Afterschool, summer, and other out-of-school-time programs can be ideal settings for children to learn and build social and emotional well-being—when skilled and trusted adults are there to guide them, according to this conference report.

Social and emotional skills—the capacity to work productively with a group, manage feelings well, resolve conflicts satisfactorily, and an array of other capabilities—are increasingly recognized as a key to success in modern life. Accordingly, efforts to integrate social and emotional learning (SEL) into the classroom and in afterschool, summer, or other out-of-school-time (OST) programs have gotten increasing attention in recent years.

This report is based on a day-long meeting in Chicago in October 2019 that brought together youth development leaders, researchers, and educators to look at two of the field’s biggest challenges: developing the ability of adults to teach social-emotional skills and communicating the importance of those skills to those who may be unaware of how vital they are. Among the topics explored in the report are research findings on nurturing social-emotional development; ways that various programs create an environment where SEL can thrive; and language that can help parents and other caregivers understand why SEL is important for kids.

The event was sponsored by The Wallace Foundation and America’s Promise Alliance in conjunction with the SEL Exchange, a conference the next day on social and emotional learning hosted by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning.

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