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Al’s Pals Kids Making Healthy Choices

Date Submitted: 09/08/2021

Contact Information:

Amber Cuyler

Program Manager


Great Plains Child Care Resource & Referral

901 South Broadway, Hobart, OK 73651

Rating Category: Promising Research

Focus Area: Social Emotional Learning

Focus Population: Children, Teachers, Owners, Caregivers, Guardians, Administrators, Parents

Goals and Outcomes:

Young children need social–emotional learning now more than ever. In addition to common and adverse childhood events that can result in trauma, young children are now also experiencing pandemic related stress. That stress, combined with school and childcare closures, has magnified concerns for children who have experienced trauma, especially our most vulnerable children, and elevated the importance of providing all young children with positive social–emotional skills to prepare for life’s challenges.

Social-emotional learning (SEL) is the critical foundation required for all other learning and development to occur and is associated with later academic and social functioning. Preschoolers need SEL curricula that is designed to meet their specific needs. Meta-analysis demonstrated that preschool children benefit from SEL interventions in different contexts, particularly those who were identified as being in need of early intervention. Moreover, best practices for preschool SEL interventions may differ from best practices for K–12 students, given the developmental uniqueness of the preschool years. (Murano, Sawyer & Lipnevich, 2020)

Teaching Strategies has been committed to social-emotional learning for our youngest learners for more than 40 years. We now also offer a nationally recognized and evidence-based comprehensive social–emotional learning curriculum and professional development program designed to meet the specific needs of preschool children.

Al’s Pals™ Kids Making Healthy Choices promotes protective factors, fosters the personal traits of resiliency, encourages the nurturing environments that children need to overcome difficulties and fully develop their talents and capabilities, and helps lessens the effects of adverse childhood events and trauma. Al’s Pals promotes protective factors that have been shown to lessen the long-term effects of trauma by providing young children with skills to prepare for life’s challenges through interactive lessons, engaging puppets, original music, and impactful teaching approaches. Al's Pals also develops teachers who cultivate deeper relationships with children, creates nurturing classrooms, reinforces core concepts at home with families, and fosters positive peer relationships resulting in a network that works together to build resilient children who have a place in their community and the world.

Brief Summary of Target Population and Issues/Challenges:

Al’s Pals: Kids Making Healthy Choices is a nationally recognized, top-rated, evidence-based and research-informed comprehensive social–emotional learning (SEL) classroom curriculum and professional development program. It promotes resiliency in children ages 3-6 through the development of social–emotional skills, self-control, problem-solving abilities, and healthy decision-making. Al’s Pals promotes protective factors, fosters the personal traits of resiliency, and encourages nurturing environments needed for children to overcome difficulties and fully develop their talents and capabilities. The curriculum helps lessen the effects of adverse childhood events and trauma.

The 46 interactive lessons use guided creative play, brainstorming, puppetry, original music, and movement to develop children’s social-emotional competence and life skills. Al’s Pals teaches children how to:

  • Express feelings appropriately; use kind words

  • Care about others

  • Think independently

  • Accept differences; make friends

  • Solve problems peacefully; use self-control

  • Cope

  • Make safe and healthy choices

  • Understand that tobacco, alcohol, and illegal drugs are not for children

Al’s Pals was originally designed for and piloted with preschool children considered to be at risk due to poverty and other factors. The program was initially piloted in Head Start and other community-based child development centers whose populations primarily included Black/African American and White children. Since the initial pilot, the program has been expanded and found to be effective with children of all socioeconomic and racial backgrounds living in urban, suburban, and rural areas. Al’s Pals has been proven to work in preschools, early elementary school grades, after-school programs, and child care centers.

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