Childhood Matters Launches The ECSEL Initiative

Updated: 4 days ago

As a former Early Childhood Educator and Director, I have always noticed a lack of

social-emotional support materials in the classroom. Teachers do their best in supporting Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) by incorporating learning practices in the curriculum. However SEL should be integrated as part of the physical learning environment and should have a center dedicated to it just like math, literacy and science.

What Is Social-Emotional Learning (SEL)?

SEL is the process by which people, both children and adults, develop the knowledge,

self-awareness and personal well-being to build the emotional competencies that help them thrive in both academics and life.

According to the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL):

“SEL is the process through which children and adults understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.”

What Is The Early Childhood Social-Emotional Learning (ECSEL) Initiative?

The Early Childhood Social-Emotional Learning (ECSEL) Initiative works to promote

social-emotional hands-on materials in the classroom to provide early intervention for children's mental health.

This initiative encourages classrooms and playrooms across the nation to include a SEL center equipped with hands on materials to allow for children to have access to tools that help them manage their emotions, self-regulate and learn how to build essential coping skills.

To kickstart this initiative, we are building a pilot program to have a few classrooms build SEL centers for the upcoming school year of 2022-2023. To support this program, we will be donating materials, with the help of other partners, to equip an entire classroom center that is devoted to social-emotional learning along with a training program on how to use the materials with the children.

What is the relationship between SEL and mental health?

SEL can be one of the most proactive initiatives for mental health illness prevention. Research indicates that focusing on social-emotional needs can help reduce anxiety, suicide, substance abuse, depression, and impulsive behavior in kids. This concentration can also help to increase test scores, attendance, and prosocial behaviors such as kindness, personal awareness, and empathy.

Positive social skills give children viable tools to regulate their emotions and make good choices about their behavior. Teaching kids coping skills, mindfulness, effective communication skills, and self-regulation gives them the resources needed to address various social, emotional, and mental health challenges that hinder learning.

How does this initiative benefit children and their mental health?

Social emotional learning activities give kids the tools they need to deal with challenging situations, cope with new environments, develop a growth mindset and develop positive relationships with their peers and beyond.

Through this initiative, we aim to equip children with the skills and competencies they need to develop resilience and effectively manage their behavior, emotions, and relationships with others.

How can you join or support this initiative?

"Alone we can do so little; Together we can do so much" ~ Hellen Keller

Be a Champion: Help us to create an awareness of this initiative by sharing this blog and our social media posts. Use the #ECSELINITIATIVE

Be a Partner: Do you make or sell SEL materials? You can partner with us to launch this initiative in some of our local classrooms by donating hands-on materials for the classrooms.

Be a Co-Pilot: Introduce a SEL center in your classroom, playroom or therapy office and share it with us.

Be a Star Sponsor: Donate an item to the initiative from a curated Amazon list. Your donation will be directly placed in a classroom that is part of the pilot program.

How to integrate social-emotional learning at home

It’s relatively easy to integrate SEL at home, but as most things do, it takes practice. Here are a few ways to incorporate social-emotional learning into your everyday routine:

  • Check-in with your child’s feelings first thing in the morning or after school. You can ask them “How are you?” or “What are you thinking about?” or “What color are you feeling like today?”

  • Teach your child the art of mindfulness.

  • Set up space for self-regulation and provide tools such as breathing cards, art materials, playdoh, fidget toys etc.

  • Allow your child to express their feelings by writing or drawing in a journal.

  • Teach them about emotions through reading.



(As of June 25, 2022)

Childhood Matters offers coping toolboxes for children to help them through big life transitions such as grief and loss, fear and anxiety, divorce, illness, hospitalization and separation anxiety. Being advocates for Early Childhood Mental Health, Childhood Matters offer free workshops on how to use coping skills with children. Childhood Matters is also available to speak about Early Childhood Mental Health at schools and other institutions. You can learn more about them at


Stories In Sensory makes sensory boxes with Learning Guides. Boxes are created around a children’s book and have lessons for different ages and skill levels. Great family activity- self regulating activity, independent play- the list goes on! Visit to view their wonderful products.


Created by an elementary educator and mom - FeelLinks set comes with four feeling dolls, each double-sided, representing eight core feelings, including: Happy/Sad, Proud/Embarrassed, Calm/Excited, and Angry/Scared. Adorable, emotive, brightly colored, soft and squeezable, FeelLinks plush dolls assist children with labeling, expressing and regulating their feelings.

FeelLinks journal empowers children to reflect and respond to their feelings; encouraging growth in identifying, understanding, and managing their feelings.

Visit to view their amazing products.


House of Doh provides carefully thought out themed play dough kits and hand painted wooden dolls. Their goal is to provide children of all ages with endless opportunities for independent play. Their dolls are hand painted with the most careful details and they only use non toxic paint and sealants. Their play dough is always vegan and made with non toxic ingredients.


Discovery Toys is the premier online kids' toys store dedicated to helping children learn and grow through Pure Play – play that is hands-on, child-directed, multi-faceted, safe, and FUN! They classify their toddler toys online by play type to highlight the primary developmental benefit of each product. They have been a trusted brand for over 40 years! For more information visit:


When three generations come together with a shared love in helping children, magic happens. Caroline McLain, Madilyn McLain and Micheline Etkin, combined their positive inner voices to empower children around the world. Shine Your Light, offers Bilingual Affirmations, and My Feelings Matter sentence completion cards. They want these to be tools, which help children nurture connections with themselves. For more information on their products ,visit them at


Pengwee’s Breath is a tender-hearted story written by author Debbie Nutley. The story is about a young penguin who learns that his own breath gives him the power to calm his fears. Enjoy the book on its own or with a companion Teaching Guide for parents and teachers that can be downloaded for free from the author's website


We would love to hear from you.

Please share your thoughts and experiences with social-emotional learning and children's mental health.

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