Social-Emotional Learning

Dr. Arnold P. Goldstein and Dr. Ellen McGinnis developed skillstreaming with the intention of creating an evidence-based prosocial skills training program that enhances social-emotional competence for children and adolescence. Social-emotional learning is critical for holistic development because it increases prosocial behaviors in children and adolescents. Teaching children prosocial skills is a favorable alternative to punishing them for misbehavior.  

” Just as we must teach young children to tie their shoes and understand that sounds are associated with the letters of the alphabet, so must we teach them the behavioral skills that lead to happier school, home and community experiences.” 

—Braslow et al. (2010)


Four-Part Training Approach 

The skillstreaming method takes a four-part approach to help students acquire 40 prosocial skills. The four-part approach comes into play when teaching new prosocial skills. The skills being taught vary based on the age of the children being worked with. For example, one of the prosocial skills pre-K through 1st-grade students may learn could be “rewarding yourself” (skill 5) Braslow et al. (2010).

Using skill 5 as an example, the four-step approach comes into play by:

(1) modeling how students can reward themselves;

(2) role-playing actions that are indicative of the prosocial skill being taught (e.g. practicing positive affirmations can be considered a method of role-playing skill 5);

(3) receiving performance feedback from teachers;

(4) Generalizing scenarios in which the prosocial skill(s) is appropriate 

  • Modeling
  • Role-playing behaviors
  • Performance Feedback 
  • Generalization
Skillstreaming in the Elementary School: Lesson Plans and Activities, by Ellen McGinnis, © 2005, Champaign, IL: Research Press

Knowledge is power and skillstreaming is the key to successful emotional learning for children and adolescents.

For more information about the latest advances in social-emotional learning research visit the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning website.


Braslow, R. Klaus, R., & Mantzoros, K. (2010). “Skillstreaming Presentation Overview”. Curriculum Framework.

Goldstein, A. P., & McGinnis, E. (2022). “Skillstreaming “. Research Press. A social-emotional learning program.


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