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social and emotional learning

Social & Emotional Learning (SEL) Initiative

Professional development for teachers, administrators and early care professionals.

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“Love causes learning.”

— Amanda Moreno, PhD, Director of SEL Initiative

Love Causes Learning

That is the philosophy statement behind the SEL Initiative at Erikson Institute.

We conduct professional development with teachers and school staff, direct service with children and parents, and research to help schools become more compassionate and productive places, from top to bottom. We specialize in using whole-child development principles, brain science, and culturally-responsive and trauma-sensitive lenses to infuse SEL and mindfulness strategies as a natural part of the school day rather than an “add-on.”

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Benefits of SEL

Classrooms and schools are incredibly complex environments where children and adults alike are constantly learning – not just about reading and math – but also about relationships. Regardless of where a school is located or the community influences that a child experiences, children can’t isolate their academic brain and leave their emotional brain behind.

humanity and belongings poster

Addressing the whole child with Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) provides the foundation for students’ academic performance and the development of skills that will serve them throughout their lifetime:

  • Self-awareness
  • Inter-personal and decision-making skills
  • Resilience

When these critical skills are prioritized in schools, adults and children learn that they matter, that they care and are cared about, and that they can overcome challenges.

Outcomes for PreK and Early Grades Classrooms

We invite you to partner with us on SEL


  • Connectedness and sense of belonging between teachers and students
  • Children’s engagement in learning; creating lifelong learner identities through connection to teacher, peers, and activities
  • Kindness and compassion at all levels
  • Children’s self-regulation including calming down, attention skills, and problem-solving
  • Teacher’s presence, attunement, and non-reactivity


  • Teacher and staff stress by helping to find balance points between the inevitable ups and downs of the school day
  • Impacts of home and community stress on learning
  • Teacher-led and child-initiated activities and discussion
  • Behavioral disruptions by speeding up “recovery time” from classroom upsets
  • Classroom conflicts, bullying, and exclusion

Services Offered from Erikson’s SEL Initiative

Trainings, Workshops & Coaching

  • Teachers
  • Leadership
  • Auxiliary Staff
  • District-Wide
  • Parents
  • Speaking Engagements

Calm Spot App

  • Tablet Set-Up
  • Teacher Training
  • Child Training

Calm Community

(Mindfulness-Based SEL Curriculum)

  • Direct Facilitation
  • Co-Teaching
  • SEL Vocabulary Lessons


  • Implementation
  • Needs Assessments
  • Consultation for Programming


What does high-quality SEL in the early years look like?

The SEL Initiative conducts research along two main lines:

  1. Original research in schools and other learning settings to advance the SEL field and test innovations that improve outcomes (for children and adults) and ease implementation.
  2. Evaluation support around your ongoing programs, practices, and innovations. In both cases, we intend to help build the repertoire of easily visualized best practices—because if you can’t picture it, you can’t do it.
Self Compassion Leaf
Ms. W
1st Grade Teacher
“ When my father died, my students showed me compassion, something we talked about in our Calm Community lessons, and it really helped me when I needed to be present for them. ”
people gathered in the city
Patricia (Trish) Jennings PhD
Associate Professor University Of Virginia, Lead Developer And Researcher Of CARE For Teachers
“ Erikson’s mindfulness in the schools project provided young students and teachers an unprecedented level of access to strategies that have been shown to create more peace and engagement in classrooms. ”
girls sitting on green chairs working on their tablets
1st Grade Student
“ I used the Calm Spot every day. Sometimes things happened at home before school. Then I felt calm and ready to learn. ”

We Are an IL-EMPOWER Approved Learning Partner