional Learning K-12 Standards for Washington State, State Superintendent Chris Reykdal stated, "Social-emotional learning teaches the whole child and leads to the development of powerful learning habits that include essential skills such as emotional management, collaboration, communication, and responsible decision-making. SEL skills impact both the readiness to learn and the ability to benefit from learning opportunities."

At NKSD, we have reviewed the research on SEL and learned that students who participate in SEL do better academically, have a positive attitude toward school, have an increase in positive behaviors such as kindness, sharing, and empathy, and have more skills to manage stressful situations.

This type of learning is focused on

  • making responsible decisions,
  • setting and achieving positive goals,
  • maintaining healthy relationships,
  • managing emotions, and
  • showing empathy for others.


Elementary Schools

To kick off the 2020-2021 school year, our elementary schools have a new set of tools to help support social-emotional learning called RULER. RULER is an evidence-based approach for integrating social and emotional learning into schools, developed at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. RULER applies “hard science” to teaching what has historically been called “soft skills.” RULER teaches the skills of emotional intelligence — those associated with:

  • Recognizing emotions in ourselves and others
  • Understanding the causes and consequences of emotions
  • Labeling emotions accurately
  • Expressing emotions in accordance with cultural norms and social context
  • Regulating emotions effectively

Using the RULER approach, our staff is learning about tools that will be introduced to students as the year progresses. Tools include the Mood Meter, a school and class Charter, Meta-Moments, and the Blueprint. These four tools and other SEL strategies help set up a positive learning environment.

Through RULER, students learn to understand and regulate their emotions, communicate with others, and use compassion and empathy to understand other people's needs.

To learn more about RULER, ask your student, contact their teachers, or check out the website:

Middle and High Schools

Our middle and high schools are excited to announce the addition of Character Strong, a program focused on essential character traits and social-emotional skills that help our students be more successful.

Essential Character Traits

  • Patience
  • Kindness
  • Humility
  • Respect
  • Selflessness
  • Forgiveness
  • Honesty
  • Commitment

Social-Emotional Skills

  • Self-Awareness
  • Self-Management
  • Social Awareness
  • Responsible Decision Making
  • Relationship Skills

Character Strong combines lessons provided by our teachers, Character Dares, and other interactive activities to get students thinking and learning about SEL. Each week, our students will be given the opportunity to learn about a trait or skill, challenges to try out these skills, and time to reflect on how it is working for them.

To learn more about Character Strong, ask your student, contact one of their teachers, or check out the website