Why It Matters

Why It Matters

Neuroscientific advances demonstrate that the ages zero to five-years-old represent a critical window for learning and teaching the building blocks of emotional intelligence—namely emotional competence, self-regulation, and associated prosocial and cognitive skills such as empathy and problem-solving.
Housman Institute’s begin to ECSEL® (Emotional Cognitive Social Early Learning) approach is steeped in this knowledge, educating trained caregivers to support the growth of these core competencies and their associated skills in young children. Our results-driven approach has been shown to significantly improve these competencies that studies show to be critical to young children’s development, school readiness, and lifelong well-being and success.

We understand the connection between social and emotional learning and cognition. Foundational to young children's development is the interactions and experiences between young children and caregivers. To that end, we train caregivers through a caregiver-as-socializer model predicated on research that shows that teaching and learning are an outgrowth of human interaction—most significantly in the early years—and that regulation is deeply embedded in a young child’s relationship with a caregiver. This secure attachment relationship has been shown to be key to the child’s optimal long-term social, emotional, and cognitive development, as well as to the child’s ability to manage stress.

In our program, caregivers not only work to strengthen this relationship but also learn to utilize current emotional situations as an opportunity to teach the child more appropriate emotion regulation strategies and to support the growth of children’s social and cognitive capabilities. The core competencies that our program has been scientifically proven to improve, such as social and emotional skills and empathy, have been recognized by the OECD and others as foundational to children’s academic success.

Research also shows a strong association between empathy, emotion regulation, and positive prosocial behaviors. As Housman Institute Founder Dr. Donna Housman says: “As a society, we are seeing an alarming rise in behavioral problems, bullying, stress, anxiety, low self-esteem and lack of empathy. Our program helps to develop in students a strong sense of self, the ability to manage stress and emotions, and have empathy for, and understanding of, each other's differences — all vital not only for strengthening our own mental health but also to building a strong future for us all."

Evidence confirms that supporting students’ social, emotional, and academic development benefits all children and relates positively to the traditional measures we care about: attendance, grades, test scores, graduation rates, college and career success, engage citizenship, and overall well-being.

Aspen Institute, 2019