According to a new issue brief from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Penn State University, “emphasis on social emotional learning in early childhood can enable children to thrive academically, mentally, and physically in kindergarten and beyond.”

The brief shares evidence-based programs and practices that work in promoting social and emotional learning in preschool. Specifically, social-emotional programs are effective when they:

  • Promote positive classroom management and improve quality of teacher-student interactions
  • Include skill-building
  • Integrate with academic enrichment programs
  • Use professional development
  • Involve parents

Social-emotional skills, in turn, allow students to follow directions, pay attention, persist at challenging tasks and much more. Longer-term results also include positive mental health, higher rates of high school graduation, and career success.

While the report identifies highly positive benefits to the social-emotional learning programs they studied, they also identified future research needs, such as gaining a better understanding of the critical elements and amount exposure needed, identifying how to scale across the range of early childhood learning programs, and establishing longer-term benefits in more recent studies.

Social-emotional learning is essential to student success. When early learning providers incorporate social-emotional skills and programing early on, children are better prepared for kindergarten and beyond.

Read the full brief here.