Practices, Cultures, and Policies Aligned with SEL

The promotion of children’s SEL should be clearly emphasised in ECEC national curricula and guidelines, as well as ECEC centres´ educational projects  

Key Points: The promotion of children’s socioemotional learning (SEL) should be clearly emphasised in ECEC national curricula and guidelines, in line with European policies and frameworks that stress the core relevance of key personal, social, and emotional competencies. This entails defining national policy frameworks that clearly acknowledge a holistic understanding of children’s learning and development, and an integrated approach to professional action in ECEC settings. Additionally, the successful implementation of Programme–Wide Positive Behaviour Support (PW–PBS) encompasses the definition of a common philosophy that should be clearly stated in the educational projects of ECEC institutions. Explicit written guidelines create a common vision and coherence throughout all phases and processes of the implementation of PW–PBS in ECEC centres and school systems (please see our PBS–ECEC Key Resources, below). Policy recommendations at the national, local, and central levels guide these phases and processes and facilitate their transformation into consistent and effective daily practices.  

Voices of professionals and educational stakeholders from PBS–ECEC

“Guidelines and pedagogical practices should be created including how they would be taught in a wider range of academic subjects.” (M., Cyprus)

“I think we need to remind ourselves as early years educators that we are in the social and emotional business. (…) Let’s move away from trying to prepare them for school, you know, with the ABCs, and try to prepare them emotionally and socially.” (P., Ireland)

“Promoting socioemotional learning requires time, infrastructure, resources and personnel.” (A., Greece)

What can be done to make a difference?

Strategy: Develop and implement national and regional strategies for the promotion of SEL


  • Incorporate comprehensive guidelines in national or regional policies that underscore the significance of fostering socioemotional development and self-regulation skills in the early years. Additionally, curriculum frameworks and guidelines are reviewed and updated to emphasise comprehensive orientations on pedagogical practices focused on SEL and behavioural management, and to reflect the evolving needs and priorities of ECEC.
  • Ensure that regulations for the initial and continuous training of professionals focus on SEL and the prevention of challenging behaviours using an applied approach.
  • Contribute to changing mindsets in the professional development system by enhancing trainers’ training to better support professionals´ practices towards the promotion of positive behaviours. Professionals must feel confident in implementing evidence-based strategies and practices.
  • Sustain the integration of SEL across a broad range of academic areas and support long-term commitment from educational institutions and policymakers.
  • Encourage collaboration among ECEC settings, educational institutions, government agencies, and community organisations to share best practices related to PW–PBS; start pilot programmes in selected ECEC settings to test the effectiveness of PW–PBS.

Strategy: Develop and implement local ECEC centres/systems strategies for the promotion of SEL


  • Train and encourage ECEC professionals to create supportive and nurturing environments that value children’s socioemotional development, following improvements in national curriculum guidelines.
  • Create written guidelines through a participatory approach for each ECEC centre that expresses its core values, encouraging professionals’ reflexive processes in support of a growing coherence between the written vision and daily pedagogical practices.
  • Allocate time and resources for professionals to collaboratively design and implement learning activities that ensure that SEL is integrated into daily routines and practices.
  • Engage in regular assessment and evaluation of the impact of practices on children’s outcomes.
  • Contribute to changing the mindset from a focus on problem behaviours to a shift towards the promotion of socioemotional competence.
  • Define measurable goals regarding the development of socioemotional skills – what are children expected to learn and develop – and assess the results of the implemented strategies.

What are the expected benefits and impact?

  1. The inclusion of SEL in national curricula and guidelines encourages more coordinated action at this level, as well as having the potential to raise awareness of its importance in society.
  2. Implementing SEL in ECEC helps establish a foundation for positive behaviours; this emphasis can lead to improved interpersonal relationships and emotional wellbeing among children and staff, contributing to a more positive and inclusive social and pedagogical environment.
  3. SEL prepares children with essential life skills beyond the classroom, such as problem-solving, decision-making, and effective communication skills.
  4. Children with a strong foundation in SEL are better prepared for future challenges and tend to have better mental health and overall wellbeing in adulthood.
  5. The adoption of guidelines can extend beyond ECEC settings and to other educational levels, promoting a consistent approach to SEL throughout children´s academic journeys.

What practices show the way forward?

Curricula that promote SEL

In 2014, the Greek Ministry of Education’s curriculum for kindergarten introduced a section on personal and social development as a separate learning area of the programme, emphasising the development of children’s social competencies. Some of the basic principles of the Greek national curriculum regarding socioemotional development in ECEC settings include conflict resolution, following rules, autonomy, and self-regulation. In February 2023, the newly developed kindergarten curriculum was introduced in the Greek educational system. In line with the previous curriculum, the promotion of children’s socioemotional development remains at the core of the new curriculum. However, the novelty lies in the explicit reference to the need to promote positive behaviours in ECEC settings, a concept that was previously implied, but not explicitly stated. For instance, one of the foundational principles on which the curriculum is grounded is that the child learns to develop as he/she encounters the environment, objects, and everyday situations by interacting with significant others. Positive and supportive relationships are the key elements of this process, as the social nature of learning is recognised. This revised curriculum reflects a more explicit and intentional focus on fostering positive behaviours and socioemotional development, thereby reinforcing the importance of nurturing supportive learning environments for young children. This also demonstrates a close alignment with the objectives set forth by the PBS–ECEC project, which aims to support ECEC professionals in promoting socioemotional development and positive behaviours in ECEC settings.

Promoting Positive Behaviour in ECEC

With the support of EU Funds, Cyprus has started implementing targeted and innovative programmes in education, through which multilevel support is provided to students and their families. In Cyprus, the implementation of the PW–PBS system is fairly new. However, during the last decade, there have been several interventions led by various research groups to support ECEC setting and primary schools to implement PW–PBS.

Supporting evidence and resources

Key Resources

Needs assessment in four countries 

Krousorati, K., Grammatikopoulos, V., Agathokleous, A., Michaelidou, V., Szproch, A., O’Brien, M., Barros, S., Araújo, S., Santos, M., & Sousa, M. (2023). PBS–ECEC transnational consolidated report: Research findings for developing the guide on Positive Behaviour Support in early childhood

education and care.   

A Guide for using PW-PBS in ECEC

Krousorati, K., Grammatikopoulos, V., Agathokleous, A., Michaelidou, V., Szproch, A., O’Brien, M., Araújo, S., Santos, M., Sousa, M., & Barros, S. (2023). PBS–ECEC guide on Positive Behaviour Support in early childhood and care in European countries.  

PBS-ECEC online modules

PBS–ECEC Consortium (n.d.). Implementing Positive Behaviour Support in early childhood education and care [MOOC].

Impact Assessment Study & recommendations

Szproch, A., O’Brien, M., Araújo, A., Santos, M., Oliveira, V., Barros, S., Otero-Mayer, A., Michaelidou,

V., Agathokleous, A., Krousorati, K., & Grammatikopoulos, V. (2023). Report of the PBS–ECEC impact assessment study and practice recommendations. Result 3: Transnational Report.

Additional Resources

Anchorage School District Social Emotional Learning (n.d.). What is social and emotional learning?.  

Cefai, C., Bartolo, P. A., Cavioni, V., & Downes, P. (2018). Strengthening social and emotional education as a core curricular area across the EU: A review of the international evidence (NESET II report). Publications Office of the European Union.    

Cefai, C., Downes, P., & Cavioni., V. (2021). A formative, inclusive, whole school approach to the assessment of social and emotional education in the EU (NESET report). Publications Office of the European Union.  

Center for Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (n.d.). Tutorial 6: Recognizing and supporting the social and emotional health of young children birth to age five.

Childhood Education International (2017, January 17). Status of ECEC in Cyprus.   

EASEL LAB (n.d.). K-12 SEL Standards (Anchorage).

Loizou, E. (2007). System of early education/care and professionalisation in Cyprus. Report commissioned by the State Institute of Early Childhood Research (IFP). State Institute of Early Childhood



Resilient Preschools Consortium (2022). Resilient Preschools IO2.A2.1 curriculum for preschool teachers.     

Sala, A., Punie, Y., & Garkov, V. (2020). LifeComp: The European framework for personal, social and learning to learn key competence. Office of the European Union.