Preschool SELect Program
Circle of Education® is a skills promotion program that uses teaching practices, academic integration, and free-standing SEL lessons to support social and emotional learning. Circle of Education is designed to be used with children from birth to eight years old. The program is structured around an “SEL Wellness and Readiness” framework that consists of eighteen thematic modules called “EduPods.” These modules ensure sequenced, developmentally appropriate instruction that is presented through play-based learning including puppets, music, books, and hands-on activities.
Guidance for specific teaching practices are included within each modules and emphasize experiential learning, relationship building, the importance of play, and multi-sensory learning experiences. One notable aspect of the program is the literature review that accompanies each modules and provides teachers with the research behind the teaching practices employed throughout the module. There are also specific questions for teachers to reflect on before and after lessons in order to be intentional in their teaching, reflect on implementation, and develop self-awareness.
In terms of free-standing lessons, the curriculum for prek-first grade includes 162 lessons across the 18 EduPod modules. Lessons focus on developing skills to understand and recognize feelings, solve problems, share, and work together with others. While Circle of Education materials suggest that teachers may implement the lessons they believe to be most relevant at the time, they recommend that teachers introduce and teach all skills throughout the year. One notable aspect of the lessons is the robust support for school and family connections, as each EduPod lesson has a corresponding ParentPod™ activity offered in Spanish and English.
Circle of Education modules also integrate SEL into academic content through lessons in art, dramatic play, language and literacy, math, music and movement, science, and social science. During these lessons, there are opportunities for students to practice and explore social and emotional competencies through activities that promote self-reflection, cooperation, and communication.
Circle of Education also provides a module for Behavioral Health Specialists and teachers to support students needing additional support. This includes activities for large and small groups, as well as one-on-one time with students around eight themes: self-awareness, self-esteem, diversity, emotions, relationship building, dealing with change, and “controlling my temper.”
Circle of Education recommends two full days of training. On the first day, participants learn about the program framework, including the multi-sensory aspects, before they are guided through the modules. On the second day, participants practice hands-on implementation of lessons to present to their colleagues. Training can be provided in-person onsite, onsite virtually, and offsite. After training, teachers also have access to four webinars around different themes and milestones in the program. These can be tailored to the needs of the particular site.
In addition to this training model, Circle of Education also offers a train-the-trainer model for teacher-leaders and administrators. Once trained, Circle of Education conducts check-ins with teacher-leaders and administrators twice-monthly by phone or webinar to support fidelity.
Classroom observation tools are available to support implementation, and they can be used by trainers and program managers to provide feedback on content delivery.
Evidence of Effectiveness
Results from a quasi-experimental study published in 2013 support the effectiveness of the Circle of Education curriculum for PreK students. The evaluation included 102 PreK students from 4 classrooms in one university campus child care center in the Southwest United States (Hispanic = 52%, Black = 17%, Asian = 11%; socioeconomic status not reported). The evaluation found that PreK students who participated in the program performed better on teacher reports of positive social behaviors related to social cooperation, social interaction, and social independence compared to students in the comparison group (outcomes reported approximately four to eight months after baseline while controlling for outcome pretest). The evaluation also found that the students who participated in the program exhibited lower levels of externalizing and internalizing behaviors compared to students in the comparison group (outcomes reported approximately four to eight months after baseline while controlling for outcome pretest).