Embodied and Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) in Early Childhood: Situating Culturally Relevant SEL in Asian, African, and North American Contexts

Akiko Hayashi, Jeffrey Liew, Samantha Dyanne Aguilar, Juliet M. Nyanamba, Yingying Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


School-based Social Emotional Learning (SEL) programs emerged in North America and have not traditionally focused on embodied learning processes that are situated in the learners’ contexts and lived experiences. Thus, we present evidence and advance the case that transferable social-emotional competencies are inherently culturally responsive or situated in learners’ authentic experiences and are inherently embodied. We also introduce a conceptual model grounded in bioecological and embodied theoretical frameworks to help guide future research and practice for culturally relevant SEL. Research findings: We used parts of the scoping review methodology to search and screen the published empirical literature on SEL and embodied learning. Findings highlight the increase in SEL research over the past 2 decades but with extremely limited work done outside of North America, particularly in Japan and South Africa. Consequently, we explored what culturally responsive, situated, and embodied SEL would look like across three different cultural contexts (i.e., in North America, Japan, and South Africa). Practice or Policy: While the principles, goals, and key skills of SEL might apply to most or even all cultures, an emic approach where culture-specific values, beliefs, or customs drive the development and implementation of SEL curriculum, and incorporates the meaningful inclusion of key community members is needed to be effective for specific groups of students. To implement and facilitate effective SEL programs within diverse and multicultural settings, policies and practices related to SEL curriculum need to consider the backgrounds and needs of the children, families, and communities that are being served.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)746-763
Number of pages18
JournalEarly Education and Development
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Embodied and Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) in Early Childhood: Situating Culturally Relevant SEL in Asian, African, and North American Contexts'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this