5 Effective Ways to Infuse Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) into Your Preschool Classroom

Greetings, dear educators and caregivers! At Zoy, we understand social-emotional learning (SEL) ‘s critical role in nurturing well-rounded and emotionally intelligent children. As passionate advocates for SEL, we recognize that integrating these principles into your preschool classroom can be a game-changer. SEL equips children with the tools they need for self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. These skills lay the foundation for academic success, positive behavior, and lifelong well-being.

This blog will provide five practical and engaging strategies to incorporate SEL into your preschool classroom seamlessly. So, let’s dive in and discover how to make SEL a natural part of your daily routine.

1. 15-Minute SEL Adventure

We understand that time is precious in a preschool classroom, but dedicating just 15 minutes each day to SEL can make a world of difference. Think of it as embarking on a short but exciting adventure with your little learners. Here’s how to make those 15 minutes count:

Zoy Tip: Make SEL time a non-negotiable part of your daily schedule. Add it to your lesson planner and consider it as important as any other subject. This consistency helps children feel secure and expectant of these valuable moments.

During these 15 minutes, engage your students in various SEL activities, such as discussions, role-playing, or mindfulness exercises. For instance, you can introduce a “Feelings Check-In” activity where children share their emotions through colorful emoji cards. This simple yet effective activity encourages self-awareness and emotional expression.

2. SEL Spotlight of the Month

At Zoy, we believe in allowing children to dive deep into specific SEL skills. Like our storybook characters, children can benefit from a “SEL Spotlight of the Month.” Choose a different social-emotional skill to focus on each week or month. This approach allows children to explore and practice these skills in different contexts, fostering a deeper understanding.

Zoy Tip: Create a monthly calendar filled with exciting themes or skills to keep your lessons organized and purposeful. For example, January could be all about kindness, while February focuses on empathy.

By having a clear theme for the month, you provide consistency and structure while keeping the learning process fun and engaging. At Zoy, we’ve seen how children thrive when they know what to expect and have the opportunity to practice these skills in various situations.

3. Start the Zoy Way: Morning Meetings

Begin your day with a positive and SEL-focused morning meeting. At Zoy, we’re all about creating joyful connections; this is the perfect opportunity to set the tone for the day. Here’s a Zoy-inspired morning meeting routine:

Zoy Tip: Start with a friendly greeting activity where students can practice eye contact, smiles, and active listening. A simple ‘Good morning, friends!’ can work wonders.

Follow this up with a sharing time where students can express their thoughts, experiences, or ideas. Please encourage them to speak openly and empathetically. Finally, engage in a group activity that promotes SEL, such as discussing relatable scenarios from Zoy’s stories or reading a SEL-related book together. The key is to create a safe space for open conversations and connection.

4. Zoy Stories: Read-Alouds with a Twist

Storytime is a cherished moment in any preschool classroom, and it’s the perfect opportunity to introduce SEL concepts. Like Zoy’s stories, choose books addressing social-emotional themes like friendship, empathy, or perseverance. After reading the book, spark meaningful discussions:

Zoy Tip: Encourage children to share their thoughts about the characters’ emotions and actions. Ask questions like ‘How do you think the character felt?’ or ‘What would you do in a similar situation?’ This encourages perspective-taking and empathy.

Connecting the story to real-life experiences helps children internalize these valuable lessons. At Zoy, our stories are carefully crafted to inspire conversations that build empathy, kindness, and other essential social-emotional skills.

5. Emotional Intelligence at Play

Teaching children to manage their emotions is a fundamental aspect of SEL. It’s about empowering them with the tools they need to navigate the ups and downs of life. Here are some Zoy-inspired strategies:

Zoy Tip: Create a ‘Calm-Down Corner’ or a ‘Calm-Down Bucket’ in your classroom. Fill it with sensory tools, soft toys, and calming activities like deep breathing cards. This gives children a safe space to self-soothe when needed.

In addition to the calm-down corner, incorporate “brain breaks” throughout the day. These short, energizing activities allow children to release pent-up energy and refocus their attention. Simple activities like dancing to a Zoy-inspired song or doing a quick mindfulness exercise can make a world of difference.

Conclusion: Small Steps, Big Impact

Incorporating social-emotional learning into your preschool classroom doesn’t have to be overwhelming or time-consuming. By setting aside dedicated time, focusing on specific skills, starting the day with a Zoy-inspired morning meeting, choosing appropriate read-alouds, and teaching children how to manage their emotions, you can create a positive and supportive learning environment that promotes SEL.

Remember, small steps can significantly change your students’ social-emotional well-being and overall academic success. At Zoy, we’re here to support you on this incredible journey of nurturing emotionally intelligent young minds.

Explore More: For further guidance and resources on fostering social-emotional learning in your preschool classroom, visit our Education Center. Let’s continue this adventure together!

FAQs: Your Zoy-Approved Answers

1. How can I find time for SEL in my already packed schedule?

Setting aside just 15 minutes each day for SEL activities can make a significant impact. By being intentional and consistent with this time, you can incorporate SEL seamlessly into your daily routine without adding extra stress to your schedule.

2. What are some recommended books for read-alouds that promote SEL?

Zoy recommends engaging books like “Free As A Bird: Finding Harmony with Self-Discipline,” “Lon the Lonely Swan: Embracing Wings of Difference,” “Hide and Go Moose: A Journey of Self-Love and Laughter,” and “Doug Needs a Hug: The Prickly Quest for a Cozy Cuddle.” These stories spark meaningful discussions and help children develop empathy, kindness, and other critical social-emotional skills.

3. How can I help students apply SEL skills outside the classroom?

Zoy encourages collaboration between home and school. Provide parents with information about what their child is learning regarding SEL and suggest activities or discussions they can engage in at home. This partnership ensures that children apply SEL skills in various settings.

4. What are some effective strategies for teaching children self-regulation?

Teaching self-regulation requires providing children with strategies to manage their emotions effectively. Some effective techniques include deep breathing exercises, mindfulness activities, journaling, and positive self-talk. Encourage children to practice these strategies regularly and provide

Zoy SEL Specialists
Author, Child Psychologist, and SEL Specialist


Meet Zoy Logo
Zoy Team
Our team is always creating helpful content that you can easily put into practice. Check back each week for new resources! Or subscribe and we’ll let you know when new articles are published.
By clicking ‘Subscribe’, I agree to the Terms & to receive emails from Zoy.


Thank you! Your message is flying its way to Team Zoy!