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Childhood Matters Launches The ECSEL Initiative

Updated: Dec 27, 2022

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:

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