March 27, 2020, is International SEL Day!


The Urban Assembly and SEL4US invite communities across the globe to celebrate the importance of social-emotional learning (SEL) on the first annual International SEL Day on March 27, 2020.

We know that SEL changes lives.

Studies show that SEL provides many benefits to students—from improved social-emotional skills, well-being and behavior to improved academic outcomes—and these results are long-term and global, with proven positive impact up to 18 years later on academics, conduct problems, emotional distress, and drug use.

SEL competencies are also critically important for long-term success in today’s economy.

We know you get it, but many members of our communities don’t know about SEL yet.

Join the Movement!

That which we call a (toy) rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

During Play-Based Centers the objects at each center are referred to as “materials,” and not as “toys.”  There are two reasons for this.

First, most items at the centers would not actually be categorized as toys. For example, magnifying glasses, scissors, dry erase markers, yoga mats, and books are not usually labeled as toys. The word “materials” better encompasses the wide range of objects that might be used during PBC. 

The second reason that the term “materials” is recommended, is simply because the word “toys” has a common association with experiences that are frivolous and have no value or purpose. This bias is especially true in schools, where it sometimes feels like every minute is scheduled and every experience must have a defined objective and predetermined purpose. As though no learning is possible unless it has been planned ahead and rigidly controlled by an adult. (Yes, this is sad but true. And better left to another blog post. . .)

Consider these two sentences that describe the exact same action:

  1. Mari played with toy flowers at the Imagination Center, during our daily playtime.  
  2. Mari explored with materials at the Imagination Center, during our daily PBC block.

See the difference? The words we choose matter. And unfortunately, until the play-instinct is better recognized and valued in education, we must choose our words carefully or jeopardize the credibility of our efforts.   

At the Imagination Center, where students have created a Florist Shop, Mari carefully arranges silk roses. And yes, to Mari they smell just as sweet, whether we call them toys or materials.  

Play on, my friends!