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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

SEL and different ages

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A number of questions came in to the 2/25 SEL webinar on the topic of age and appropriate SEL practices for different ages. Is there any ideal age to start SEL with? --Fabian L. Montes. Languages coordinator.
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Betty Ray's picture
Betty Ray
Director of Programming and Innovation

In the webinar, Kati Delahanty mentioned that she uses circles and talking pieces to discuss difficult issues in the classroom (This is from the Native American tradition). This question references this:

Kati - Do you suggest using these circles in an elementary classroom as well?
- Mandy Barahona

Betty Ray's picture
Betty Ray
Director of Programming and Innovation

Another question about the applicability SEL to elementary grades:

Kati, Are there applications for 4th graders?
-- Tom, 4th Grade Teacher, Ontario, Southern Calif.

Heather Gallant's picture
Heather Gallant
Communications & Training Coordinator, Open Circle, a nonprofit SEL program

Dear Mandy and Tom,
"Circles" are absolutely critical in elementary grades! Our program, Open Circle, uses Open Circle Meetings to teach social and emotional skills to children in grades K-5 through their teachers, who we train to use our grade-differentiated curriculum. Our program covers both components of CASEL's recommendations for high-quality SEL instruction: community-building and intentionally teaching SEL skills.

You can read more about Open Circle on our website at or download a fact sheet at Enjoy!

Kati Delahanty's picture

I agree (based on what I have seen in the elementary schools in Boston) that circles are incredibly effective and important in the elementary grades! It sets them up to learn and listen in this way, and makes being a part of a supportive and serious community a natural (and integral) part of their educational experience early on.

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