Yale psychology researchers to create emotional literacy program for preschool children

Susan E. Rivers, a research scientist in Yale University’s Department of Psychology and the associate director of Yale’s Health, Emotion, and Behavior Laboratory, has been awarded a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute for Education Sciences to create, implement, and test a preschool program designed to improve emotional literacy in children.

Susan E. Rivers
Susan E. Rivers

Emotional literacy is a core component of self-regulation. It is also a precursor to social competence and a predictor of academic achievement, according to many scientific studies. Rivers hopes to increase understanding of how emotional literacy relates to academic outcomes and help all children enter school ready to learn.

Rivers and her team will use The RULER Approach — a social and emotional learning program designed by researchers at Yale and currently available for elementary and middle schools — to create emotionally supportive school and home environments for preschool-aged children. The RULER Approach fosters emotional literacy through teacher professional development, parent workshops, classroom lessons, and activities for teachers, parents, and students to practice both at school and at home. The existing programs have been field-tested extensively and are designed to integrate seamlessly into existing curricula.

The team will partner with Childcare Learning Centers (CLC) in Stamford, Connecticut, which operates a total of 49 classrooms in the surrounding community. The grant will cover three years of development, research, and teacher training with the CLC as the lab school. 

Co-investigators in the program include Walter Gilliam, associate professor of child psychiatry and psychology; Marc A. Brackett, research scientist and developer of the RULER training and classroom programs; and Peter Salovey, Yale provost and the Chris Argyris Professor of Psychology.

Barbara Garvin-Kester, chief executive officer, and the CLC board of directors will honor Rivers and her team for this project at the CLC’s annual benefit in April.

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Media Contact

Bill Hathaway: william.hathaway@yale.edu, 203-432-1322