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A Review of the Literature on Social and Emotional Learning for Students Ages 3–8: Characteristics of Effective Social and Emotional Learning Programs


The purpose of the report series is to summarize the benefits of social and emotional learning (SEL) in early childhood, and identify the characteristics of SEL interventions that are effective in school contexts. Responding to a need expressed by the Early Childhood Education Research Alliance, the research team conducted a systematic review and synthesis of recent research reviews and meta-analyses on the topic of SEL. The review identified effective SEL programs, strategies, and implementation practices. These effective components include aspects of program design, teacher training and technical assistance, and integration of SEL with existing structures. The review also described state and district policies that support SEL, such as engaging stakeholders, assessing resources and needs, adopting evidence-based SEL programs, integrating SEL into teacher and administrator evaluation systems, and developing comprehensive, freestanding SEL learning standards. Results suggest that SEL programs positively affect social and academic outcomes; however, more research is needed on the effects on diverse student groups.

The four parts to the series are: