Professional Development

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Three Ways to Build a Positive OST Community with Social-Emotional Learning

Tuesday, 22 March 2022 13:01

Social-emotional learning (SEL) helps children develop life skills like empathy, processing and managing emotions, building positive relationships, solving problems, and setting goals—all of which can contribute to welcoming environments where a kinder community can flourish. Strengthen your OST community through SEL with these three steps. 

  1. Be intentional. 

Building positive relationships is a core value at the heart of OST culture. Most OST programs are inherently social and simply by participating in them, children learn social-emotional skills through observation, practice, and reinforcement. Incorporating an SEL program into your OST setting can help make this learning intentional. 

  1. Make it S.A.F.E.

Research has identified four recommended practices OST providers should consider when creating SEL programming. These four practices form the acronym S.A.F.E. (Durlak, Weissberg, & Pachan, 2010) and suggest a program: 

  • Sequenced: use a connected and coordinated set of activities to achieve its objectives
  • Active: use active forms of learning to help kids learn and practice new skills 
  • Focused: have at least one component devoted to developing personal or social skills 
  • Explicit: target specific social-emotional skills rather than targeting positive development in general terms 
  1. Have fun!

SEL programming for OST settings can provide kids with a fun, active way to understand their emotions and build positive relationships.​ Committee for Children’s research-based SEL program designed specifically for OST settings includes 147 play-based and age-appropriate activities to keep kids engaged. All activities include embedded instructional supports for staff, and both English-language and Spanish-language versions are available. Find out more about Second Step® Out-of-School Time and get $50 off when you purchase using the code NAAOST2022. 

Written by Zena Johnson, Committee for Children