Understanding the factors that children and youth need to be successful in school and in life has long been an important objective for researchers, parents, and educators interested in the promotion of competence and the prevention of educational, psychological, and behavioural problems. Informed, in part, from recent research in the area of cognitive developmental neuroscience, the past decade has seen an abundance of research documenting the critical role that self-regulation, emotions, and social processes, such as social and emotional understanding and empathy, play in children’s successful development. This presentation will begin with a brief review of ground breaking research that has emerged that demonstrates the importance of promoting children’s social and emotional learning (SEL) in schools and describe how recent innovations in developmental neuroscience can inform these efforts.
Dr. Schonert-Reichl will describe some of the SEL initiatives in Canada and the US that are taking place, and highlight her own recent research evaluating a universal school-based social and emotional competence promotion program – MindUP – a program developed from research and theory in the fields of developmental neuroscience, mindful attention awareness, SEL, and positive psychology. A discussion of both processes and mechanisms that underlie children’s social and emotional development in schools and practical implications for the promotion of children’s self-regulation, empathy, compassion, and kindness will be discussed.