Social & Emotional Learning

CPF programs encourage connection to place, which engenders empathy and builds social and emotional intelligence.  Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to: 1) Understand and manage emotions; 2) Set and achieve positive goals; 3) Feel and show empathy for others; 4) Establish and maintain positive relationships; and 5) Make responsible decisions.

SEL is increasingly recognized as an important factor for success in school, and many schools are beginning to implement programming that explicitly teaches SEL.

Research shows that garden-based and experiential, outdoor learning  – which provide the foundation for much of CPF’s programming –  have the following impacts on the five core competencies of SEL:


  • Improves self-esteem and self-confidence
  • Helps youth translate experiences in the garden to insight in their own lives


  • Develops a sense of ownership and responsibility
  • Improves life skills (working in groups, self-understanding, leadership, decision-making, communication and volunteerism)
  • Improves ability to self-direct and complete tasks without close supervision

Social Awareness

  • Improves social skills and behavior

Relationship Skills

  • Improves social skills and behavior
  • Improves interpersonal relationships
  • Improves family relationships and increase parental involvement

Responsible Decision Making

  • Improves attitudes toward school (students with better attitudes toward school show a decrease in risky behaviors)

Taking learning outside of the classroom  can create an atmosphere of adventure and novelty that allows an increased level of vulnerability.  This gives students the opportunity to expand social and emotional intelligence in ways not always possible within the confines of a traditional classroom.