Why Invest in Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) in Early Childhood?


  • SEL can change a child’s trajectory for life!

national study comparing the evidence-based SEL PATHS® program and other, similar programs showing positive effects in preschool has shown how SEL instruction can change a child’s life. Researchers based the study on findings that showing that kids who act up a lot in school and at home — even very young kids — are more likely to have mental health problems and commit crimes years later as adults. In 1991, 5-year-olds at schools around the country were screened for behavior problems. Researchers identified 900 children who seemed to be most at risk for developing problems later on. Half of these kids went through school as usual — though they had access to free counseling or tutoring. The rest got PATHS® lessons, as well as counseling and tutoring, and their parents received training as well — all the way up until the students graduated from high school. By age 25, those who were enrolled in the special program not only had done better in school, but they also had lower rates of arrests and fewer mental health and substance abuse issues. The results of this decades-long study were published in September 2014 in the American Journal of Psychiatry. (Excerpted from December 31, 2014 NPR story)


  • SEL addresses numerous risk and protective factors for disadvantaged children and helps to level the playing field!
    Studies results published online in the Journal of Primary Prevention in October 2016, show that there are positive outcomes in the areas of social awareness, emotional awareness and regulation, relationships, and cognition. Children who received PATH®S exhibited significantly greater improvements than control students across all teacher-rated behavioral measures of social competence (i.e., emotion regulation, prosocial behavior, peer relations) and behavioral problems (i.e., aggression, internalizing behaviors, impulsivity and hyperactivity) at post-test as well as improvements in motor inhibition.


Risk Factors Addressed Protective Factors Addressed
·       Antisocial/aggressive behavior/physical violence ·       Academic self-efficacy
·       Bullies others ·       Clear standards for behavior
·       Early initiation of drug use ·       Coping skills
·       Hyperactivity ·       Problem solving skills
·       Stress ·       Prosocial behavior and involvement
·       Poor academic performance ·       Refusal skills
·       Low school commitment and attachment ·       Skills for social interaction
·       Instructional practice
·       Opportunities for prosocial involvement in education


  • Increases the chances of academic achievement!

According to a meta-analysis of 213 studies involving more than 270,000 students, those who participated in evidence-based SEL programs showed an 11 percentile-point gain in academic achievement compared to students who did not participate in SEL programs. (www.casel.org Feb 2017)


  • Provides a return on investment to the community!

A calculation from the Washington Institute on Public Policy (WISPP) illustrates the positive impact of decreased antisocial behavior and delinquency and criminal behavior by implementing the PATHS® program. From its most recent update in December 2016, the benefit-cost summary shows that for every $1 spent to implement the PATHS® program and return to the community equals $21.24 in lower costs. It pays to invest in prevention!


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