Social and Emotional Learning
Positive social and emotional development and learning in the early years provides an important foundation for lifelong learning and development, including mental health. Building social and emotional learning every day starts with relationships and supportive learning environments. Once in place, all children can learn social skills (such as friendship skills), emotional literacy, self-regulation, and problem-solving. Teaching social skills and fostering emotional literacy can also prevent behaviors that are challenging to adults. Explore the resources found on this page for more information about social and emotional development and learning. This page aims to provide equal access to resources and supports that can lead to positive social and emotional outcomes for all children and families.
The Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework (ELOF): Ages Birth to Five describes the skills, behaviors, and knowledge that programs must foster in all children. The Effective Practice Guides provide information about domain-specific teaching practices that support children’s development. Follow the links to explore the Approaches to Learning and Social and Emotional Development ELOF domains in the Effective Practices Guides.
Responsive and positive relationships are the foundation for learning. Relationships between children and education staff, education staff and families, and children and families are important and support children’s social and emotional development. Secure, consistent, and trusting relationships help children feel comfortable learning new social and academic skills and strategies. Use these resources to learn more about building and supporting relationships.
Consistent, predictable, and supportive environments create a safe and secure place for all children to learn. Supportive environments promote engagement for every child. These environments provide consistent and predictable routines, clear expectations for what is going to happen, and developmentally appropriate choices so children are ready to learn. In these resources, explore how to set up supportive and engaging environments for children ages birth to 5 to support social and emotional learning.
Social and Emotional Skills
Children develop social and emotional skills throughout childhood. When children learn social and emotional skills at an early age, it helps them have stronger skills for a lifetime. Building in social and emotional learning every day creates many opportunities for education staff and families to teach and model social and emotional skills. Friendship skills, emotional literacy, self-regulation, anger management, and problem-solving are all skills children can learn and practice. Explore these resources to learn more about teaching social and emotional skills to children that they can use for many years to come.
Behavior Support and Challenging Behavior
Behavior has meaning. Children often exhibit behaviors that can be challenging to adults when they don’t have words or skills to let others know what they want or need. Teaching social and emotional skills can help children to efficiently use words and actions to get their needs met. Check out the resources in this collection to find information on how to support children exhibiting challenging behavior.
Find more information and resources on social and emotional development.
Explore Additional Resources
National Center for Pyramid Model Innovations (NCPMI)
NCPMI is funded by the Office of Special Education Programs to improve and support the capacity of state systems and local programs to implement an early childhood multi-tiered system of support to improve the social, emotional, and behavioral outcomes of young children with, and at risk for, developmental disabilities or delays. The goals of NCPMI are to assist states and programs in implementing sustainable systems to support the Pyramid Model for Supporting Social Emotional Competence in Infants and Young Children (Pyramid Model) within early intervention and early education programs with a focus on:
- Promoting the social, emotional, and behavioral outcomes of young children birth to 5
- Reducing the use of inappropriate discipline practices
- Promoting family engagement
- Using data for decision-making
- Integrating early childhood and infant mental health consultation
- Fostering inclusion
Early Childhood Technical Assistance (ECTA)
The ECTA Center supports state Part C and Section 619 programs in developing high-quality early intervention and preschool special education service systems, increasing local implementation of evidence-based practices, and enhancing outcomes for young children with disabilities and their families. The Practice Improvement Tools help education staff implement evidence-based practices. The Performance Checklists can be used for reflecting on practices and are available in English and Spanish.
Practice Guides for Practitioners are one-page guides for educators in group settings. The guides provide strategies that strengthen social and emotional development and learning in young children.
Last Updated: October 17, 2022