Sign me up for updates. Sign up now

Donate Take Action

It is important that Out-of-School Time (OST) programs not only promote the academic success of students, but also their social and emotional learning. The flexibility and diversity of program structures within the OST environment allows for opportunities of growth in social and emotional contexts for youth. It is imperative that OST leaders understand the importance of also prioritizing this type of learning and that communities support this effort.

Featured Resource: Preparing Youth to THRIVE: Promising Practices for Social Emotional Learning

This Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality site provides SEL resources, webinars, case studies and hands-on tools for practitioners and managers, along with regular webinars and video chats to highlight and promote the lessons gathered in the field guide and to explore the various applications of the standards. It includes an abundance of resources that can help you strengthen your OST program. A couple resources you can't miss include:

  • Strengths Builder Assessment, which is a resource for OST providers looking to self-assess your practices, curriculum and youth skills.
  • Hands-On Activities that the Weikart Center compiled from all of their exemplary OST sites that are used to build youth SEL skills.


about social emotional learning

Social and Emotional Learning Core Competencies
The chart from the CASEL (Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning), featured to the left, breaks down social and emotional learning into five categories. Click the link to read more about the different sections.

Social and Emotional Learning Series (2016)
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center at Penn State University has launched a ten-part series which will examine social and emotional learning among young people - the process through which they build and use the skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. You can follow the series through the link above. 


Afterschool Programs Inspiring Students with a Connected Learning Approach (2015)
This issue brief from the Afterschool Alliance explores the potential benefits that using a connected learning approach has on youth development and success. It provides suggestions for ways to integrate connected learning principles into afterschool programs in order to help youth grow and succeed in school, work, and life.

Teaching Kids How to Succeed in School (2013)
This report from the Partnership for Children & Youth explores the ways education leaders can use summer programs to improve their confidence as empowered learners. The Summer Matters Campaign off of which this is based is in California, but the findings have a wide applicability. It highlights different programs and explores how their structures promote the social and emotional development of youth through the use of survey data, program evaluations, and in-person observations. 

The Key to Success? Grit (2013)
In this TED Talk, researcher and scholar Angela Duckworth explains her theory that "grit" is a predictor of educational success.

Temperament in the Classroom (2012)
This report from researchers Angela Duckworth and Kelly M. Allred examines the impact that various aspects of children's temperament has on school readiness, educational attainment, and academic achievement. It explores how to cultivate aspects of temperament that enhance the likelihood of youth success in school.

Supporting Children & Youth with Social-Emotional Needs (2012)
This resource from Kids Included Together (KIT) highlights the importance of program staff understanding kids' Social-Emotional needs. It shares ways to model control, program supports and accommodations, resources for program personnel, and recommended book lists for kids and teenagers to help them grow socially and emotionally.

Afterschool Programs That Follow Evidence-Based Practices to Promote Social and Emotional Development Are Effective (2011)
In this research brief from ExpandED Learning, authors Durlak and Weissberg highlight their findings in their research review on the impact of four evidence-based practices on promoting youth social and personal development. They found that youth in programs in which staff followed the SAFE model (Sequenced, step-by-step training; Active forms of learning through the practicing of new skills; Focused time on and prioritization of skill development; and Explicit definitions of skills that they were trying to promote) had higher social, academic, and personal achievement than those in programs who did not.

Student-Centered Learning in Afterschool: Putting Students' Needs and Interests First (2011)
This issue brief from the Afterschool Alliance looks into the importance of fostering environments that encourage creativity and imagination for children as a way to help them develop skills in critical thinking, problem solving, and self-expression. It gives examples of multiple approaches and programs that put students' needs and interests at the center of learning.

Afterschool: A Strategy for Addressing and Preventing Middle School Bullying (2011)
This issue brief from the Afterschool Association explores how afterschool programs can decrease the prevalence of bullying by empowering students and helping them grow socially and emotionally. It gives an overview of bullying, the social and emotional dangers of bullying, and the unique role afterschool programs can play, in addition to providing high-quality program examples.


Addressing & assessing social emotional learning

Strategies for Getting Started With After-School SEL (2010)
This Edutopia article highlights the successful WINGS for Kids afterschool program. WINGS provides eight tips to establishing a strong SEL component in OST programs. It includes links to research on SEL as well as examples of WINGS learning objectives, program structure, activities and lesson plans, and staff training resources.

2013 CASEL Guide: Effective Social and Emotional Learning Programs – Preschool and Elementary School Edition
This guide from CASEL (Cooperative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning) shares a systematic framework for evaluating the level of quality of social and emotional programs. It shares best practices on selecting and implementing SEL programs, and it offers recommendations for advancing SEL practice. Watch a webinar on how to use this guide here.

2015 CASEL Guide: Effective Social and Emotional Learning Programs – Middle and High School Edition
This is a companion guide from CASEL, focused on middle and high school students. To access the guide, click the link above and fill out the form it takes you to.

Social-Emotional Learning Assessment Measures for Middle School Youth
This Raikes Foundation report highlights research-based tools that measure the social and emotional state of students in middle school. It evaluates 73 assessment tools that can be used to assess the needs of students as well as monitor the success of programs in integrating social and emotional learning. Although targeted to schools, it does examine some assessments that OST programs can use.

Developmental Assets: Preparing Young People for Success
The Search Institute developed a list of 40 research-based, positive qualities that influence youth development. This Developmental Assets framework is based in youth development, prevention, and resiliency research, and it is the most widely used approach to positive youth development in the United States. This framework is developmentally relevant for those in adolescence down to early childhood. Go to their website to explore the list of Developmental Assets, understand the Power of Assets, or complete a Developmental Assets Survey to track progress and identify priorities.


— Return Home —

Have a resource you want to share? See something you've created fitting well in the Toolkit?

Email your Out-of-School Time reports, publications, best practices, case studies, blog articles, videos, media mentions, etc. to We will contact you if we are featuring your resource in the OST Toolkit.