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This study investigated the effect of a social and emotional learning skills curriculum, the "You Can Do It! Early Childhood Education Program" (YCDI), on the social-emotional development, well-being, and academic achievement of 99 preparatory and grade 1 students attending a Catholic school in Melbourne, Australia. One preparatory and one grade 1 class were randomly chosen to receive structured lessons in YCDI, delivered by their classroom teachers over a period of 10 weeks, while the remaining preparatory and grade 1 class served as the control group. The lessons were designed to teach young children confidence, persistence, organisation and emotional resilience. The educational program consisted of explicit, direct instruction lessons drawn from the YCDI Early Childhood Curriculum taught three times a week, supported by a variety of additional social and emotional teaching practices. The results indicated that YCDI had a statistically significant positive effect on levels of social-emotional competence and well-being for the preparatory and grade 1 students, a reduction in problem behaviours (externalising, internalising, and hyperactivity problems) for the grade 1 students, and an increase in reading achievement (decoding text) for the lower achieving grade 1 students. These findings are discussed with regard to issues concerning the role of explicit instruction in social and emotional learning for the early years.

This article discusses the non-academic, social-emotional factors that contribute to student academic achievement, including the cognitive-behavioral characteristics of underachieving students and those with learning disabilities; the "You Can Do It! Education" (YCDI) theory of achievement; derivative research on social-emotional capabilities, called the Five Foundations (Academic Confidence, Work Persistence, Work Organization, Getting Along, Emotional Resilience) that, when delayed, produce achievement problems; and recommendations for developing students' social-emotional competence. The research reviewed demonstrates that the Five Foundations and associated Habits of the Mind can be taught to young people, producing increased effort with schoolwork and better achievement.