Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children
Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

What do you think young children need to develop strong social/emotional and learning skills?

Let the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) know.

EEC is holding three public hearings in Boston, Brockton, and Worcester to get public feedback on a draft of proposed social-emotional learning standards.

Called the “Pre-School and Kindergarten Standards in the domains of Social-Emotional Development and Approaches to Play and Learning,” the draft can be downloaded by clicking here.

The need for standards is clear. As the draft explains: “The preponderance of outcomes from both research and evidence-based practice clearly show the strong connection between social and emotional learning, academic learning, and success in life. In fact this synergistic development of social and emotional and academic skills promotes and facilitates higher order thinking.” 

The standards have been developed in collaboration with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the University of Massachusetts-Boston, and diverse early childhood stakeholders.

The public hearing schedule is:

Thursday, January 22, 2015, 1:00pm-3:00pm
Beechwood Hotel, 363 Plantation Street, Worcester, MA

Thursday, January 22, 2015, 5:30pm to 7:30pm
Department of Early Education and Care, 51 Sleeper Street, Boston, MA

Friday, January 23, 2015, 10:00am to 12:00pm
Holiday Inn Express, 405 Westgate Drive, Brockton, MA

RSVP by January 16, 2015, to Mary Lu Love at or call 617-287-5925.

You can also submit comments in writing by filling out an online survey. The deadline for this option is January, 30, 2105.

Details from the Draft Standard

“Guiding children’s development” so that they can integrate their thoughts, feelings, and behavior “requires that we begin early to intentionally model, teach, and reinforce self and social skills and positive approaches to play and learning,” the draft says.

“In early education we encounter the widest developmental range of any other group,” the draft notes, adding that children enter programs with vastly diverse “experiences, language, culture, development, and ability. Their development is best guided by adults who intentionally individualize their interactions with children, and who provide prompting and support based on each child’s abilities and understanding in order to help her develop to the fullest.”

The draft standards point to seven guiding principles that call for:

• building on earlier state learning guidelines and connecting to the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks.

• taking a research-based approach

• supporting educators, administrators, and families

• communicating the many social and cultural contexts and life experiences that influence children’s development and their attitudes about play

• focusing on the standards’ developmental aspects and on continuously improving the skills of individual children including dual language learners and those with special needs

• emphasizing that all areas of child development are interrelated, and,

• maintaining compatibility with current assessment tools, such as the Work Sampling System and Teaching Strategies Gold

The draft says, “The Standards for Social and Emotional Learning” focuses on five areas.” They are:

• self-awareness: in the form of emotional expression, self-perception, and self-efficacy

• self-management: including impulse control

• social awareness: such as empathy, respect for others, and awareness of diversity

• relationship skills: including communication, relationship building, conflict management, and seeking help, and,

• responsible decision making

The draft also includes the “Approaches to Play and Learning Standards,” which focuses on eight areas:

• initiative

• curiosity

• persistence and engagement

• creativity

• cooperation

• problem solving

• organization skills, and,

• memory

To learn more, read the draft standards. And please let EEC know what you think by attending a public hearing or submitting your feedback in writing.

As EEC Commissioner Tom Weber said in a letter inviting the field to the hearings, “your knowledge and experience with young children will be valuable to us in this process.”