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You have probably heard a lot of buzz about social-emotional learning, or SEL. Here’s some good news:   There is significant overlap between the skills commonly described as social-emotional learning (SEL) and the protective factors of resilience. Researchers Gartrell and Cairone defined resilience, in fact, as “the ability to use social-emotional skills to overcome, or bounce back from, the effects of stress in one’s life” (Gartrell & Cairone 2014, p. 92).

But resilience, as studied by Dr. Ann Masten and others, can be even more specifically described, and doing so is really useful for early childhood educators. The protective factors that we can easily address in the classroom fall into four categories: relationships, initiative, self-regulation and executive functions, and cultural context and affirmation.

The great news is that ALL of these weave seamlessly through the developmentally appropriate practices that underpin high quality early care and education!

The National Scientific Council on the Developing Child has recommended that early childhood education be viewed as an important component of societal efforts to promote resilience in all children. While we can’t do anything about the relationship that a parent may have with his or her children, we CAN provide children with a cozy network adult and peer relationships, and lots of vibrant experiences that promote self-efficacy, self-regulation, and executive function skills. Click below for a closer look at these protective factors!

Relationships – with primary caregivers, other adults and children – are the magic fairy dust that sparkles a child with resilience.

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Initiative – being able to act on our own ideas – is the magic elixir that fuels our forward momentum towards resilience!

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Self-regulation – being able to control our actions – is the magic wand that wields great power for those who seek resilience.

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Executive functions are a collection of skills that give us the wisdom of a wizard when we are finding our way resiliently through the world!

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Our cultural context is like a magic cloak that helps us to feel secure in our own skin as we resiliently explore new domains!

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