After-school educators are becoming increasingly aware of the impact and the long-lasting benefits of Social-Emotional Learning programs. However, choosing the right SEL program can be a challenge due to the overwhelming selection of materials and online resources.

We can easily be allured by large promises and marketing jargon which can make the hunt for the right tool(s) daunting or misleading.

We can undoubtedly fall into the trap of overspending or buying a big brand’s whole program when your programs only need one or two features of the curriculum.

Here are the two fundamental questions you should cover when choosing an SEL program:

What are your overall students SEL developmental needs?

This is the most crucial question when searching for a suitable SEL program. Vendors create curriculums that may or may  not fit your needs and outcome goals.  As a team, distinguish your students’ strengths and weaknesses as well as their development needs. Once you have identified your program’s areas of improvement, research programs explicitly designed to target your goals.  Furthermore, look for a program that is evidence-based and their content, format, and style best suits your schedule and its deliverability.

What is your Budget?

Successfully implementing an SEL program requires considering the related costs as well as  sustainability. First, examine if your program has money in their budget to purchase an SEL program.  Next, find out the all related cost for materials, curricula, supplies, and training fees. Start off small if your program cannot afford to buy an expensive SEL program; as a team you can investigate free and low-costing SEL materials. (More to come on this in future blog posts!).

Finding and selecting the right SEL program is not easy, but then again we shouldn’t expect it to be.  It is a long journey to finding the right resources and materials needed for your program thrive.  If you need additional help, read this article on selecting an evidence-based program:

 http://www.episcenter.psu.edu/SelectingEBPs