Pre-Kindergarten Teachers’ Perceptions of Social and Emotional Learning


  • Hillary Polchow Liesch
  • Karen Morrison
  • Rebecca M Giles


SEL, preschool, early childhood, teachers, beliefs


Recognition of social and emotional learning (SEL), as an essential educational component, has increased in recent years, and early childhood educators’ perceptions of SEL are likely to impact the delivery, evaluation, and outcomes of SEL opportunities for young children. The purpose of this pilot study was to investigate SEL perceptions of prekindergarten teachers in an American urban, public preschool serving predominantly Black students. Participant (n=22) responses to the Teacher Social and Emotional Learning Beliefs Scale (Brackett et al., 2012) were used to calculate mean scores for the domains of comfort, commitment, and culture, which were
analyzed in relationship to the independent variables of teacher position (lead or auxiliary), level of education (associate degree, bachelor’s degree, or graduate degree), and years of prekindergarten teaching experience (0-20 years and more than 20 years). While results were statistically non-significant, findings of the current pilot study have important and practical implications for implementing SEL in prekindergarten. Auxiliary teachers scored slightly lower in commitment and comfort domain than lead teachers, and teachers with a bachelor’s degree scored highest on the comfort domain. Interestingly, experienced teachers (more than 20 years) did not show a notable difference from those who have been teaching prekindergarten for much less time. Findings suggest that regardless of position and educational level, both veteran and novice early childhood teachers could benefit from explicit SEL training and adequate time and opportunity to become confident in providing effective social and emotional learning in their early childhood classrooms. Further research is needed to examine the effects of SEL training and coaching for prekindergarten teachers on the SEL of young children.


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