A racially and economically diverse preschool in St. Louis struggles to address the social and emotional learning needs of its students.

Mila Medrano, 4, works on her writing and drawing.
Photo by Aaron Holdmeyer, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

University City Children’s Center is rare among St. Louis preschools: It is racially and economically diverse. Considered a pioneer in early childhood education, the school is experimenting with an evidence-based approach that emphasizes the social and emotional development of young children. A growing body of research has linked this educational process—called SEL or Social and Emotional Learning— with long-term academic and life success.

In her feature article, columnist Aisha Sultan takes readers inside this innovative preschool. Readers witness many of the challenges educators face in trying to address the harsh realities of educational inequity—and to give kids who have suffered emotional and physical trauma the best early childhood education they deserve and need.

Sultan’s story was originally published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on August 1, 2015.

Story Link

Teaching grit, wanting to quit

The online version of this story includes video footage of the preschool teachers teaching students the various aspects of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), such as curiosity, compassion and persistence.

Aisha Sultan is a nationally syndicated columnist, and home and family editor for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Her work has appeared in more than a hundred print and online publications. She was a 2011-2012 Knight Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan, where she studied parenting and privacy in the digital age. Sultan is a regular radio commentator on CNN and MSNBC, and local affiliate news programs. She is a speaker on subjects related to education, parenting and the Muslim-American experience.