Social Emotional Learning

Equipping Kids with Skills for Success

Growing up is tough, growing up without the resources and support you need is even tougher.

More than 12 million US children live in poverty. Children living in poverty are more likely to lack the basics including food, clothing, adequate housing, and parental support with homework. The stress of these challenges can weigh a child down before they even get out of bed in the morning. And, grim statistics predict that under-resourced kids are on the fast track to dropping out of high school.

Poverty is associated with a higher risk for poor cognitive and academic outcomes, lower school attendance, and grade failure.
  • By fourth grade, students living in the poorest families lag academically 12 – 18 months behind their high-income peers.
  • Low-income students are chronically absent at a rate of three to four times higher than other students.
Children living in poverty are more likely to incur more adverse childhood experiences including abuse, neglect, exposure to neighborhood violence, or an incarcerated parent.
  • Nearly half of children who have experienced three or more adverse childhood experiences have low levels of engagement in school and do not finish tasks they start.
  • Over 40% of children with multiple adverse childhood experiences demonstrate negative behaviors such as arguing too much, bullying, or being cruel to others.
Low-income students drop out of high school at a rate 4.4 times greater than higher-income students.

The zip code you are born in should not determine your future. ALL children deserve the opportunity to reach their full potential. This is why we work with the toughest kids in the toughest schools to help level the playing field.  By building a strong foundation of skills in elementary school, we are setting them up to succeed in school, stay in school, and thrive in life.

Inequity / in.eq.ui.ty / lack of fairness or justice.

An early intervention can change the trajectory for the rising generation of kids.

Old beliefs only emphasized one kind of smart: book smart. Now, after years of research, brain science has shed light on a new perspective: paired together, emotions and intellect are the new smart. Traits such as self-control, optimism, perseverance, confidence, and growth mindset are predictors of success in school and life. Growth mindset, similar to self-efficacy, is the belief that your effort matters and that your intelligence is not fixed but malleable. This is particularly important for low-income children who, by virtue of their situation, can’t get a lot of the things we know are important to learning and have more obstacles to overcome than their wealthier peers. The good news is that all of these traits can be developed in young children – when given the opportunity.

While we cannot change a child’s economic situation, we can foster a mindset that tells them they CAN succeed and equip them with the skills needed to create a more equitable chance at academic success.

Social Emotional Learning


A variety of terms like these are used to describe emotional intelligence and/or social emotional learning. Emotional intelligence refers to the ability to perceive, control, and evaluate emotions. Social emotional learning is the process by which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.

In other words, social emotional learning addresses children’s ability to learn about and manage their emotions and interactions with others—the skills all children need to succeed in school, form healthy relationships, and eventually excel in the workplace.

There are five interrelated core competencies that make up social emotional learning: Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Responsible Decision Making, Social Awareness, and Relationship Skills. Everything we do at WINGS is rooted in these five core competencies and corresponding skills:

  • Self-Awareness: Understanding your emotions and thoughts and how they influence your behavior. Skills include self-perception, self-confidence, and self-efficacy.
  • Self-Management: The ability to regulate your emotions and behaviors in different situations and to set and work toward goals. Skills include impulse control, executive function, stress-management, and self-discipline.
  • Responsible Decision Making: The ability to make positive choices and take responsibility for positive and negative outcomes. Skills include identifying problems, analyzing situations, solving problems, and reflection.
  • Social-Awareness: The ability to empathize with others. Skills include empathy, appreciating differences, and respect.
  • Relationship Skills: The ability to relate well to others. Skills include communicating clearly, listening, cooperation, resisting negative pressure, resolving conflicts, and supporting one another.

Kids Soaring in School and Life

Research shows that effective social emotional education has the power to strengthen attachment to school and reduce negative classroom behavior, two significant predictors of who will succeed in school and stay in school.

We are changing the trajectory of kids’ lives. WINGS kids behave better in school, attend school regularly, improve academically, and are more skilled in managing their emotions and impulses. Read More >


In the third grade, Ty was the new kid at school, and new to WINGS. He was angry, short-tempered, and destructive. Believing that Ty’s strong emotions, like those of many of the children at WINGS, were connected to the academic challenges he was experiencing, we set out to give Ty the missing piece in his education.

We helped him identify that much of his anger was frustration with reading challenges. Ty’s WINGS mentor, Sherman, helped him puts words to that frustration and change the way he thought about his own abilities.

Sherman took advantage of every teachable moment to help Ty shed his defensive attitude and use coping skills when we he was feeling pressure. If Ty was about to throw a foul shot in basketball, Sherman would take a moment to ask Ty about the pressure he was feeling and ask what he could do right then to calm himself down. “I know I like to take two dribbles, take a long breath, and then shoot,” Ty said. If Ty drew a self-portrait in which he looked angry, Sherman sat down with him and talked about what Ty did and didn’t like about himself.

By learning how to identify and manage his emotions Ty was better equipped to cooperate with his classroom teachers and to improve his reading. When Ty was in fifth grade and preparing to leave elementary school he reflected on his time at WINGS saying, “If it wasn’t for WINGS, my life wouldn’t have changed. I would be 100% awful.”

Soar, Ty, SOAR!

If a child doesn’t know how to swim, we teach. If a child doesn’t know how to read, we teach.
But when a child doesn’t know how to behave, we punish. There is a better way.