The purpose of the study was to examine the mediating role of academic resilience (i.e., the coping level of an individual who experiences adverse academic events) in the relationship between

adolescents’ social-emotional learning competencies and life satisfaction.

The Relationship between Social Emotional Learning and Life Satisfaction


Benefits of Social Emotional Learning

The benefits of social and emotional learning (SEL) are well-researched, with evidence demonstrating that an education that promotes SEL leads to beneficial outcomes in SEL competencies, attitude about self & school, conduct problems, emotional distress, and academic performance ( The Collaborative on Social-Emotional Learning (CASEL) organization defines five SEL core competencies: 1) self-awareness, 2) self-management, 3) responsible decision-making, 4) relationship skills, and 5) social awareness (Weissberg et al., 2015). 

Research suggests that social-emotional learning competencies and academic resilience predict well-being and life satisfaction. 

The Importance of Academic Resilience

Three hundred seventy-one high school students between the ages of 14 and 19 participated in this study. Participants completed 3 rating scales, and the results were analyzed to evaluate the relationships between SEL Core competencies, satisfaction with life, and academic resilience variables. Aligning with previous research, the results of the current study provide further evidence that: 1) SEL Core Competencies predict life satisfaction and 2) SEL Core Competencies predict academic resilience, and academic resilience predicts life satisfaction (i.e., rendering academic resilience a mediator between SEL Core competencies and life satisfaction).

The Need for Activities that Build Academic Resilience

These findings highlight the importance of incorporating activities that build academic resilience when developing SEL programming.

Notable Quotes: 

“As a result of this study, it was concluded that the academic resilience component is so important in the effectiveness of social-emotional learning competencies predicting life satisfaction.” “The mediator role of academic resilience in the relationship between social-emotional learning competencies and life satisfaction indicates that more attention should be paid to the academic aspect of resilience.”

Personal Takeaway: 

I found this study to be fascinating and would be very interested in learning techniques on how to increase academic resilience in students, as it is an essential factor in predicting life satisfaction.—Ashley Parnell

Turan, M. E. (2021). The Relationship between Social Emotional Learning Competencies and Life Satisfaction in Adolescents: Mediating Role of Academic Resilience. International Online Journal of Educational Sciences, 13(4).

This study was conducted in order to identify practical ways for teachers to create a socially inclusive environment for children who demonstrate persistent challenging behaviors (PCBs) and/or who have social-emotional delays.

Main Reasons for the Challenging Behavior

The existing research suggests that there are two main reasons why some children demonstrate persistent challenging behaviors:

1) They are enrolled in school before they have developed the social-emotional readiness for the demands of group care, including managing emotions and getting along with peers.

2) They have delays in other developmental areas, such as play skills, speech and language development, and motor development.

Furthermore, there is a growing body of evidence to show that children who demonstrate PCBs are vulnerable to significant long-term effects from exclusionary disciplinary practices such as suspension and expulsion, along with a higher risk of academic difficulties leading to grade retention. Children who engage in PCBs typically find the social-emotional skill gap widening as they progress through school.

Recommendations for Working With Children With Challenging Behavior

This paper puts forth the authors’ recommendations, based on extant research, on the best practices that early childhood teachers can adopt to create an inclusive, prosocial environment for children with PCBs. They describe interventions that can be put into practice immediately, including example “scripts” for how these can be rolled out in the classroom. The authors recommend the following classroom-based supports for working with children who engage in PCBs:

  • Ensure equitable and active participation for these children in the social milieu of the classroom through facilitation of the appropriate social interactions. This must be explicitly modeled by the teacher through role play, ideally utilizing the child who struggles with PCB as a partner so that their peers view them as an example of prosocial behavior.
  • During any social skills instruction, teaching should take place in three phases: first, the teacher introduces the expected behavior and explains its importance; second, the teacher models the social skill and allows the children to practice it; and third, the teacher provides ongoing corrective feedback and behavior-specific praise. 
  • Classroom activities should be carefully planned to incorporate a variety of social interaction types and to be inclusive of children who demonstrate PCBs. Considering the background experiences of these children as well as their interests and abilities can make or break participation. Equally important is creating a physically intuitive and well-organized classroom that allows for both large- and small-group activities.

The Benefits of Creating an Inclusive Environment

Teachers who seek to create a socially inclusive environment – meaning one that actively integrates children with PCBs into the classroom community, ensures that they have equitable opportunities to participate in social activities, and promotes positive and reciprocal social relationships with peers and adults alike – can expect to see a decrease in PCB.

With this in mind, researchers and policy-makers would do well to consider the professional development needs of early childhood educators, providing more opportunities for teachers to engage in training specific to the social inclusion of children with PCB.

Notable Quotes: 

“As children age, the skill gap related to social-emotional functioning widens for children who engage in PCBs, leaving them at higher risk of being referred to special education and/or retention.”

“Despite the use of exclusionary disciplinary practices with children, there is no evidence to show that they decrease PCBs (Meek et al., 2020). Instead, the consequence of suspension on children who engage in PCBs is decreased time in the classroom (Loson and Gillespie, 2012) which can be detrimental to their social-emotional development (Skiba et al., 2014).”

“Schools and classrooms that promote positive climates report lower rates of PCBs and suspensions, which is important for children to feel welcomed and have an environment where they are able to develop prosocial behaviors (Farmer et al., 2018; Merritt et al., 2012; Skiba et al., 2014).”

Personal Takeaway

The notion that children benefit from discrete and explicit instruction for social skills is not new, but one that truly benefits from repeating. The current paper presents highly practical advice for teachers seeking to implement this type of instruction in their classrooms, with details on when and how such teaching could take place. Early childhood educators may be reassured to know that these techniques, which may be familiar to them already, are backed by rigorous research evidence. I would argue that these strategies can also be applied to older struggling students.


Akane Yoshida

Summarized Article:

McGuire, S. N., & Meadan, H. (2022). Social Inclusion of Children with Persistent Challenging Behaviors. Early Childhood Education Journal, 50(1), 61-69.

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While there are many studies out there that examine the general intrinsic motivation for physical activity, little research has been done on emotions as a crucial factor in understanding student motivation in a PE setting. By considering the students’ subjective emotional experiences, a more holistic understanding of physical activity behavior change and why students are not getting enough daily physical activity can be better understood.

The levels of physical activity in school-aged children  

In Germany, only 22.4% of girls and 29.4% of boys aged 3 to 17 reach the WHO guideline of physical activity, and their physical activity significantly decreases from age 3 to 17. Therefore, a deeper understanding of emotions among students during physical activity will better inform what is triggering their regular physical activity during leisure time. In addition, the control-value theory of learning and achievement emotions serves as an appropriate and established theoretical framework, as it presents antecedents and outcomes of emotions in school settings.

The benefits of perceived autonomy supports in student self-efficacy  

The sample consisted of 1030 student participants between 11 and 18 years who attended Grades 6 to 10 of the German Mittelschule, which is a type of school with the lowest educational level among secondary schools in Germany. 408 participants were female (39.6%), and 622 participants were male (60.4%). Whether or not the PE teacher was perceived to be providing cognitive autonomy and organizational autonomy supports positively predicted students’ academic self-efficacy in PE.

Furthermore, the students’ academic self-efficacy in PE positively predicted their enjoyment in PE, which had a negative effect on their anxiety in PE. The intrinsic value that students identified in PE also positively predicted students’ enjoyment and negatively predicted their anxiety.

The students’ enjoyment in PE was a positive predictor of their physical activity during leisure time.

Finally, perceived cognitive autonomy support provided by the PE teacher positively predicted students’ physical activity in leisure time via students’ PE-related academic self-efficacy, intrinsic value, enjoyment and anxiety.

Creating positive emotional experiences  

If students are provided the opportunity to influence their learning environment, they tend to have higher action-control expectancies and assign more relevance to their PE class. PE can be seen as a potentially powerful platform for the promotion of leisure-time physical activity, especially if it is conducted in a way that evokes regular positive achievement emotions in students while keeping negative ones on a minor level. This study suggests a substantial potential of emotional experiences in PE as a powerful predictor of physical behavior outside of school.

Notable Quotes: 

“Positive emotional experiences in PE could be seen as a main factor to increase physical activity in a lifelong perspective and could thus help students to improve their overall health.”

“PE teachers have the opportunity to create positive emotional experiences for students and to reduce the experience of negative emotions by use of autonomy-supportive teaching strategies.”

“PE exhibits the potential to affect students’ thoughts and feelings related to PE in leisure time and thus is a promising starting point for children and adolescents with regard to an active lifestyle in the long term.”

Personal Takeaway:

As special educators, we tend to focus on our students’ core subjects. We may easily forget the importance of PE and how emotions can play a big role in their motivation to do well in their physical activity. The findings of this study allow me to attend to the students’ emotional experience during physical activity in recess and PE classes. It will also allow me to use autonomy-supportive teaching strategies by considering the environment and creating opportunities in the classroom for physical activities they enjoy.


Michael Ho

Summarized Article: 

Zimmermann, J.; Tilga, H.; Bachner, J.; Demetriou, Y. The Effect of Teacher Autonomy Support on Leisure-Time Physical Activity via Cognitive Appraisals and Achievement Emotions: A Mediation Analysis Based on the Control-Value Theory. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18, 3987.

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Key Takeaway
In order to ensure that the therapy a child receives at school is effective, the needs of both the child and the parent must be considered. When providing therapeutic supports, it is crucial that all stakeholders have a shared level of respect and trust and that a foundation of transparent communication is built to ensure the best possible outcome for children with special education needs. Therapeutic Supports for Children in Schools: Are We Addressing Parental Needs Too?
Frankie Garbutt

Parental Needs During School-Based Therapy

Murphy and Risser (Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine) acknowledge that parental/guardian engagement in therapeutic service for children with disabilities could optimize the delivery of those therapeutic services. Therefore, “this study examines what needs parents identify as important when engaging with school based therapies and how well these needs are being met.”  

As services and providers can vary across the U.S., the authors only recruited a small number of participants (initially 47) living in the state of Illinois. Moreover, the authors chose “to recruit parents of children with Individual Education Programs (IEPs), as opposed to parents of children with disabilities, to ensure that the children in question were receiving formal special education services.” All parents completed three questionnaires which provided the data for this study. The questionnaires provided are as follows: Child Demographics Measure, Needs of Parents Questionnaire, and Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire.

Questionnaire Results: Unmet Needs and Key Principles

The data revealed that parents perceived their needs related to their child’s school-based therapy as important but largely unmet. This seems particularly true for families of color. The authors highlight that “while these analyses do not provide insight into the disparities faced by specific racial and ethnic groups, they provide information about potential mechanisms for disparities, and can inform policies and practices to improve equitable access to school-based therapeutic services” as reflected in the literature relating to special education and disabilities services.   

Key principles which could be used to support parents are:

  • “positive, respectful, and understandable communication;
  • commitment to the child and the family; 
  • equal power in making decisions and implementing services; 
  • provider competence in implementing and  achieving goals; 
  • mutual trust; and 
  • mutual respect.”

Furthermore, the data from the study suggests that parents whose children displayed social-emotional and behavioral difficulties felt their needs were not met. “Parents who must manage a child’s challenging behavior, lack of social skills, and social isolation might also need additional support from service providers to  engage in therapies and to fully support their child.” 

Although the study identifies important aspects that ought to be considered when engaging parents with their children’s therapists, it also has limitations, namely a small sample size and a lack of diversity in the demographics of participants, as this study was limited to wealthy families rather than a range of economic backgrounds. In addition, the participants were already involved and knowledgeable about their child’s needs, and thus further studies would help to investigate representatives of the general population. 

Summarized Article: Murphy, A. N., & Risser, H. J. (2022). Perceived parent needs in engaging with therapeutic supports for children with disabilities in school settings: An exploratory study. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 123, 104183.
Summary by: Frankie Garbutt – Frankie believes that the MARIO Framework encourages students to become reflective, independent learners who progress at their own rate.

Key Takeaway: 

Social and emotional learning (SEL) is necessary for the academic achievement of a student and for their future success in many aspects of their lives. Ensuring that SEL is taught with fidelity is a goal for many schools and depends not only on instructional support, but other factors such as years of teaching, and rigorous classroom management. —Shekufeh Monadjem

The Importance of Social and Emotional Learning

Students learn best when they are in a caring and safe environment, where they have trusting relationships with their teachers and peers. These relationships promote the development of social and emotional skills that are crucial for “academic achievement and life success.”1 In their study, Thierry, Vincent, and Norris (2022) explained that in order to foster social and emotional learning (SEL) among students, they suggest using the National Commission on Social, Emotional and Academic Development’s (2018) recommendations for districts and schools. One of these recommendations is the adoption of an evidence-based SEL curriculum for the explicit instruction of social and emotional skills.

The Importance of Using Fidelity When Implementing Curriculum

One major factor to consider when introducing a new curriculum is ensuring that it is being used with fidelity, in order for students to make the maximum gains. A number of research reviews confirm that SEL curricula when implemented with “high levels of fidelity are more likely to improve students’ social-emotional competence and academic performance.”2 

Other important factors are the socio-emotional competency levels of teachers and their ability to build positive relationships with students. This is based on five core competencies:

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-management
  • Social awareness
  • Relationship skills 
  • Responsible decision-making

Building positive relationships with students requires teachers to be skilled in all competencies. 


Sixty pre-kindergarten to 1st-grade teachers participated in this US-based study from 7 schools. 52% of the participants were African-American, 30% White, and 18% Hispanic. The following teacher-level predictors were examined over the period of the first month in which the curriculum was implemented: “1) teacher demographics, including ethnicity/race and years of teaching experience; 2) self-efficacy for managing classroom behavior; 3) emotional support; 4) classroom organization; and 5) instructional support.”

The scoring system used was the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS), which has shown to be a valid and reliable tool that “essentially operationalizes positive teacher-student relationships according to specific interactions that teachers have in capturing the following three domains of teacher-student interactions: (1) emotional support, (2) classroom organization, and (3) instructional support.”3 Independent observers assessed teachers on these interactions during the initial month of the curriculum.


Teachers with “greater pre-implementation classroom management self-efficacy and more teaching experience had higher adherence to the curriculum” and therefore had higher levels of fidelity. Hispanic teachers who taught bilingual classes were less likely than White, non-Hispanic teachers to adhere to the curriculum schedule, as they needed more implementation support to match their caseload. Instructional support proved to be the only positive predictor of the quality of lesson delivery.

Limitations of the Study

One limitation of the study was the small sample size, and another was that only the initial fidelity of the first month of the implementation of the curriculum was measured, not the long-term delivery.

Summarized Article:

Thierry, K. L., Vincent, R. L., & Norris, K. (2022). Teacher-level predictors of the fidelity of implementation of a social-emotional learning curriculum. Early Education and Development, 33(1), 92-106.

Summary by: Shekufeh Monadjem – Shekufeh believes that the MARIO Framework builds relationships that enable students to view the world in a positive light as well as enabling them to create plans that ultimately lead to their success. 

Additional References:

  1. Jones, D. E., Greenberg, M., & Crowley, M. (2015). Early social emotional functioning and public health: The relationship between kindergarten social competence and future wellness. Journal of Public Health, 105(11), 2283–2290.
  2. Derzon, J. H., Sale, E., Springer, J. F., & Brounstein, P. (2005). Estimating intervention effectiveness: Synthetic projection of field evaluation results. Journal of Primary Prevention, 26(4), 321–343.
  3. Burchinal, M., Vandergrift, N., Pianta, R. C., & Mashburn, A. J. (2010). Threshold analysis of association between child care quality and child outcomes for low-income children in pre-kindergarten programs. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 25(2), 166–176.

Key Takeaway:

School-wide interventions that reduce bullying can also reduce school attendance problems. Interventions in this area should also be targeted towards autistic youth as they experience a high rate of school refusal linked to the bullying occurring in school settings. Identification of attributes such as the ability to maintain control when angry and the ability to control negative thoughts can help protect this population from school refusal and may be a potential pathway for effective interventions.—Ayla Reau 

School Refusal

School refusal (SR) is “characterized by a young person’s reluctance or refusal to attend school in conjunction with emotional distress.” This is typically measured on a threshold for absence or difficulty attending over a certain period. Emerging school refusal (ESR) is the term used to describe the period before these thresholds are reached. Absence from school can negatively impact “academic achievement and socio-emotional outcomes, contribute to family stress, and place extra burden on school staff,” so early intervention is key for students exhibiting ESR. 

Bullying, ASD, and Psychological Resilience

It is widely accepted that being bullied is associated with SR in youth. Youth with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are especially vulnerable to bullying in mainstream settings, which could explain the “high rate of SR among autistic youth.” Therefore, there is a need for interventions that reduce SR and ESR among bullied youth. 

“Psychological resilience refers to an individual’s capacity to resist the harmful effects of adverse stressors and to resume functioning despite them.” It has been associated with “reduced anxiety and depression among autistic boys, parents who have an autistic child, and non-autistic siblings of a young autistic person.” The current study focuses on the link between psychological resilience and ESR in bullied autistic youth, and data was collected through an online questionnaire completed by 58 young autistic males. 

Major Findings

  • 56% of bullied autistic youth asked their parents to stay home from school because of bullying (ie. displayed ESR). 
  • A significant inverse relationship (one increases, the other decreases) was found between ESR and two aspects of psychological resilience: the ability to maintain control when angry and the ability to control negative thoughts.
  • No statistical relationship was found between psychological resilience and ESR in elementary school children. 

Overall, the “identification of attributes that can help protect bullied autistic youth from engaging in school refusal may be a potential pathway to effective interventions for these young people.” Further studies are needed to determine whether psychological resilience acts as a protective factor against ESR and SR in bullied autistic youth and/or whether the experience of bullying leads to increased resilience and a decreased likelihood of SR happening over time. Regardless, educators and school administrators should carry out school-wide interventions that reduce bullying in order to reduce school attendance problems and foster a sense of well-being and safety at school. 

Summarized Article:

Bitsika, V., Heyne, D. A., & Sharpley, C. F. (2022). The inverse association between psychological resilience and emerging school refusal among bullied autistic youth. Research in developmental disabilities, 120, 104121. 

Summary by: Ayla Reau—Ayla is excited to help continue to grow the MARIO Framework, seeing the potential for it to impact all students across any educational context.

Key Takeaway:

The more frequently and longer students spend time online, the lower the ratings of self-regulation in digital contexts. Yet, parental control and explicit teaching of digital skills can positively impact self-regulation. Technology in the classroom can enhance motivation, collaboration with peers, and engagement; however, it is not clear if the tools hamper skills like attention and self-regulation. —Frankie Garbutt

It is argued that social-emotional skills such as empathy, perspective, self-control and self-regulation are essential skills in the 21st century. However, one must consider how teaching these skills might need to be adapted at home and in school when today’s children have constant access to social media and the internet, requiring a new approach to self-regulation and self-control. The author of this study set out to find “what benefits for, and risks to, students’ cognitive and social and emotional skills are created by ubiquitous access.”

Self-rating is a means to examine the development of social-emotional skills. It “measures extraversion (sociability, engages in class activities), agreeableness  (empathy, wants to help), conscientiousness (self-regulation, perseveres at activities), neuroticism (framed positively as emotional stability), and openness to experience (curiosity, appreciates new experiences).” Technology in the classroom can enhance motivation, collaboration with peers, and engagement, but it is not clear if the tools hamper skills like attention and self-regulation. At home, students’ use of digital tools is largely impacted by “time spent online, types of activities, and parental guidance.” 

Changes in Self-Regulation and Social Skills Due to Technology Use

Initially, the results related to social skills showed a downward trend in the skills of self-regulation in digital and non-digital context, whereas the other skills seemed to not be affected because “ratings of the dimensions most clearly related to social skills, extraversion, and agreeableness did not have a consistent trend.“ The results of the study showed five trends:

  • “Self-regulation in digital contexts was significantly lower (M = 3.05, UL = 3.19) than the equivalent measures in non-digital.“
  • “This pattern of lower self-regulation in digital contexts compared with non-digital contexts was consistent across the ages.”
  • “Ratings of social skills tended to be higher than those for self-regulation.”
  • “Last, ratings of self-regulation in digital contexts appeared to be unrelated to personality dimensions and social skills generally.” 

Implications for Schools

The authors discussed that schools can be beneficial when teaching children about self-regulation in a digital context because metacognitive skills and self-regulation are skills consistently taught, which can respectively support the students’ use of digital tools. 

Moreover, “like self-regulation, the community of practice involving parents, teachers, and students had a focus on positive online interactions. In contrast, engaging in social media activities at home was associated with higher ratings of social skills in digital (but not in non-digital) contexts.”

Overall, schools are an environment in which students can learn valuable skills, such as self-regulation and social skills, in the ever increasing digital world when complimented by parental involvement and guidance at home. The authors suggest that further research should investigate how parents and schools can respectively support the building of these skills. 

Summarized Article:

McNaughton, S., Zhu, T., Rosedale, N., Jesson, R., Oldehaver, J., & Williamson, R. (2022). In school and out of school digital use and the development of children’s self‐regulation and social skills. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 92(1), 236-257.

Summary by: Frankie Garbutt – Frankie believes that the MARIO Framework encourages students to become reflective, independent learners who progress at their own rate.

Key Takeaway:

Research has recently focused on how the Covid-19 pandemic has negatively affected the mental health of the population, especially amongst adolescents. But the flip side is now being observed — in families where strength-based parenting is practiced, young people are actually thriving and building resilience from the challenges imposed on them in the past two years. —Shekufeh Monadjem

This study by Allen et al. (2022) examined the psychosocial factors that “influence the capacity of adolescents to grow through the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

Research focus on mental health

“As daily routines and social connectivity have become increasingly disrupted by mounting restrictions, both the media and academic research have focused on the mental health of populations affected by the pandemic.” Recent studies have “demonstrated symptoms of increased stress and mental illness in the general population when compared to pre-pandemic times, particularly in children and adolescents.”1 Adolescents are particularly vulnerable to being negatively impacted by major changes in their world, as they are going through a critical period of identity formation founded on building connections with peers. “It is not surprising, therefore, that the restrictions and disruptions stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic have compromised the mental health of young people.”2

Positive stress-induced growth 

However, according to Ord et al. (2020),3 compelling research suggests that stress is not always a negative influence and that people, including children and adolescents, can grow and thrive as a result of times of stress. This idea has received less research attention, and according to Bruining et al. (2020)4 “if studies continue to focus on morbidity, an understanding of how people cope and grow through this pandemic will not be achieved.”

While schools, offices, and shops have been closed, walks in nature have continued to be permitted, with recent research indicating that “adolescents who spend more time engaging in outdoor activities during lockdowns experience smaller declines in subjective wellbeing and show greater resilience to COVID-19 related stress.”5 Increased family time, decreased daily stress, and a reduction in sensory stimulation are additional identified benefits of COVID-19, with these family, environmental, and lifestyle changes being linked to “a decrease in child and adolescent mental illness symptoms and an improvement in wellbeing.”4

Strength-based parenting (SBP)

Parenting plays a large role in how young people react to difficulties; SBP is a style of parenting that seeks to identify and cultivate positive states and qualities in one’s children. Parents who practice SBP: “(a) recognize what their child can do well and (b) support their child to practice and cultivate their known and unrealized strengths.”6 Research collected in teenage samples shows that SBP is “positively related to life satisfaction, self-confidence, subjective well-being, and positive emotions, and negatively related to (e.g., is protective against) anxiety, depression, stress, and negative emotions.”7 According to Unicef (2020),2 SBP plays an important role in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic in which adolescents are experiencing increased symptoms of mental illness and parents and children are spending more time at home on account of lockdown. Teenagers are now relying heavily on their parents for vital sources of support. This heightened reliance on parents means that the style of parenting received during lockdown is likely to have a significant impact on the degree to which an adolescent is able to grow through the stress they are experiencing.


Overall, the study found that there was a direct correlation between strength-based parenting (SBP) and stress-related growth, particularly during the time of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Summarized Article:

Allen, K. A., Waters, L., Arslan, G., & Prentice, M. (2022). Strength-based parenting and stress-related growth in adolescents: Exploring the role of positive reappraisal, school belonging, and emotional processing during the pandemic. Journal of Adolescence, 1–15.

Summary by: Shekufeh Monadjem –  Shekufeh believes that the MARIO Framework builds relationships that enable students to view the world in a positive light as well as enabling them to create plans that ultimately lead to their success. 

Additional References:

  1. World Health Organization (WHO). (2020). Adolescent mental health fact sheet.
  2. United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF). (2020). “Living in limbo”: The views of young people in Australia at the start of the COVID‐19 pandemic and national response.
  3. Ord, A. S., Stranahan, K. R., Hurley, R. A., & Taber, K. H. (2020). Stress‐related growth: Building a more resilient brain. The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, 32(3), A4–A212.
  4. Bruining, H., Bartels, M., Polderman, T. J. C., & Popma, A. (2020). COVID‐19 and child and adolescent psychiatry: An unexpected blessing for part of our population? European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 30(7), 1139–1140.
  5. Jackson, S. B., Stevenson, K. T., Larson, L. R., Peterson, M. N., & Seekamp, E. (2021). Outdoor activity participation improves adolescents’ mental health and wellbeing during the COVID‐19 pandemic. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(5), 2506.
  6. Arslan, G., Allen, K.‐A., & Waters, L. E. (2020). Strength‐based parenting and academic motivation in adolescents during COVID‐19 pandemic: Exploring the effect of school belonging and strength use. [Unpublished manuscript].
  7. Jach, H. K., Sun, J., Loton, D., Chin, T. C., & Waters, L. E. (2018). Strengths and subjective wellbeing in adolescence: Strength-based parenting and the moderating effect of mindset. Journal of Happiness Studies, 19(2), 567-586.

Key Takeaway: 

Social and emotional learning (SEL) should be explicitly taught in schools, especially in secondary schools. SEL competencies can lead to improved peer relationships, heightened resilience, and a more positive school climate among secondary school students. It also empowers students who have been subjected to varying degrees of peer victimization. —Shekufeh Monadjem

The Benefits of Social-Emotional Learning

Social and emotional learning (SEL) strives to create “a preventative school-based framework which aims to promote resiliency and a positive school climate,” and is quickly becoming an essential part of school curricula.1 “Teaching SEL skills to youth within schools has been linked with increased social skills, academic performance, and reduced mental health problems and behaviour problems among students.”2

This study by Fredrick and Jenkins (2021) sought to examine the relationship between student perception of SEL skills taught through SEL instruction and peer relationships. 228 racially diverse participants from Grades 8-12 were included in the study.

The Benefits of Explicit SEL Instruction

Results showed that “SEL instruction was positively related to student SEL skills and positive perceptions of peer relationships, and the strengths of these associations were similar across boys and girls. In addition, these associations were similar for youth experiencing low, moderate, and high levels of victimization, but were especially robust for the high-victimization group.”

In addition to promoting student SEL skills, another purpose of SEL instruction is to “promote positive peer relationships and this may be especially important among high school students, given the value that adolescents place on friendships.”3 A critical aspect of school climate and culture are students’ perceptions of whether classmates treat each other with respect and inclusivity. Positive peer relationships are more evident in schools and classrooms where “teachers and staff provide social-emotional support, utilize curricula and activities which foster social interactions, and where adults model respectful and caring behaviour.”3 Research has supported a link between the teaching of SEL skills and positive peer relationships, as well as a reduction in aggressive behaviour and homophobic name-calling.

Previous research had shown that efforts to promote a positive school climate may have been harmful to students who continued to experience peer victimization.3 In contrast to previous research, findings from the current study revealed that SEL instruction was positively related to heightened SEL skills and positive peer relationships for both boys and girls, and these findings were more robust for students experiencing high levels of peer victimization.

Summarized Article:

Fredrick, S. S., & Jenkins, L. N. (2021). Social Emotional Learning and Peer Victimization Among Secondary School Students. International Journal of Bullying Prevention, 1-11.

Summary by: Shekufeh Monadjem –  Shekufeh believes that the MARIO Framework builds relationships that enable students to view the world in a positive light as well as enabling them to create plans that ultimately lead to their success.

Additional References:

  1. Shek, D. T., Dou, D., Zhu, X., & Chai, W. (2019). Positive youth development: Current perspectives. Adolescent Health, Medicine and Therapeutics, 10, 131–141.
  2. Bear, G. G., Yang, C., Mantz, L. S., & Harris, A. B. (2017). School-wide practices associated with school climate in elementary, middle, and high schools. Teaching and Teacher Education, 63, 372–383.
  3. Bear, G. G. (2020). Improving school climate: Practical strategies to reduce behaviour problems and promote social and emotional learning. Routledge Taylor & Francis Group.
  4. Garandeau, C. F., Lee, I. A., & Salmivalli, C. (2018). Decreases in the proportion of bullying victims in the classroom: Efects on the adjustment of remaining victims. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 42, 64–72.

Key Takeaway:

In order to support early childhood learners, parents and teachers have to work hand-in-hand to ensure that the child is receiving the care they need to be successful in school. Having a teacher that focuses on care is more important for parents than any academic focus. —Shekufeh Monadjem

In the early childhood education community, the importance of working with families and forming relationships with them is a longstanding pillar. This qualitative study by Luke, Vail, Roulston and Clees (University of Georgia, 2021) examined parents’ expectations of their “journey into special education and their relationships with special education preschool teachers.”

Student-Teacher Relationships for Students with Disabilities 

“Researchers in the field of early childhood emphasize the importance of parents and teachers working together”1 and “early childhood professional organizations have made this relationship a matter of ethical responsibility.”2,3 Ultimately, there appears to be “better outcomes for all young children when their parents and teachers work together.”1,2 

Family-centered practice has been the cornerstone for educating young children for the past few decades1 and some of the strategies used to build caring and trusting relationships with families of children have been “identifying families’ strengths, valuing diversity in the classroom environment, learning about what families like to do, respecting parents’ knowledge, and using parents’ ideas and feedback.” 

However, this is not the case with families of children with disabilities. Despite the emphasis on family-centered practice in the “literature, legislation, and professional associations, practitioners continue to struggle to build these partnerships with the families of children with disabilities.”4 

Parent Values in a Student-Teacher Relationship

Although findings from studies related to family-centered practices for young children without disabilities are certainly applicable to working with young children in general, young children with disabilities have exceptional factors that ought to be scrutinized more closely.5 For example, many have limited communication skills, and their families must rely on teachers for more specific information about what takes place at school rather than hearing about it from their children. 

Over the years, researchers have identified family-centered parent-teacher relationships as relationships characterized by “mutual respect, flexibility and responsive interactions,”6 ”trust,”7 and “collaborative problem solving.”8 Furthermore, teachers’ professional competence, skill, and communication are of great concern to families and “contribute to parents’ positive perceptions of parent-teacher relationships.”9 

Recently, in the field of early childhood education, Rattenborg et al. (2019)10 found that “parents of typically developing children desired bidirectional communication rather than task-oriented advice.” According to the authors, participants in this study did not “emphasize an expressed desire for their children’s teachers to give them lists of things to do or homework to complete, but rather participants focused on the caring nature of the communication between themselves and their children’s teachers.” They also “focused on their expectations for how teachers should show care to them as parents within the parent-teacher relationships” as well as how to care for their children.

Summarized Article:

Luke, S. E., Vail, C. O., Roulston, K., & Clees, T. J. (2021). Examining the Expectations of Parents of Young Children with Disabilities from a “Care” Perspective. Exceptionality, 29(5), 344-358.

Summary by: Shekufeh – Shekufeh believes that the MARIO Framework builds relationships that enable students to view the world in a positive light as well as empowering them to create plans that ultimately lead to their success.

Additional References:

  1. Copple, C., & Bredekamp, S. (Eds.). (2009). Developmentally appropriate practice in early childhood programs serving children from birth through age 8 (3rd ed.). NAEYC.
  2. Division for Early Childhood. (2014). DEC recommended practices in early intervention/early childhood special education 2014. Author.
  3. National Association for the Education of Young Children. (2009). Developmentally appropriate practice in early childhood programs serving children from birth through age 8. Author.
  4. Buren, M. K., Maggin, D. M., & Brown, C. (2018). Meta-synthesis on the experiences of families from nondominant communities and special education collaboration. Exceptionality, 1–20.
  5. Bredekamp, S. (1993). The relationship between early childhood education and early childhood special education: Healthy marriage or family feud? Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 13(3), 258–273.
  6. Dunst, C. J. (2002). Family-centered practices: Birth through high school. The Journal of Special Education, 36(3), 139–147.
  7. Angell, M. E., Stoner, J. B., & Shelden, D. L. (2009). Trust in education professionals: Perspectives of mothers of children with disabilities. Remedial and Special Education, 30(3), 160–176.
  8. Kuhn, M., Marvin, C. A., & Knoche, L. L. (2017). In it for the long haul: Parent–teacher partnerships for addressing preschool children’s challenging behaviors. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 37(2), 81–93.
  9. Blue-Banning, M., Summers, J. A., Frankland, H. C., Nelson, L. L., & Beegle, G. (2004). Dimensions of family and professional partnerships: Constructive guidelines for collaboration. Exceptional Children, 70(2), 167–184.
  10. Rattenborg, K., Macphee, D., Walker, A. K., & Miller-Heyl, J. (2019). Pathways to parent engagement: Understanding the contributions of parents, teachers, and schools in cultural context. Early Education and Development, 30(3), 315–336.