What is it about?

School-based Social Emotional Learning (SEL) programs emerged in North America and have not traditionally focused on embodied learning processes that are situated in the learners’ contexts and lived experiences. In this article, we advanced the case for how culture and culturally-relevant embodied learning that takes place across the home, school, and community contexts can inform the development of SEL curriculum and SEL instructional approaches or activities that ultimately lead to transferable social-emotional competencies. We presented a model that advances the field by calling for the need to consider culture and embodied learning if SEL skills that are learned in the school and classroom through SEL curriculum or programs can be transferable or applied in other contexts, such as in the home or in the community

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Why is it important?

Findings highlight the increase in SEL research over the past 2 decades but with extremely limited work done outside of North America, particularly in Japan and South Africa. Consequently, we explored what culturally responsive, situated, and embodied SEL would look like across three different cultural contexts (i.e., in North America, Japan, and South Africa) in this article.


SEL is centered on the premise that the skills learned through SEL programming will not only improve school climate for all learners, but SEL skills will transfer and be applied in learners’ everyday, real-world contexts. Culturally-relevant embodied learning needs to be part of SEL because SEL is very much about the whole child and whole-body experiential learning grounded in real-world, cultural contexts

Jeffrey Liew
Texas A&M University College Station

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This page is a summary of: Embodied and Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) in Early Childhood: Situating Culturally Relevant SEL in Asian, African, and North American Contexts, Early Education and Development, January 2022, Taylor & Francis, DOI: 10.1080/10409289.2021.2024062.
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