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The Cost of Social Emotional Learning- Are We really Taking Advantage of What is Out There?

Regina E.S. Puckett

October 11th, 2020

I agree Social Emotional Learning can be one more added expense and energy for our schools but it does not need to be expensive in the sense that so much of it is part of the daily routine. It is how we interact with the children throughout the day and help them resolve conflicts when necessary.

Some years I spent very little on SEL curriculum, creating home spun games and activities from what I had previously learned. Other years I blew about $300-$500 on SEL curriculum. For instance, I was given the Second Step Violence Prevention Kit at a Montessori school on a tribal reservation I used to work at. The children and I loved using it and I found it helpful and meaningful to the children with a few exceptions that some of the lessons were really for older kindergarten children. I liked it so much, I purchased it again when I owned my family home childcare. I decided to buy it because, when I actually added up the cost to make my on similar kit, it would have actually cost me more!

I also look at a teacher like me who is obsessed with everything early childhood and anything social-emotional. I am willing to pay for and attend trainings or buy books on my own. Yet studies keep showing it is not trainings and books that help teachers gain Social Emotional Learning skills; it is being coached by someone else that really matter.

Now I'm a "create my own lesson plans based on my children's interests and needs" kind of teacher, but many schools and teachers aren't. Not so long ago, I did observations in centers that were given learning curriculum for free through a grant. This curriculum included free resources for implementing a social-emotional component with the children. When I asked all the teachers I observed about the social-emotional component, none of them were doing it. They saw it as less important as the cognitive and linguistic activities. As optional "fluff". Interesting enough, they also were not using the physical development portion of the curriculum either. Another critical component of whole child development.

I have worked with programs who do not use any SEL in their classrooms’, but their storage closets are filled with Conscious Discipline, Second Step, Creative Curriculum, and HighScope SEL materials. All that money gone to waste, collecting dust in closets. So yes, a lot of money is being wasted each year through taxpayer’s hard earned money AND no results are being seen by many critics. Maybe it ‘s about time all of those materials and kits actually got used so the children can get all of their needs met?

How is data being collected? Who is being held accountable? And how can some schools complain about children's behavior when they are choosing to not support the children's social emotional development with the resources they have available these days?