Developmentally Appropriate SEL Programs for Early Childhood

Developmentally Appropriate SEL Programs for Early Childhood

21 April 2022 • Words by Allison Henry 2 mins

Did you know that most mindfulness and SEL programs provided to kids are actually based on adult programs? In fact, to date, there are no evidence-based programs in mindfulness or SEL that were designed from the start for early childhood (PreK–3rd grade). Researchers who conducted a systematic review of the literature (in press) found that, out of over 100 peer-reviewed research articles, none of the programs used were designed specifically for early childhood.


In fact, only a few of the evidence-based mindfulness and SEL programs studied focused on kids under 3rd grade. The researchers think that this might be because all the programs being used are scaled down from curricula designed for adults and/or teenagers.

So what does it take for an SEL program to be developmentally appropriate for early childhood? 

“Programs that are adapted for PreK–3rd grade might help children in some ways,” says Dr. Chanda Murphy, an expert in learning and mindfulness and Moshi’s lead researcher. “It may not have the long-term retention that a program designed for early childhood development will, though.”

Dr. Murphy goes on to describe that key elements of early childhood learning are:

Such elements are embedded parts of Moshi programming. “It is refreshing to see a program that was designed with kids in mind,” Dr. Murphy said. She encourages teachers and parents to try Moshi in the classroom and at home: “If you are interested in seeing the potential for mindfulness and social and emotional learning for young children, then Moshi is the only program we have found that has developmentally appropriate content specifically for early childhood learning. Moshi has bite-sized stories and relatable characters to help with long-term retention of skills being taught.”


Check out these three Moshi Moments for children in PreK through 3rd grade as well as the accompanying activities. 

  • Allison Henry