Updated: Nov 22
As a former Early Childhood Educator and Director, I have always noticed a lack of
social-emotional support materials in the classroom. Teachers do their best in supporting Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) by incorporating learning practices in the curriculum. However SEL should be integrated as part of the physical learning environment and should have a center dedicated to it just like math, literacy and science, allowing for a safe space for children to learn about their emotions and how to label, express and manage them.
What Is Social-Emotional Learning (SEL)?
SEL is the process by which people, both children and adults, develop the knowledge,
self-awareness and personal well-being to build the emotional competencies that help them thrive in both academics and life.
According to the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL):
“SEL is the process through which children and adults understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.”
What Is The Early Childhood Social-Emotional Learning (ECSEL) Initiative?
The Early Childhood Social-Emotional Learning (ECSEL) Initiative works to promote
social-emotional hands-on materials in the classroom to provide prevention and early intervention for children's mental and emotional health.
This initiative encourages classrooms and playrooms across the nation to include a SEL center equipped with hands on materials to allow for children to have access to tools that help them manage their emotions, self-regulate and learn how to build essential coping skills.
To kickstart this initiative, we are building a pilot program to have a few classrooms build SEL centers for the upcoming school year of 2022-2023. To support this program, we will be donating materials, with the help of other partners, to equip an entire classroom center that is devoted to social-emotional learning along with a training program on how to use the materials with the children.
What is the relationship between SEL and mental health?
SEL can be one of the most proactive initiatives for mental health illness prevention. Research indicates that focusing on social-emotional needs can help reduce anxiety, suicide, substance abuse, depression, and impulsive behavior in kids. This concentration can also help to increase test scores, attendance, and prosocial behaviors such as kindness, personal awareness, and empathy.
Positive social skills give children viable tools to regulate their emotions and make good choices about their behavior. Teaching kids coping skills, mindfulness, effective communication skills, and self-regulation gives them the resources needed to address various social, emotional, and mental health challenges that hinder learning.
How does this initiative benefit children and their mental & emotional health?
Social emotional learning activities give kids the tools they need to deal with challenging situations, cope with new environments, develop a growth mindset and develop positive relationships with their peers and beyond.
Through this initiative, we aim to equip children with the skills and competencies they need to develop resilience and effectively manage their behavior, emotions, and relationships with others.
How can you join or support this initiative?
"Alone we can do so little; Together we can do so much" ~ Hellen Keller
Be a Champion: Help us to create an awareness of this initiative by sharing this blog and our social media posts. Use the #ECSELINITIATIVE
Be a Partner: Do you make or sell SEL materials? You can partner with us to launch this initiative in some of our local classrooms by donating hands-on materials for the classrooms.
Be a Co-Pilot: Introduce a SEL center in your classroom, playroom or therapy office and share it with us. Download the free ECSEL training manual to help guide you on how create a safe space in your classroom/home/office.
Download manual using this link: https://www.childhoodmatter.org/product-page/ecsel-initiative-manual
Be a Star Sponsor: Donate an item to the initiative from a curated Amazon list. Your donation will be directly placed in a classroom that is part of the pilot program.
How to integrate social-emotional learning at home
It’s relatively easy to integrate SEL at home, but as most things do, it takes practice. Here are a few ways to incorporate social-emotional learning into your everyday routine:
Check-in with your child’s feelings first thing in the morning or after school. You can ask them “How are you?” or “What are you thinking about?” or “What color are you feeling like today?”
Teach your child the art of mindfulness.
Set up space for self-regulation and provide tools such as breathing cards, art materials, playdoh, fidget toys etc.
Allow your child to express their feelings by writing or drawing in a journal.
Teach them about emotions through reading.
(As of June 25, 2022)
Childhood Matters is a nonprofit organization that supports and nurtures the mental and emotional health of children and youth through their programs. Learn more about their mission and services at www.childhoodmatter.org
Stories In Sensory makes sensory boxes with Learning Guides. Boxes are created around a children’s book and have lessons for different ages and skill levels. Great family activity- self regulating activity, independent play- the list goes on! Visit https://www.storiesinsensory.com/ to view their wonderful products.
Created by an elementary educator and mom - FeelLinks set comes with four feeling dolls, each double-sided, representing eight core feelings, including: Happy/Sad, Proud/Embarrassed, Calm/Excited, and Angry/Scared. Adorable, emotive, brightly colored, soft and squeezable, FeelLinks plush dolls assist children with labeling, expressing and regulating their feelings.
FeelLinks journal empowers children to reflect and respond to their feelings; encouraging growth in identifying, understanding, and managing their feelings.
Visit https://myfeellinks.com/ to view their amazing products.
House of Doh provides carefully thought out themed play dough kits and hand painted wooden dolls. Their goal is to provide children of all ages with endless opportunities for independent play. Their dolls are hand painted with the most careful details and they only use non toxic paint and sealants. Their play dough is always vegan and made with non toxic ingredients.
Discovery Toys is the premier online kids' toys store dedicated to helping children learn and grow through Pure Play – play that is hands-on, child-directed, multi-faceted, safe, and FUN! They classify their toddler toys online by play type to highlight the primary developmental benefit of each product. They have been a trusted brand for over 40 years! For more information visit: https://discoverytoys.com/pws/eileenorth/tabs/pw-home.aspx
When three generations come together with a shared love in helping children, magic happens. Caroline McLain, Madilyn McLain and Micheline Etkin, combined their positive inner voices to empower children around the world. Shine Your Light, offers Bilingual Affirmations, and My Feelings Matter sentence completion cards. They want these to be tools, which help children nurture connections with themselves. For more information on their products ,visit them at https://www.shineyourlightkids.com/
Pengwee’s Breath is a tender-hearted story written by author Debbie Nutley. The story is about a young penguin who learns that his own breath gives him the power to calm his fears. Enjoy the book on its own or with a companion Teaching Guide for parents and teachers that can be downloaded for free from the author's website https://www.debbienutleyauthor.com
Maurissa Szilagi, LCSW, Ed.M helps families identify ways to connect while also repairing the relationship and helping reduce distressing behaviors amongst everyone in the family. She supports parents relationship with themselves to strengthen their relationship with their child. She has a Master of Education Degree in Psychology and Human Development from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. She is currently a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Southern California, She is in Private Practice in Westlake Village, California. To connect with
Maurissa, visit https://www.theconnectingtherapist.com/
A brand that includes endearing and educational music, videos, and eventually books of Nursery Rhymes for Kinder Times™, as well as other products and resources that will give every child, regardless of background or circumstance, a chance to learn about, value, embrace and exhibit kindness, empathy and gratitude. Learn more about For Kinder Time at https://www.forkindertimes.com/
Usborne Books & More is a division of Educational Development Corporation (EDC), a well-established company that has twice been recognized by Forbes Magazine as one of The 200 Best Small Companies in America and three times by Fortune Magazine as one of America’s 100 Fastest Growing Small Companies, and has been in existence for over 30 year. Check out the book selection at TiffsBooks.com
ECSEL PILOT CLASSROOMS
Horizon Hills is a parent child cooperative learning environment for adults and their children ages birth to 6, located in Thousand Oaks, California. In The Parenting Program , parents actively experience a partnership in learning between the teacher, parent and child. Parents who are in touch with their child’s development are better equipped to support the child’s education, and communicate with teaching and administrative staff. For more information on their program, please visit https://conejoadulted.org/parenting/
We will be assisting the 3-5 year old classroom at Horizon Hills to set up a SEL center for the 2022-2023 school year and will be holding a training program for the parents and staff .
The ECSEL in person training team at Horizon Hills
SEL Center/Safe Space Created At Horizon Hills