Sequenced, active, focused and explicit programs contribute to kids’ social and emotional learning

New Michigan State University Extension resource uses this approach to address and prevent bullying in out of school time settings.

Research shows that young people benefit from programs that intentionally focus on social and emotional learning and health. According to the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), carefully executed programs offered during out of school time (as well as during the regular school day) improve positive behaviors and academic learning, as well as reduce disruptive behavior and emotional distress.

Social and emotional learning is the process through which young people (and adults!) develop self-awareness, learn to navigate their emotional lives, establish and maintain positive relationships and demonstrate care and concern for others. CASEL’s research shows that programs that make a positive difference incorporate “SAFE” approaches and are sequenced, active, focused and explicit. In other words, programs that guide young people through a sequential series of engaging activities focused on the development of specific skills were shown to be most effective.

Those working with young people between the ages of 11 and 14 now have a new resource available to them to incorporate these sequenced, active, focused and explicit approaches into the settings in which they work with youth. Michigan State University Extension recently released a new research-based resource called Be SAFE: Safe, Affirming and Fair Environments, which is designed to promote social and emotional learning and development while addressing issues of bullying.

Be SAFE provides the tools adults need to create caring and safe learning environments by tapping the wisdom and assets of young people – as well as encourages opportunities to strengthen relationships between youth and adults. Adults are urged to involve teen leaders when appropriate to help guide kids (and the adults who work with them) through a series of sequential activities. Be SAFE intentionally and specifically focuses on understanding bullying and cyberbullying, developing emotional and social intelligence, understanding human differences, learning to be allies to each other, keeping ourselves safe and developing critical awareness of the impacts of the media on the development of youth and adults.

You can download a free PDF of the 32-page Introduction section of Be SAFE or order a copy of the 224-page curriculum at the MSU Extension Bookstore.

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