A review of the literature on
social and emotional learning
for students ages 3-8:
Teacher and classroom strategies
that contribute to social and
emotional learning (part 3 of 4)
Jessica De Feyter
Jia Lisa Luo
Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process by which children and adults learn to
understand and manage emotions, maintain positive relationships, and make responsible
decisions. This is the third in a series of four related reports about what is known about
SEL programs for students ages 3-8. The report series addresses four issues raised
by the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Mid-Atlantic’s Early Childhood Education
Research Alliance: characteristics of effective SEL programs (part 1), implementation
strategies and state and district policies that support SEL programming (part 2), teacher
and classroom strategies that contribute to social and emotional learning (part 3), and
outcomes of social and emotional learning among different student populations and
settings (part 4). This report provides educators with teacher and classroom strategies
to promote social and emotional learning.
Why this review?
To thrive in a social world, students must learn social and emotional skills, such as controlling their
impulses, interpreting and understanding emotions, motivating themselves, and developing positive atti-
tudes toward school and community (Pianta & La Paro, 2003; Raver, 2002). Therefore, early childhood
NATIONAL CENTER for
and REGIONAL ASSISTANCE
Institute of Education Sciences
U.S. Department of Education
Regional Educational Laboratory
At ICE International
programs aim to help students develop socially and emotionally in addition to fostering academic school
This process, referred to as social and emotional learning, centers on “the development of five interrelated
sets of cognitive, affective, and behavioral competencies” (CASEL, 2012). These five competencies include
self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decisionmaking (see
box 1 for definitions).
What the review examined
Because of recent policy interest in social and emotional learning, a large amount of information is avail-
able about SEL programs and approaches, including literature reviews, research syntheses, practice guides,
and meta-analyses. Members of REL Mid-Atlantic’s Early Childhood Education Research Alliance identi-
fied the need for an organized summary that addresses school-based social and emotional learning for the
general population of students ages 3-8, synthesizes the body of literature, and enables educators to easily
identify the programs and strategies that are most appropriate for their setting and student population.
With these goals in mind, the alliance developed four research questions to guide the project:
1. What are the characteristics of effective SEL programs?
2. What implementation strategies and state and district policies support SEL programming?
3. What teacher and classroom strategies contribute to social and emotional learning?
4. What outcomes have SEL programs demonstrated among different student populations and settings?
Box 1. Five competencies define social and emotional learning
The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) identifies these five interrelated compe-
tencies as central to social and emotional learning:
Self-awareness. Knowing what one feels, accurately assessing one’s interests and strengths, and maintaining a
well-grounded sense of self-confidence.
Self-management. Regulating one’s emotions to handle stress, control impulses, and motivate oneself to perse-
vere in overcoming obstacles, setting and monitoring progress toward the achievement of personal and academ-
ic goals, and expressing emotions appropriately.
Social awareness. Being able to take the perspective of and empathize with others, recognizing and appreciat-
ing individual and group similarities and differences.
Relationship skills. Establishing and maintaining healthy and rewarding relationships on the basis of coopera-
tion and resistance to inappropriate social pressure; preventing, managing, and constructively resolving inter-
personal conflict; and seeking help when needed.
Responsible decisionmaking. Making decisions based on a consideration of all relevant factors, including
applicable ethical standards, safety concerns, and social norms; the likely consequences of taking alternative
courses of action; and respect for others.
Source: CASEL, 2012.
These four research questions guided REL Mid-Atlantic's systematic search, review, and synthesis of recent
(2008-15) research reviews and meta-analyses (rather than original studies and sources) on the topic of
social and emotional learning. 1 The review found 83 research syntheses that met the study inclusion crite-
ria, including peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters, reports, and online publications. Each synthesis
was coded for criteria such as research question, methodology, relevant populations/ages, and settings. (The
methodology and coding results are described in appendix A of part 1. The literature is mapped to the
relevant research questions in appendix B of part 1; O’Conner, De Feyter, Carr, Luo, & Romm, 2017a.)
The social and emotional learning report series
Four related reports summarize the literature addressing each of the four research questions. This report
(part 3 of 4) focuses on the third research question on teacher and classroom strategies that contribute
to social and emotional learning. The other three reports identify several key components of effective
programs and offer guidance on program selection (part 1), offer guidance on program implementation and
identify trends toward integrating this learning at the school, district, and state levels (part 2), and provide
evidence of student outcomes (part 4; O’Conner, et al., 2017a, b, c).
Each report can stand alone as a summary of the research literature on a specific topic. The reports can
be read in any order. The first section (Why this review?) and this section (What the review examined) of
each report provide similar introductory information, with more detail on social and emotional learning
and how it is related to executive functioning and self-regulation presented in part 1 (O’Conner, et al,
What the review found
Although selecting and implementing a comprehensive, evidence-based SEL program is the preferred
approach to school-based social and emotional learning (CASEL, 2012), that is not an immediate option
for every school and teacher. This report reviews what is known about individual teacher and classroom
strategies related to student social and emotional development. No rigorous research studies have tested the
effectiveness of these strategies; however, their associations with positive student outcomes in developmen-
tal studies and research suggest that these strategies may enhance the implementation of SEL programs or
promote student skills in the absence of a fully developed program.
Research findings show that instruction in SEL skills is most effective when they are taught by classroom
teachers and integrated into ongoing classroom activities. A meta-analysis found significant gains across all
measured social and academic outcomes only when classroom teachers (rather than outside researchers or
consultants) were the primary implemented (Durlak, Weissberg, Dymnicki, Taylor, & Schellinger, 2011).
This review identified three classroom factors (besides using an SEL curriculum) that are associated with
student social and emotional learning: classroom climate, instructional strategies, and teacher social and
emotional competence. For each factor, practical strategies and examples to enhance social and emotional
learning in the classroom are described below. Additional practice-oriented resources on teacher and class-
room strategies to promote social and emotional learning are listed in the appendix.
Strategies for a positive classroom climate include modifying the physical space and materials, applying classroom
management strategies and routines, and fostering a supportive and emotionally positive environment
A positive classroom environment creates a safe space for high-quality teacher-student and student-student
interaction and provides a scaffolding for higher-intensity small group and individual SEL interventions
(Jones, Bouffard, & Weissbourd, 2013; Kemple & Ellis, 2009; Zinsser, Denham, & Curby, in press). Teach-
ers can encourage students’ social and emotional learning by purposefully setting up physical space and
materials, classroom management strategies and routines, and an emotionally supportive climate.
Physical space and materials. Teachers may experiment with making small modifications to structured
spaces and materials to encourage positive social play and reduce conflict for their students (Barnett &
Hawkins, 2009; Kemple & Ellis, 2009; Sainato, Jung, Salmon, & Axe, 2008). Examples include:
• Arranging classrooms to provide adequate space for the number of students because socially coop-
erative play decreases and aggression increases in more crowded conditions.
• Setting up smaller interest areas that are easy for students to identify and that can accommodate
small clusters of four to five students.
• Making plenty of developmentally appropriate materials available to students to encourage high
engagement and diminish conflict.
• Scheduling at least 30 minutes of free choice or play time to allow more complex interactions to
• Providing a mix of materials that encourage social play (such as clay, blocks, trucks, dolls, dress-up
clothes, and dishes) and materials that encourage parallel or solitary play (such as art materials,
books, sand, and water).
Classroom management. Effective classroom management involves creating a community of learners and
giving all students the tools to manage their own behavior while keeping the goals and norms of the larger
group at the forefront of their daily interactions and activities. Clear expectations and predictable routines
support self-regulation and encourage students to exhibit self-control. In short, effective classroom man-
agement strategies are preventive rather than reactive (Domitrovich, Moore, Thompson, & CASEL, 2012;
Jones et al., 2013).
To create a classroom climate conducive to social and emotional learning, teachers need to be knowledge-
able about student behavior and development and be familiar with and practice evidence-based strategies.
The following are four principles of effective classroom management (Jones, Bailey, & Jacob, 2014):
• Adequate planning and preparation. Mapping out the day’s learning activities and planning for tran-
sitions make it less likely that teachers will be caught off-guard and more likely that they can get
the class back on track when disruptions occur.
• High-quality, trusting relationships. When teachers work to maintain a balance of warmth and
discipline — positive interactions, responsiveness to students’ needs, clear boundaries, and con-
sistent consequences — they are better able to respond to challenges, and students are primed to
choose cooperation over conflict.
• Embeddedness in the environment. Direct material supports (such as posters, charts, or a calm-down
corner), as well as a consistent set of routines (such as songs to signal transition) and structures
(such as a weekly celebration for positive behavior), provide students with definitions, reminders,
and tools for positive behavior throughout the day. Such supports also make the classroom a pre-
dictable place where students can more easily manage themselves independently.
• Ongoing observation and documentation. Documenting problems when they occur, as well as what
worked or did not work with the class or a particular student, can help teachers notice patterns,
reflect on and adapt management strategies as necessary, and better anticipate and address similar
problems in the future.
Classroom management can be reinforced and enhanced by enlisting families as partners in an overall
SEL strategy (Albright, Weissberg, & Dusenbury, 2011). This may include asking parents about their goals
for their children, learning about how rules and routines may differ between home and school and helping
students navigate those differences, sharing practical strategies and tips with families through newsletters,
inviting parents into the classroom to observe and participate in social and emotional learning, and focus-
ing on social and emotional learning in progress reports and parent-teacher conferences (Albright et al,
Emotionally supportive climate. Students in supportive, emotionally positive classrooms have been shown
to be more socially competent and display fewer behavior problems (Zinsser et al, in press). A supportive
environment refers to both the quality of the relationships teachers develop with their students and the
degree to which a teacher is warm, responsive, and sensitive in ways that validate students’ emotions and
support them in social and academic activities. Although the teacher and students both contribute to
the classroom climate, some simple strategies and routines can help teachers create a warm, emotionally
positive environment where students feel supported in their learning (Huitt & Dawson, 2011; Kemple &
• Greeting each student at the door by name.
• Starting the day with group affection activities (see box 2).
• Praising students’ work and effort.
• Encouraging students who are not immediately successful.
• Posting students’ work at their eye level to show its value.
• Sending home positive notes about students’ classroom behavior.
Instructional strategies that promote social and emotional learning include modeling, reacting to, and instructing
about students’ expression of emotions
Research suggests that teachers and other staff can develop social and emotional competence in their stu-
dents through emotion socialization (Denham, Basset, & Wyatt, 2007; Zinsser et al., in press). Emotion
socialization, which occurs in both schools and families, has three components:
• Modeling emotions and social exchanges.
• Reacting to student emotions and interactions with others.
• Teaching about emotions and relationships.
The strategies associated with each of these components constitute the core of many high-quality SEL
programs. Teachers who do not have access to a program, or who want to extend and support their exist-
ing curriculum, can enhance their SEL toolkit by weaving these techniques into their daily interactions,
instructional activities, and routines.
Box 2. Group affection activities
In group affection activities, intervention is embedded in the natural context of typical group-time activities.
McEvoy, Twardosz, and Bishop (1990) described group affection activities as typical preschool games, songs,
and experiences that have been modified to include teacher prompts for varying types of affectionate respons-
es. Group affection activities are easy to implement and can help children make connections with peers with
whom they may not ordinarily choose to interact (McEvoy, Odom, & McConnell 1992). This strategy is meant to
be used in a highly intentional and purposeful manner. Teachers introduce the purpose of the activity (e.g., "We
are going to practice some friendly ways to say hello”), reinforce children’s appropriate behavior (e.g., “Jason
gave friendly, gentle handshakes to two friends. ...Good job, Jason”), and recap the activity (e.g., ” It’s important
to use friendly ways to say hello. That lets children know you want to be friends”).
Source: Excerpted from Kemple & Ellis, 2009, pp. 8-9.
Modeling. The way that teachers display positive and negative emotions in the classroom provides a model
for young students (Denham, et al, 2007; Denham, Bassett, & Zinsser 2012; Figueroa-Sanchez, 2008; Jen-
nings & Greenberg, 2009; Jones et al., 2013; Macklem, 2008a; McCabe & Altamura, 2011; Schonert-Re-
ichl, 2011; Yoder, 2014; Zinsser et al., in press). Modeling teaches students about social norms for conveying
and regulating emotions, and it helps students understand and regulate their own emotions. Throughout
the day, teachers can effectively display social and emotional competence in the classroom by modeling:
• Genuine, appropriate emotions and responses to emotions (for example, remaining eveivkeeled in
response to a student’s angry outburst).
• Emotion language and ways to communicate feelings to others (“I’m so excited, happy, nervous”).
• Techniques for effective social interaction (for example, active listening and offering help).
• Strategies for emotional and behavioral self-regulation and problem solving (box 3).
Reacting. Teachers can choose how to react to students’ expressions of emotions. Harsh, punitive, or dis-
missive responses can have negative effects on students’ social and emotional competence. Conversely,
reacting to student emotions (especially negative emotions like sadness or anger) with empathy and warm,
nonjudgmental support, as well as coaching students through their emotions, promotes understanding of
their emotions, self-regulation, and competence (Denham et al, 2012; Domitrovich et al., 2012). The fob
lowing ways of reacting to young students’ emotions have been shown to promote social and emotional
learning (Jones et al., 2013; Macklem, 2008b; Zinsser et al., in press):
• Encouraging the expression of emotions, positive or negative, when they arise.
• Reading and matching individual students’ temperaments and emotions.
• Acting as a “sportscaster” or interpreter during student disputes by describing the situation.
• Responding empathetically to students who have meltdowns or who become flooded with emotion.
• Practicing reflective listening and using calming scripts to help students regain control.
• Engaging in “interpersonal scaffolding” (Kemple & Ellis, 2009) or “social problem-solving dialogue”
(Denham & Burton, 2003) during conflicts. These approaches involve guiding and encouraging
each student who is involved in the situation to voice his or her perspective, generate potential
solutions, and jointly decide on and implement a mutually acceptable solution.
• Using emotion coaching (box 4).
Box 3. Teachers can model strategies for self-regulating emotions
Specific emotion regulation strategies that can be taught and reinforced in the early childhood classroom
• Comforting oneself.
• Seeking help.
• Distracting oneself.
• Refocusing or shifting attention.
• Solving problems.
• Changing goals.
• Taking a walk to calm down.
• Looking for the “silver lining."
• Getting involved with something else.
• Practicing deep breathing.
• Trying a different way.
• Talking “strategy” to oneself.
• Distracting oneself by refocusing attention.
Source: Macklem, 2008b.
Box 4. Teachers can use emotion coaching to promote social and emotional learning
Emotion coaching is a popular term in parenting literature. It includes:
• Attending to and respecting the emotions exhibited by the student.
• Direct teaching of self-soothing and calming down.
• Showing interest in how the student feels.
• Modeling and talking about remaining engaged with others when the situation is stressful.
• Pointing out what caused the emotion.
• Answering the student’s questions quickly.
• Specifically helping the student manage anxiety, sadness, and anger.
Source: Macklem, 2008b.
Teaching. In addition to modeling and reacting to students’ emotions in the classroom, teachers can
explicitly teach social and emotional competence. Many teaching strategies meet the goals of social and
emotional learning and academic learning simultaneously (for example, using children’s books to teach
both phonological awareness and understanding of emotions through analysis of the characters in a story).
Used throughout the school day, these activities and routines continually prompt and guide SEL skills.
Examples of teaching strategies for social and emotional learning are shown in box 5.
Box 5. Examples of teaching strategies for social and emotional learning
• Participating in conversations about feelings.
• Introducing songs, rhyming poems, games, chants, and word play based on feelings, emotions, and
• Reading and discussing stories in which the characters confront dilemmas with a wide range of feelings.
• Asking questions during stories such as "How do you think that made her feel?” or “What can she do?” to
teach perspective and direct students’ attention to the need for problem solving.
• Allowing students time to tell their own stories that incorporate personal experiences, hopes and dreams,
and practices and traditions.
• Having students participate in transitions by singing, clapping, or marching.
• Organizing games and activities on the playground that encourage cooperative play and development of
• Incorporating board games in the classroom that promote practice with taking turns, sharing, and regulating
negative emotions and that encourage orientations to others that are fair, just, and respectful.
• Having students address emotions through role plays in which students have a chance to get into a role,
feel the specific emotions, and learn about solutions.
• Incorporating small group and cooperative learning.
• Talking deliberately about the context and meaning of emotions.
• Using real events to help students attend to others’ emotions (“How do you think Jake feels with his dad
• Teaching the differences between purposeful aggression and accidents.
• Teaching the difference between feelings and acting on those feelings (for example, it’s okay to be angry but
not to hit).
• Teaching students the labels, causes, and consequences of emotions.
• Labeling feelings for students, asking how they feel, and asking them to identify the feelings of others.
Source: Denham et at, 2012; Figueroa-Sanchez, 2008; Hromek & Roffey, 2009; Kemple & Ellis, 2009; Macklem, 2008b; McCabe
& Altamura, 2011; Schonert-Reichl; 2011; Thompson & Twibell, 2009; Whitted, 2011; Zinsser et al., in press.
Strategies to build teacher social and emotional competence include direct training, reflective supervision and
relationship building, and stress-reduction techniques
Socially and emotionally competent teachers exhibit high self-awareness and high social awareness (Jen-
nings & Greenberg, 2009). They hold prosocial values and make responsible decisions based, in part, on
how their decisions may affect others. Teachers’ social and emotional competence includes perceiving the
feelings of self and others, using emotions to facilitate cognition and action, understanding emotions, and
managing emotions (Denham et al., 2012).
A teacher’s social and emotional awareness and sensitivity contribute to a positive emotional climate in
the classroom (Denham et al, 2012; Jennings & Greenberg, 2009; Jones et al, 2013; Zinsser et al., in press).
Teachers who are knowledgeable about their own emotions may be better able to empathize with a stu-
dent’s complex emotional reactions. Teachers who can regulate their own emotions may be more adept at
creating a consistent emotional environment. Moreover, teachers who succeed in managing their feelings
may respond more effectively to challenging situations with students (Zinsser et al., in press). The effects of
teacher social and emotional competence on student outcomes are shown in box 6.
Ways to promote teachers’ emotional skills include direct training, reflective supervision and relation-
ship-building, and stress-reduction techniques.
• Teacher training. Training can increase teachers’ awareness of their role in students’ social and emo-
tional learning. It can help them become more willing to show emotions, remain emotionally pos-
itive in the classroom, and modulate their negative emotions. Training can also give new teachers
specific strategies to use in reacting to students’ negative feelings (Denham et al, 2012).
• Reflective supervision and relationship'building. Regular meetings with a supportive supervisor that
focus on the experiences, thoughts, and feelings directly connected with teaching can help teach-
ers step back from day-to-day stresses, access and understand their emotions, and problem-solve
more effectively (Denham et al., 2012; Jones et al., 2013).
• Stress reduction techniques. Teachers can learn techniques to improve their social and emotion-
al competence. If the factors that cause stress cannot be mitigated, several techniques can help
Box 6. Teacher social and emotional competence and student outcomes
Young students develop social and emotional skills by interacting with others. Since many students spend
substantial time in school, research has started to examine the ways that a teacher’s own social and emotional
skills can affect students’ success in school (Denham et al., 2012). Research reveals that teachers’ social
and emotional competence influences the quality of teacher-student relationships, classroom organization and
management, and teachers’ modeling of social and emotional skills for students (Jones et al., 2013).
• Preschool teachers with low awareness of their own emotions often ignore their students’ emotions, comfort
them less often, and are less likely to match their positive feelings (Denham et al., 2012).
• Teachers’ own social and emotional competence affects their ability to be positive socializers (Denham et
• Teachers’ negative feelings (such as frustration, annoyance, and boredom) make it harder for them to
promote social and emotional competence in their students (Zinsser et al., in press).
• Teachers who develop their own social and emotional competence and act to reduce their stress and regu-
late their emotions not only feel better but also are more effective in teaching SEL skills (Zinsser et al., in
teachers cope with stress that cannot be avoided. Two interventions to help teachers with stress
management are (Jones et al., 2013):
o Mindfulness practices, which generally involve meditation and other centering techniques.
Such practices can help educators be less reactive and more reflective, responsive, and flex-
ible. Early research suggests that training in mindfulness skills can increase teachers’ sense
of well-being, self-efficacy about teaching, and classroom management skills (Denham et al.,
2012; Jennings & Greenberg, 2009; Jones et al., 2013).
o Emotion-focused training interventions, which help teachers think about their emotions and
deal with difficult feelings by reframing, problem solving, and managing emotions.
Implications of the review findings
Teachers and administrators can use the strategies presented in this report either with or without a formal
SEL program. There are numerous opportunities for teachers to infuse everyday interactions with tech-
niques that support students’ social, emotional, and academic learning. As the research suggests, the pres-
ence of an SEL “toolkit” comprising instructional strategies, a positive classroom climate, and a teacher
with social and emotional competence can enhance classroom implementation of social and emotional
Implications of the social and emotional learning report series
Decades of SEL research have begun to answer some of the questions educators, researchers, and policy-
makers have asked about what really works in supporting students’ overall development, keeping them
engaged in school, and giving them the knowledge and skills to thrive from childhood through adult-
hood. However, although great strides have been made, some SEL research areas remain largely uncharted.
This SEL report series identified five areas where additional focus would strengthen knowledge about evi-
• Some research syntheses have identified general quality issues with the literature base, such as
reliance only on self-reports or lack of data on the reliability and validity of measures (Durlak,
Weissberg, Dymnicki, Taylor, and Schellinger, 2011; Humphrey, 2013).
• Only a small number of studies report data on implementation, and even fewer connect implemen-
tation data with outcomes.
• Few studies report on how outcomes differ by social and cultural factors or by gender.
• SEL assessments have been designed and used mostly for a homogeneous White population, and
rarely have efforts been made to assess the applicability of the instruments to students in different
racial/ethnic or language groups.
• Finally, because schools and teachers implement social and emotional learning within real-world
circumstances and constraints, components must sometimes be adapted to fit specific requirements.
More research is needed on exactly which components of individual programs can be adapted
without jeopardizing program outcomes and which need to be implemented exactly as prescribed.
The promise of social and emotional learning as an educational approach is only as strong as the methods
used to understand and develop it. Attention to these key research gaps will provide better evidence and
therefore better services to support students and families.
Appendix. Resources on teacher and classroom
strategies to promote social and emotional learning
This appendix is a compilation of resources for educators and policymakers on teacher and classroom strat-
egies to promote social and emotional learning. The resources include specific instructional strategies (such
as classroom management an early identification), sample lesson plans, checklists, videos, and chats from
publications and websites. Although table A1 is not an exhaustive list of resources on teacher- and class-
room-based strategies to promote social and emotional learning, it provides a starting point.
Table Al. Resources on teacher and classroom strategies to promote social and emotional learning
A to Z Teacher Stuff website:
The A to Z Teacher Stuff website provides sample lesson plans
that use cooperative learning strategies.
Association for Mindfulness in Education:
The Association for Mindfulness in Education is a collaborative
association of organizations and individuals working together to
support mindfulness training as a component of K-12 education.
The website includes resources and research in the field of
mindfulness as it related to children and adolescents.
The Conscious Discipline website links to a number of resources,
instructional videos, and discipline tips for behavioral and social
situations that children may encounter.
Cooper, J. L., Masi, R., & Vick, J. (2009). Social-emotional
development in early childhood: What every policymaker
should know. New York, NY: National Center for Children in
This brief from the National Center for Children in Poverty discusses the
role of social and emotional development in early childhood. The table
on pages 11-12 provides evidence-based prevention strategies, early
recognition and identification strategies, and intervention strategies to
address the social and emotional needs of young children.
Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early
Learning (CSEFEL)'s Resources: Chat Sessions webpage:
The Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early
Learning (CSEFEL) website has periodic live chat sessions in
English and Spanish on topics related to the social and emotional
development of young children.
CSEFEL’s Resources: Practical Strategies for Teachers/
Caregivers webpage: http://csefel.vanderbilt.edu/
The CSEFEL website has practice SEL strategies for teachers and
caregivers. Resources include scripted stories for social situations,
tools for working on building relationships, book lists and book
nook, tools for teaching SEL skills, and tools for developing
behavior support plans.
CSEFEL’s Resources: Videos webpage:
The CSEFEL website has video resources on a variety of SEL
topics and initiatives.
CSEFEL’s Resources: What Works Briefs webpage:
The CSEFEL website has What Works Briefs. The briefs describe
practical strategies, provide references to more information about
the practice, and include a one-page handout that highlights the
major points of the brief.
CSEFEL’s Resources: What Works Training Kits webpage:
The CSEFEL website has What Works training kits based on
the What Works Briefs topics. Short training packages include
PowerPoint slides with accompanying note pages, activities, and
handouts, which provide the materials trainers need to conduct a
short staff development program on a focused topic.
Epstein, M., Atkins, M., Cullinan, D., Kutash, K., & Weaver,
R. (2008). Reducing behavior problems in the elementary
school classroom: A practice guide (NCEE 2008-012).
Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation
and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences,
U.S. Department of Education, http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/
This IES practice guide contains evidence-based prevention and
intervention strategies that promote positive student behavior.
Recommendations for reducing problem behavior and evidence
to support each recommendation are provided in table 2, with
additional detail in the text. The practice guide also contains a
checklist for carrying out each recommendation, including detailed
instructions for each step on each checklist with examples,
important factors, and potential roadblocks.
Table Al. Resources on teacher and classroom strategies to promote social and emotional
Fox, L., & Lentini, R. H. (2006). You got it! Teaching social
and emotional skills. Young Children, 61(6), 36-42. http://
This journal article describes classroom strategies for teaching
social and emotional skills. They include reframing problem
behavior and teaching social skills.
The Hawn Foundation provides social and emotional learning
programs to reduce stress and aggressive behavior, improve
focus and academic performance, and increase resiliency for
success in school and in life. The website includes resources and
research on the MindUP™ SEL curriculum and training program.
Jennings, P. A., & Greenberg, M. T. (2009). The prosocial
classroom: Teacher social and emotional competence
in relation to student and classroom outcomes. Review
of Educational Research, 79(1), 491-525. http://www.
This journal article provides details on promising approaches for
integrating social and emotional learning into daily practice.
Jones, S. M., Bailey, R., & Jacob, R. (2014).
Social-emotional learning is essential to
classroom management. Phi Delta Kappan, 96(2),
This journal article presents a school-based SEL intervention
called SECURe — Social, Emotional, and Cognitive Understanding
and Regulation in education. The table provides descriptions of
routines and strategies for preK classroom management and
social and emotional learning. It also includes targeted skills for
Jones, S. M., Bouffard, S. M., & Weissbourd, R. (2013).
Educators’ social and emotional learning skills vital
to learning. Phi Delta Kappan, 94(8), 62-65. http://
This journal article provides descriptions and examples of teacher
stress management interventions.
Mindfulness in Schools Project:
The Mindfulness in Schools Project is a nonprofit organization
whose aim is to encourage, support, and research the teaching of
secular mindfulness in schools. The website includes resources,
curricula, and training courses.
National School Climate Center:
The National School Climate Center is a research and technical
assistance organization that supports states, districts, and
schools in promoting safe and supportive learning environments.
Resources on the website include the school climate guide for
policymakers and education leaders, school climate practice
briefs, and a school climate resource center. The website also
includes resources on preventing bullying.
Teacher Vision: https://www.teachervision.com/emotional
The Teacher Vision website section “Social & emotional issues
— Teacher resources," includes printable materials, lessons, and
other resources that supply guidelines and advice for addressing
social and emotional issues.
Yoder, N. (2014). Teaching the whole child: Instructional
practices that support social-emotional learning in three
teacher evaluation frameworks. Washington, DC: Center
on Great Teachers and Leaders at American Institutes for
This brief from the Center on Great Teachers and Leaders at
American Institutes for Research identifies teaching practices
that are related to SEL. It provides detailed descriptions of
10 instructional strategies that can be used in classrooms to
support positive learning environments, social and emotional
competencies, and academic learning. For each teaching practice,
the brief provides an example from either an SEL program or an
SEL practice that aligns with the Common Core State Standards
Source: Authors’ analysis based on literature identified in the review and other sources, 2008-15
1. The goal of the literature search was to summarize research syntheses and identify useful resources
for stakeholders. The aim was not to conduct an exhaustive search and analysis of original research
studies, which has already been done.
Albright, M. I., Weissberg, R. R, & Dusenbury, L. A. (2011). School-family partnership strategies to enhance
childrens social, emotional, and academic growth. Chicago, IL: Collaborative for Academic, Social, and
Emotional Learning and Social and Emotional Learning Research Group, University of Illinois at
Chicago. Retrieved June 12, 2014, from http://www.casel.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/school-family
Barnett, D. W., & Hawkins, R. O. (2009). Behavioral interventions for preschoolers. In A. Akin-Little, S.
G. Little, M. A. Bray, & T. J. Kehle (Eds.), Behavioral interventions in schools: Evidence-based positive
strategies (School Psychology Series) (pp. 297-310). Washington, DC: APA Books.
CASEL (Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning). (2012). Effective social and emotion-
al learning programs. Chicago, IL: Author. Retrieved June 12, 2014, from http://static.squarespace.com/
Denham, S. A., Bassett, H. H., & Wyatt, T. (2007). The socialization of emotional competence. In J.
Grusec & P. Hastings (Eds.), The handbook of socialization (pp. 614-637). New York, NY: Guilford Press.
Denham, S., Bassett, H., & Zinsser, K. (2012). Early childhood teachers as socializers of young children’s emo-
tional competence. Early Childhood Education Journal, 40(3), 137-143. http://eric.ed.gov/lkUEJ963274
Denham, S. A., & Burton, R. (2003). Social and emotional prevention and intervention programming for pre-
schoolers. New York, NY: Kluwer-Plenum.
Domitrovich, C. E., Moore, J. E., Thompson, R. A., & the CASEL Preschool to Elementary School Social
and Emotional Learning Assessment Workgroup. (2012). Interventions that promote social-emotional
learning in young children. In R. Pianta (Ed.), Handbook of early childhood education (pp. 393-415).
New York, NY: Guilford Press.
Durlak, J. A., Weissberg, R. P., Dymnicki, A. B., Taylor, R. D., & Schellinger, K. B. (2011). The impact of
enhancing students’ social and emotional learning: A meta-analysis of school-based universal interven-
tions. Child Development, 82(1), 405-432. http://eric.ed.gov/lkUEJ927868
Figueroa-Sanchez, M. (2008). Building emotional literacy: Groundwork to early learning. Childhood Educa-
tion, 84(5), 301-304.
Hromek, R., & Roffey, S. (2009). Promoting social and emotional learning with games: “It’s fun and we
learn things.” Simulation & Gaming, 40(5), 626-644-
Huitt, W. G., & Dawson, C. (2011). Social development: Why it is important and how to impact it. Valdos-
ta, GA: Valdosta State University Educational Psychology Interactive. Retrieved June 12, 2014, from
Humphrey, N. (2013). Social and emotional learning: A critical appraisal. Washington, DC: Sage.
Jennings, P. A., & Greenberg, M. T. (2009). The prosocial classroom: Teacher social and emotional com-
petence in relation to student and classroom outcomes. Review of Educational Research, 79(1), 491-525.
Jones, S. M., Bailey, R., & Jacob, R. (2014). Sociabemotional learning is essential to classroom manage-
ment. Phi Delta Kappan, 96(2), 19-24.
Jones, S. M., Bouffard, S. M., & Weissbourd, R. (2013). Educators’ social and emotional learning skills vital
to learning. Phi Delta Kappan, 94(8), 62-65.
Kemple, K. M., & Ellis, S. M. (2009). Peer-related social competence in early childhood: Supporting inter-
action and relationships. In E. L. Essa & M. M. Burnham (Eds.), Informing our practice: Useful research
on young children’s development (pp. 5-12). Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of
Young Children. http://eric.ed.gov/lkRED505533
Macklem, G. L. (2008a). Emotion regulation in the classroom. In G. L. Macklem (Ed.), Practitioner’s guide
to emotion regulation in school-aged children (pp. 63-81). New York, NY: Springer Science + Business
Macklem, G. L. (2008b). Strategies for parents and teachers: Strengthening skills for parents and teachers
to help students regulate emotions. In G. L. Macklem (Ed.), Practitioner’s guide to emotion regulation in
school-aged children (pp. 123-142). New York, NY: Springer Science + Business Media.
McCabe, P. C., & Altamura, M. (2011). Empirically valid strategies to improve social and emotional com-
petence of preschool children. Psychology in the Schools, 48(5), 513-540. http://eric.ed.gov/lkREJ921373
McEvoy, M., Odom, S., & McConnell, S. (1992). Peer social competence interventions for young children
with disabilities. In S. Odom, S. McConnell, & M. McEvoy (Eds.), Social competence of young children
with disabilities: Issues and strategies for interventions (pp. 113-133). Baltimore, MD: Brookes Publishing.
McEvoy, M., Twardosz, S., & Bishop, N. (1990). Affection activities: Procedures for encouraging young
children with handicaps to interact with their peers. Education and Treatment of Children, 13, 159-167.
O’Conner, R., De Feyter, J., Carr, A., Luo, J. L., & Romm, H. (2017a). A review of the literature on social and
emotional learning for students ages 3-8: Characteristics of effective social and emotional learning programs
(part 1 of 4). (REL 2017-245). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education
Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Regional Educational
O’Conner, R., De Feyter, J., Carr, A., Luo, J. L., & Romm, H. (2017b). A review of the literature on social and
emotional learning for students ages 3—8: Implementation strategies and state and district support policies
(part 2 of 4). (REL 2017-246). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education
Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Regional Educational
O’Conner, R., De Feyter, J., Carr, A., Luo, J. L., & Romm, H. (2017c). A review of the literature on social and
emotional learning for students ages 3-8: Outcomes for different student populations and settings (part 4
of 4) (REL 2017-248). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Scienc-
es, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Regional Educational Labora-
Pianta, R. C., & La Paro, K. (2003). Improving early school success. Educational Leadership, 60(7), 24-29.
Raver, C. C. (2002). Emotions matter: Making the case for the role of young children’s emotional deveh
opment for early school readiness. Social Policy Report of the Society for Research in Child Development,
Sainato, D. M., Jung, S., Salmon, M. D., & Axe, J. B. (2008). Classroom influences on young children’s
emerging social competence. In W. H. Brown, S. L. Odom, & S. R. McConnell (Eds.), Social competence
of young children: Risk, disability, and intervention (pp. 99-115). Baltimore, MD: Brookes Publishing.
Schonert-Reichl, K. (2011). Promoting empathy in school-aged children: Current state of the field and
implications for research and practice. In K. Nader (Ed.), School rampage shootings and other youth dis-
turbances: Early preventative interventions (pp. 159-203). New York, NY: Routledge/Taylor & Francis
Thompson, J. E., & Twibell, K. K. (2009). Teaching hearts and minds in early childhood classrooms: Cur-
riculum for social and emotional development. In O. A. Barbarin & B. H. Wasik (Eds.), Handbook of
child development and early education: Research to practice (pp. 199-222). New York, NY: Guilford Press.
Whitted, K. S. (2011). Understanding how social and emotional skill deficits contribute to school failure.
Preventing School Failure, 55(1), 10-16. http://eric.ed.gov/lkUEJ903733
Yoder, N. (2014). Teaching the whole child: Instructional practices that support sociabemotional learning in three
teacher evaluation frameworks. Washington, DC: Center on Great Teachers and Leaders at Ameri-
can Institutes for Research. Retrieved June 12, 2014, from http://www.gtlcenter.org/sites/default/files/
Zinsser, K. M., Denham, S. A., & Curby, T. W. (in press). Being a social-emotional teacher. Young Children.
The National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance (NCEE) conducts unbiased
large-scale evaluations of education programs and practices supported by federal funds; provides
research-based technical assistance to educators and policymakers; and supports the synthesis and
the widespread dissemination of the results of research and evaluation throughout the United States.
This report was prepared for the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) under Contract ED-IES-
12-C-0006 by Regional Educational Laboratory Mid-Atlantic administered by ICF International. The
content of the publication does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of IES or the U.S. Depart-
ment of Education, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply
endorsement by the U.S. Government.
This REL report is in the public domain. While permission to reprint this publication is not necessary,
it should be cited as:
O’Conner, R., De Feyter, J., Carr, A., Luo, J. L., & Romm, H. (2017). A review of the literature on social
and emotional learning for students ages 3-8: Teacher and classroom strategies that contribute to social
and emotional learning (part 3 of 4) (REL 2017-247). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education,
Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance,
Regional Educational Laboratory Mid-Atlantic. Retrieved from http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/edlabs.
This report is available on the Regional Educational Laboratory website at http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/
The Regional Educational Laboratory Program produces 7 types of reports
Studies of correlational relationships
Making an Impact
Studies of cause and effect
Descriptions of policies, programs, implementation status, or data trends
Summaries of previous research
Summaries of research findings for specific audiences
Applied Research Methods
Research methods for educational settings
Help for planning, gathering, analyzing, or reporting data or research