The Importance of Social-Emotional Learning

There is a wealth of research on the importance of understanding the emotional needs of children in the school setting. A few handpicked selections are below. Check back often for updates and links to new research and be sure to read our Harmony Research FAQs.

Summary of Research Evaluating the Sanford Harmony Program 

By Dr. David Andrews, President, National University
Intro by Shaila Mulholland, PhD

In this Summary of Research Evaluating the Sanford Harmony Program, Dr. Andrews reviews key research articles that provide important evidence to show social and emotional skills can be effectively taught in schools, which has a direct impact on improving school-related outcomes (i.e., self-esteem and academic performance), and decreasing disruptive behaviors.

Teaching Peace in Elementary School

By Julie Scelfo

Today’s schoolchildren confront an increasingly fraught testing environment, a lower tolerance for physical acting out, and the pervasive threat of violence. (President Obama last year characterized school shootings as “becoming the norm.”) Poverty and income inequality, too, create onerous emotional conditions.

How Unintentional but Insidious Bias Can Be the Most Harmful

“Microaggressions really are reflections of world views of inclusion, exclusion, superiority, inferiority, and they come out in ways that are outside the level of conscious awareness of an individual.”

Dr. Derald Wing Sue

Teachers College, Columbia University

Under Stress, Students in New York Schools Find Calm in Meditation

By Elizabeth A. Harris

In schools in New York City and in pockets around the country, the use of inward-looking practices like mindfulness and meditation are starting to grow. Though evidence is thin on how well they might work in the classroom, proponents say they can help students focus and cope with stress.

Why SEL Should Start Early

A Child’s Lifelong Self-Esteem Emerges Earlier Than We Thought

By Carolyn Gregoire

Self-esteem emerges as early as preschool (by kindergarten, a child’s self-esteem is as strong as an adult’s). Dr. Dario Cvencek, Research Scientist at the University of Washington, says the warm, supportive connections a child develops with others are probably the most important factors in fostering the development of a healthy sense of self.

How ‘Twisted’ Early Childhood Education Has Become – From a Child Development Expert

By Valerie Strauss

Nancy Carlsson-Paige is an early childhood development expert who has been at the forefront of the debate on how best to educate the youngest students. She is a professor emerita of education at Lesley University in Cambridge, Ma., where she taught teachers for more than 30 years and was a founder of the university’s Center for Peaceable Schools. She is also a founding member of a nonprofit called, Defending the Early Years, which commissions research about early childhood education and advocates for sane policies for young children.

Inspiring Teachers

Five Ways to Restore Humanity to the Classroom

By Vicki Zakrzewski

Throughout the country, teachers are resisting the testing paradigm by putting those person-to-person bonds first. In a New York City high school classroom of newly arrived immigrant students, one educator is using simple mindfulness and social-emotional practices to relate to her students as human beings—profoundly transforming her work as a teacher and, at the same time, deepening her students’ learning.