Social Emotional Learning

Learning About Making Friends and Managing Feelings Is as Important to Us as Math and Language Arts.

At Epiphany, we believe effective communication and social emotional skills are critical to an individual’s success and well-being both in and out of the classroom. Research confirms this belief that social and emotional learning enhances academic achievement and overall well-being, whereas the failure to achieve competence in these areas can lead to a variety of personal, social, and academic difficulties.

Jump Ahead
What Is Social Emotional Learning?
Friends & Feelings™ Program
Benefits of Social Emotional Learning
Social Emotional Learning Program Competencies
Why Social Emotional Programs Are Important
Social Emotional Learning Beyond the Classroom
Social Emotional Learning FAQs

For children who move through the world a little differently, we teach them to thrive. Learn about the impact Epiphany has made in the lives of parents and their children:

What Is Social Emotional Learning?

As a social emotional learning school in Charlotte, Epiphany teaches students not only to write persuasively and solve equations but also how to tell when a friend is sad and how to express empathy. Social emotional learning, or SEL, is critical to human development. SEL teaches us how to manage emotions, achieve personal goals, nurture supportive relationships, make responsible decisions, and understand what it means to be an individual.

Since most children begin emotional development at birth, SEL is often overlooked in traditional curricula. However, students with ASD1 and other communications differences need the support of a structured and well-developed social emotional learning program to thrive in the world.

That’s why Epiphany incorporates social emotional learning directly into the curriculum. Time in the classroom is seen both as an opportunity to grow academically and to grow personally. Through role-play and discussion, students learn both the “how” and “why” of social behaviors so that they can chart a successful future.

Friends and Feelings™ Program

The Friends & Feelings™ Program is Epiphany’s official social emotional learning curriculum. Designed by our founder, this proprietary curriculum teaches, models, prompts, practices, and reinforces social communication and emotional skills in three distinct ways:


Direct instruction in our Friends and Feelings™ class, daily


Integration of social emotional learning across all subjects and enrichment classes


Social teachable moments applied and practiced throughout the student’s day

Our Friends and Feelings™ class is fun, interactive, multi-sensory and meaningful. Techniques used include role-playing, games, activities, video, pictures, diagrams, building projects, social stories, and discussion to facilitate learning and practice.

Our Friends and Feelings™ Program incorporates evidenced-based strategies from experts in the field of ASD-1 (formerly known as Asperger’s), Autism Spectrum, and Social Communication, which include the work of Tony Attwood, Jed Baker, and Michelle Garcia Winner. Epiphany teachers are experienced in and receive ongoing professional development in these and other specialized teaching practices.

Target Skills Include:

  • Understanding social rules
  • Reading and interpreting nonverbal social cues
    (e.g. facial expressions, body language, tone of voice)
  • Understanding feelings,
    (mine and others’)
  • Emotional regulation
  • Self-control
  • Flexible thinking
  • Perspective taking
  • Empathy
  • Problem solving
  • Asking for help
  • Conversation skills
  • Cooperation
  • Positive ways to seek attention from others
  • …and so much more!

Benefits of Social Emotional Learning

When students come to Epiphany, they often feel out of place or confused by the world. Many have been bullied by peers or punished by teachers for thinking differently. As an SEL school in Charlotte, we don’t seek to change who these students are. Rather, we want to give them the social emotional tools they need to feel like they belong.  

Social emotional learning can also help students with ASD1 and other communications differences:  

  • Build self-confidence through self-awareness 
  • Understand the perspectives of others and express empathy  
  • Foster positive relationships with peers and adults 
  • Make responsible personal and social decisions 
  • Address negative emotions like depression and anxiety
  • Improve test scores, grades, and attendance 
  • Reduce behavioral problems and risk-taking

Social Emotional Learning Program Competencies

At its simplest, social emotional learning aims to teach a student how to foster and maintain healthy, positive relationships with others. Though SEL is multi-faceted, prioritizing select competencies provides educators with a clear framework from which to teach critical skills that will help students succeed. These five competencies can be applied in the classroom, at home, and more broadly when students graduate and enter the world.

At Epiphany, our daily Friends and Feelings™ class is a dedicated time during which students can explore social rules, interpret social cues, develop problem-solving skills, and ask for help. But social emotional learning is not limited to one class period. Rather, our educators develop every lesson — from a hands-on science lab to a Language Arts seminar — with the SEL program competencies in mind.  

  • Self-awareness: Self-aware children understand their thoughts and how those thoughts affect their behavior. They are self-confident and recognize their strengths. 
  • Self-management: This competency refers to a student’s ability to regulate their emotions and behaviors in different settings. 
  • Social-awareness: Students with social-awareness can understand the perspectives and emotions of others, offering empathy in return. 
  • Relationship skills: Relationship skills allow children to nurture healthy and positive relationships with peers and adults. 
  • Making responsible decisions: Children who are capable of making responsible decisions can identify situations and potential consequences. 

Why Social Emotional Programs Are Important

As an SEL school in Charlotte, Epiphany is one of few educational institutions in North Carolina that offers an evidence-based SEL curriculum. Though social emotional learning is something of a buzzword in current pedagogy, few traditional public schools have the resources to provide explicit SEL instruction. This is a problem for children with ASD1.

While other students begin following social rules early in life, students on the spectrum need more intensive support to develop needed social and emotional tools like expressing empathy and reading facial expressions. Without this extra help, children with ASD1 fall behind in the classroom and in their personal lives. They are more likely to drop out of school and less likely to find successful employment and maintain fulfilling relationships as an adult.

By creating a one-of-a-kind learning environment with policies, practices, and structures that support SEL, Epiphany provides a welcoming space where these students can thrive. In addition to incorporating social emotional learning into all subjects and classrooms, the educators at Epiphany model social and emotional competence for their students.

Social Emotional Learning Beyond the Classroom

At Epiphany, we understand that learning happens both at school and home. With this in mind, we incorporate parents into our learning journey so that we can help children strengthen their social emotional skills as a team. By being a resource for parents, we shine a light on solutions and provide avenues for moving forward.

Learn more about The Epiphany School of Charlotte and our Social Emotional Learning by filling out the form below.

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What skills are taught in SEL programs?

SEL programs focus on teaching social communication and emotional skills that will help students become successful adults. Examples of these skills include: understanding social roles, reading and interpreting nonverbal social cues, and emotional regulation.  

Does North Carolina have SEL standards in place? 

Currently, SEL isn’t required in North Carolina public schools. However, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction is in the process of implementing a social emotional learning model. How well this model is implemented will depend largely on an individual school’s resources. 

How can I help my child with SEL outside of the classroom?

There are many ways parents can encourage social emotional growth at home. However, the best way is by simply modeling the behavior you expect from your child.

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