Social-Emotional Learning and Evaluation in After-School Care: A Working Model
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Social-emotional competence in children is an important area in which to develop and improve effective programs and evaluation. Research shows a positive association between social-emotional learning (SEL) and improvements in students’ conduct, social behavior, and school engagement as well as decreases in high-risk behaviors such as taking drugs, smoking and aggression. Extensive research points to the positive benefits of successful SEL curriculum in schools, but less research exists on SEL implementation in after-school care settings. Since social-emotional competence is correlated with higher positive effects and a decrease of negative effects in the social, behavioral, and academic outcomes of children exposed to these programs, more research is needed on the most effective format and environment for implementation. The purpose of this article is to review this research, and report the results of an evaluation comparing pre- and post-program survey data from children (n = 125; age range = 4-11 years) attending an after-school program that has incorporated an SEL curriculum. Results showed significant increases in two SEL competencies: empathy and self-soothing. The advantages to providing both SEL instruction and evaluation in after-school care settings in addition to schools is also explored.