Teaching SEL through children’s literature: The 4Rs Program

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The 4Rs Program, developed by the Morningside Center in New York in the United States, integrates social and emotional learning into the language arts curriculum for pre-kindergarten to middle school students.

The 4Rs curriculum is grade-specific, including lessons that use high-quality children’s literature as a springboard for developing understanding and competencies in areas such as community-building, emotional literacy, social responsibility, conflict resolution, and problem solving. Each unit begins with a Read Aloud of a children’s book with a relevant theme, with discussion, writing, and role-play activities that follow to deepen understanding of the book, and its connection to the children’s lives.

The Morningside Center provides training and classroom coaching to prepare and support educators in teaching these weekly lessons.

Developed in New York City public schools over 30 years ago, research has shown the 4Rs Program to have a positive effect on students’ social and emotional competency, behavior, attendance and academic performance, and to lead to decreases in hostility and aggression. Positive effects on school climate have also been documented. Furthermore, the 4Rs program is recognized by CASEL as a “SELect” program.

Also available is a parent component, the “4Rs Family Connections”, which is a set of activities related to the books used in the units, that parent can do with their children at home.