Social, Emotional and Mindful Learning Curriculum: No Cost, Free!

group of four youth in an outside setting

Sometimes you get what you pay for, sometimes you don't--and just occasionally you can get much more than you may imagine when great resources are available at no cost, yes free!

This short list of quality Social, Emotional and Mindful Learning curriculum includes programs for using with childen and youth of all ages and grades. Some guidance on accessing and implementing these high quality resources is provided. The first three programs are broad-based social, emotional and mindful learning focused, while the last three focus on specific issues of empathy, tolerance and digital citizenship. 

Choose Love: A comprehensive Pre-K through 12th grade social and emotional learning (SEL) curriculum from the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Foundation, building on three words, "Norturing, helin, love," written by first grader Jessie before his life was taken along with 19 other children in the gun violence at Sandy Hook Elementary school on12/14/12. The Choose Love Enrichment Program is comprised of many engaging lessons organized according to four units with themes that comprise the Choose Love Formula: Courage, Gratitute, Forgiveness & Compassion. For elementary students, there are 4-6 weekly lessons per theme, along with additional activivities that can keep the program going all year long. For middle and high school students, the lessons are shorter so they can be more easily adapted to the daily schedule, with a weekly 'brain blast' and daily 'power surge' activities that total 140 activities for your use. Lessons are flexible, creative and fun, and may be adapted for use in school and out-of-school time settings. Mindful awareness practice are nicely incorporated into the program through many activities.

Every Monday Matters: Every Monday Matters (EMM) founder Matthew Emerzian has inspired a growing library of free SEL curriculum materials to help individuals and organizations undestand how much and why they matter--to themselves, the community, and the world. A montly video and weekly themes frame the EMM program that can be implemented Every Monday, as well as any or every other day. A full week would entail Kick Off, I Matter, You Matter, We Matter and Reflection activites. For example, this month's video was Monday Gets Loving, with weekly themed activities to explore: Trust, Make Time, Curate Compassion, and Celebrate Love. The activities are highly engaging and can be adapted to meet the age and development needs of your children and youth. Schools will find the activities a fun learning experienece for students that can be built into a daily routine, while out-of-school time programs will appreciated the flexibility to asapt the activities and make them their own. Additional materials are provided to build new or support existing service & leadership clubs at the middle and high school level. 

SEE Learning:  Social, Emotional, and Ethical (SEE) Learning: Educating the Heart and Mind is an innovative K-12 education program developed by Emory University in partnership with the Dali Lama, designed for international implementation with eductors in 36 countries having been trained to date. SEE Learning provides tools to foster emotional, social and ethical intelligence for students and eductors, with additional components to enhance SEL programming, such as attention training, compassion and ethical discernment, systems thinking, and resilience and trauma-informed practice. Online orientation and training must be completed before you are able to access the curriculum, and you will be invited to participate in an optional research project. The developmentally appropriate curriculum addresses the needs of children from K-12 and its focus on experiential learning makes it a great fit for afterschool and other youth program settings. A review of the curriculum can be found in the Journal of Youth Development.

Start Empathy: Start Empathy is an an Ashoka Changemaker initiative focusing on helping young people in an ever changing global world--where 'every child must grow up grow up developing the essential skills of empathy, teamwork, leadership, and changemaking.' The Start Empathy Toolkit includes activities that may be completed in a few minutes to ongoing  youth driven projects. outlines a roadmap with three steps and related activities. The 85 page manual is organized as follows: Step 1. Prepare (Create a Safe Space, Develop Emotional Competency, Lead by Example), Step 2. Engage (Group Play, Storytelling, Immersion, Collective Problem-Solving), and  Step 3. Reflect & Act (Identify Shared Values and Differences, Instill Courage, Enable Action). Take a few steps with Start Empathy to think globally and act locally with your children and youth!

Learning for Justice: Learning for Justice is a program of the Southnern Poverty Law Center with a mission to help 'educate children and youth to be active participants in a diverse democracy.' They provide a wealth of resources to promote tolerance, that 'broad range of skills we need to live together peacefully.'  Curriculum resources include film kits, printablle posters, a lesson building tool, and over 500 lessons for working with children and youth of all ages on social justice and anti-bias issues. Take a look at this amazing collection of materials and maybe kick off a Mix It Up day at your school or program. And Teaching Tolerance also has a great free magazine they actually mail (not email or text) to you. All for free!

Commonsense Education Digital Citizenship:  Commonsense is 'dedicated to helping kids thrive in an ever changing world' with a variety of resources for eductors, parents and advocates. Their Digital Citizenship curriculum was developed with Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. The program 'adderesses top concerns for schools, preepares students with critical 21st-century skills, supports educators with training and recognition, and engages the whole community through family outreach.'  Its has a range of age appropriate lessons for all children who 'need digital citizenship skills to participate fully in their communities and make smart choices online and in life.' So much here for both digital natives and immigrants alike. 



Former Youth & Family Resiliency Field Specialist
Office: Cooperative Extension, Taylor Hall, Durham, NH 03824