Massachusetts - HE K-12 curriculum—SEL (ES): Curricula

Policy Type: 
statute; standard

State law addresses social and emotional learning.

General Laws of Massachusetts Chapter 71. Section 1: Maintenance; double sessions; subjects; twelve-month school year

Instruction in health education shall include, but shall not be limited to: consumer health, ecology, community health, body structure and function, safety, nutrition, fitness and body dynamics, dental health, emotional development safe and healthy relationships with a focus on preventing sexual and domestic violence, and training in the administration of first aid, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Massachusetts Comprehensive Health Curriculum Framework

Social and Emotional Health Strand

Social and Emotional Health includes those aspects of health that are particularly unique to human beings, namely being aware of ourselves, both as individuals and as members of social groups. The knowledge and skills presented in this Strand address and support our ability to interact with others in positive and socially acceptable ways.

The Strand of Social and Emotional Health includes:

  • Mental Health

  • Family Life

  • Interpersonal Relationships

Mental Health includes information for personal development of knowledge and skills as well as social awareness as it relates to attitudes and behaviors. Being able to identify feelings and emotions that are common to everyone and explore how people are affected physically and emotionally by these feelings are important aspects of emotional health.

Family Life focuses on the importance of the family as a basic unit of society and the many responsibilities within a family.

Interpersonal Relationships helps students to understand that people do not live in isolation from others and therefore the ability to achieve healthy relationships is critical.

The Social and Emotional Health Strand is designed to promote skills that students need in daily life as they come to learn about their identity and how to manage interactions with other people. Supporting the development of a broad concept of the self enables students to understand the struggle to achieve success and to manage stress appropriately. Students understand how others can help them establish realistic expectations of success for them. The purpose of this Strand is to provide students with the opportunity to develop a positive sense of self and to understand their place in relationships with peers, family, and community members.
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

Massachusetts Comprehensive Health Curriculum Framework

Interpersonal Relationships:

Interpersonal Relationships focuses on the importance of sound and stable relationships with other people with whom individuals share their lives, such as family, friends, co-workers, and community members. Communication skills are an essential component to help build safe and long-lasting relationships throughout the life cycle. Equally important are character attributes such as respect and responsibility, which are essential for healthy personal development, caring interpersonal relationships, and a humane and democratic society.

Instruction in Interpersonal Relationships facilitates students’ understanding that very few events in life occur in isolation from other people, so the ability to achieve healthy relationships is critical for well being. This is especially true for major life events such as starting school, going away to college, entering the workforce, marriage, or child rearing. Students learn about the different kinds of relationships that people can have, such as neighborly relationships, family relationships, peer and friend relationships, and romantic relationships. Instruction in Interpersonal Relationships highlights the recognition that each person has internal personal choices and decisions to make regarding relationships, as well as providing the knowledge about the many external factors that can affect those relationships. Skills and strategies to relate to others as well as the recognition of the contribution of personality and good character to relationships can be learned through health education programs that address Interpersonal Relationships. Topics generally covered in Interpersonal Relationships include: Communication, Peer Relationships, and Romantic Relationships.

Note: Please see parental notification law in Appendix B.

PreK–12 Standard 7: Interpersonal Relationships

Students will learn that relationships with others are an integral part of the human life experience and the factors that contribute to healthy interpersonal relationships, and will acquire skills to enhance and make many of these relationships more fulfilling through commitment and communication.
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

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