© 2014

Social and Emotional Education in Primary School

Integrating Theory and Research into Practice


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xv
  2. Carmel Cefai, Valeria Cavioni
    Pages 1-7
  3. Heart in Education

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 9-9
    2. Carmel Cefai, Valeria Cavioni
      Pages 11-32
  4. Heart in the Classroom

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 41-41
    2. Carmel Cefai, Valeria Cavioni
      Pages 43-80
    3. Carmel Cefai, Valeria Cavioni
      Pages 97-110
  5. Heart in the Whole-School Community

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 111-111
    2. Carmel Cefai, Valeria Cavioni
      Pages 113-131
    3. Carmel Cefai, Valeria Cavioni
      Pages 159-161
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 163-181

About this book


This book synthesizes concepts, findings, and best practices for a complete guide to planning, implementing, and evaluating social and emotional education (SEE) programs. Emphasizing "caught" as well as taught lessons, it offers a whole-school framework for SEE, with content, rationales, assessment tools, and age-appropriate strategies. Interventions are also included for use across subjects, to engage learners and assist students with behavioral and emotional difficulties. And the lessons travel beyond the classroom, involving the whole school, families and communities.

Key areas of coverage include:

  • How SEE can be taught and assessed as a core competence.
  • Classroom and whole school frameworks to enhance SEE.
  • Examples of targeted interventions for at-risk students.
  • Techniques for enlisting parents and communities in supporting SEE.
  • A complete online set of SEE class and homework activities.

Social and Emotional Education in Primary School is an essential resource for scientist-practitioners, educators, and other professionals as well as researchers and graduate students in special and general education, child and school psychology, educational psychology, social work, positive psychology, and family-related fields.


At-risk students and self-regulation Caring classroom communities Core competence and SEE Core subject alignment and SEE Emotional literacy at school Emotional regulation in young children Emotional well-being in children Prosocial behavior in school SEE and school ecology SEE in primary schools SEE learning goals, standards, benchmarks, and indicators Social and emotional education in primary schools Teacher and student assessment

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Dept. PsychologyUniversity of MaltaMsidaMalta
  2. 2.Dept. Brain and Behavioral Sciences Psychology SectionUniversity of PaviaPaviaItaly

About the authors

Carmel Cefai, Ph.D., CPsychol., is the Director of the European Centre for  Resilience and  Health, and Head of the Department of Psychology, at the University of Malta, Malta. He is founding Honoury co-Chair of the European Network for Social and Emotional Competence (ENSEC) and joint editor of the International Journal of Emotional Education. For a number of years he also worked as a school teacher and educational psychologist. He leads a number of international projects on social and emotional education, mental health and resilience in schools, and has numerous publications in the area, including the popular Promoting Resilience in the Classroom: A Guide to Developing Pupils Emotional and Cognitive Skills (2008).

Valeria Cavioni, Ph.D., is an educational psychologist in Italy, and she’s currently collaborating in research and teaching with the Department of Brain and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Pavia in Italy. She is also involved in research projects on wellbeing with the European Centre for  Resilience and Health at the University of Malta. Her field of research is social and emotional learning and emotional wellbeing in nursery and primary schools, and she is presently working on evidence-based programs in this area. She has published various scientific papers, book chapters and participated in numerous conferences on social and emotional development in childhood.

Bibliographic information


“This book cogently summarizes the latest advances in research, theory, and practice for educators who promote the social, emotional, and academic learning of primary-school students. It provides practical tools and strategies that teachers, administrators, and student support staff can apply in daily instruction and programming to enhance students' optimal development and academic performance. This book is a valuable resource for teacher preparation and for professional learning communities of educators.”

Roger P. Weissberg, President and CEO, Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL)

“This extraordinarily compact and valuable book integrates the best available theory, research, and practice internationally and services as an essential resource for practitioners, researchers, and policy makers.  It is rare indeed that one book, in relatively few pages, can accomplish all of these goals.  But Carmel Cefai has done so.”

Maurice Elias, Director Rutgers Social-Emotional Learning Lab, Rutgers University, NJ, USA.

“This book breathes life and vitality  into the  journey for researchers, teachers, and anyone undertaking the challenge of  helping young people flourish in academically and  socially  competent and resilient ways in this modern world.”

Phillip Slee, Professor in Human Development, Flinders University, South Australia.

"This book is a fascinating read because it supports educationalists engaged in teaching, planning and curriculum development. The educationists are informed of the social and emotional processes in education as well as in the formation of socially, emotionally and academically competent and resilient students. The book adopts a comprehensive whole school approach to the teaching of SEE, integrating it into the curriculum and teaching at an individual, classroom and school level. This sits well in our inclusive school climate. Innovatively this book includes SEE interventions with students experiencing difficulties together with an awareness of the emotional life and well-being of teachers and parents in their child’s education. The use of educational checklists enhances and supports self-development of the individual within a whole school community."

Charmaine Agius Ferrante, Malta Review of Educational Research, Vol 8, Issue 1, 2014

“The book’s topic – social and emotional education (SEE) – will not be new to readers. The book seeks to demonstrate that the proposed practice is firmly based on well-established theory.  The book offers a number of strategies, frameworks, and assessment methods which provide a possible curriculum for SEE. They are based on a range of theories and methods that are used with success across several countries. These methods are acknowledged and evidence is given from work carried out. The presentation and style used makes the book accessible to those working in the field.”

Joan Pritchard, Emotional and Behavioral Difficulties, Vol 20, Issue 2, 2014

“Increasing importance is being given by psychologists and educators to the promotion of what has been termed as Social Emotional Learning or Emotional Literacy, or as Cefai and Cavioni calls it, Social and Emotional Education (SEE). Cefai and Cavioni’s book is a most useful gift for educators who would like to get to grips with this new important area of education. This book should be in the hands of every primary school teacher and head of school. This book is the best tool for accessing current expertise on the education of the ‘heart’ in the most compact way.”

Paul A. Bartolo, The International Journal of Emotional Eduation, Vol 6, Issue 1, 2014