RULER in Out-of-School Time (OST) provides resources to implement RULER in youth-serving programs. These resources support social and emotional development of staff working with youth and the young people attending afterschool programs, camps, clubs, sports, and other spaces outside of the school day. 

Integrating social and emotional learning (SEL) into out-of-school time settings benefits the emotional well-being of both adults and youth. When OST staff shift their own mindsets to value and understand the impact of emotions, they have a greater influence in the lives of youth.  

Any program can use these resources, with no fee associated, thanks to generous support from the Wallace Foundation

The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) defines social and emotional learning as “the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.” RULER OST offers resources to build social and emotional learning into OST practice.

Findings from a 2019 survey* conducted by the National Afterschool Association suggests that even though programs and organizations value and implement social and emotional learning, many individuals who are part of those programs do not feel that they can speak knowledgeably about it. In our own focus group work, we have found that OST staff are in need of more effective, relevant, and engaging training in order to help the youth with whom they work. 

Supporting youths’ social and emotional learning does not happen by accident. Intentional practices are essential to achieving positive youth outcomes. This includes both creating warm and inclusive program climates and designing experiences that develop specific skills. These practices encourage youth engagement in expanded learning opportunities and set the stage for long-term impact on youths’ wellbeing.

RULER in OST Overview

RULER in OST consists of 7 brief staff development videos and supplemental resources on the skills and tools of emotional intelligence and other topics relevant to working with youth. We understand that it can be difficult to train staff and implement new approaches in OST settings. Thus, RULER in OST implementation is flexible. Content can be completed independently by staff at their own pace or integrated into staff meetings over time.

Incorporating RULER in OST into Your Program

RULER in OST is designed to address the common needs of OST programs. Our hope is that in doing this, we can eliminate barriers that create challenges for sustainable SEL implementation with youth. Below are some of the unique benefits of RULER in OST.  

  • Accessible staff development for varying levels of education and experience. Staff in OST settings often vary in their level of education and experience in child development and pedagogy. RULER in OST was developed with input from OST leaders and staff from a variety of geographic areas to ensure that language, imagery, and situations speak to a diverse audience. As such, our content is delivered in a way that is accessible to staff of any education background or prior experience with youth.

  • Convenient online staff learning and implementation. OST programs often struggle with a lack of staff development time. RULER in OST is structured so that onboarding new staff is manageable and ongoing training is sustainable.

    • Videos are 5 to 8 minutes long and can be viewed independently or in group settings.

    • Reflections can be used by individuals or in groups.

    • Activities are 10-25 minutes long and can be incorporated into short training windows.

  • Flexible routines for varied levels of student participation. Youth attend OST programs on different days or during different seasons. A sequenced curriculum can be ineffective when attendance can vary. RULER in OST leverages routines to overcome challenges presented by inconsistent attendance to help create a common language around emotions.

  • Adaptive student activities for varying ages. Depending on the program, staff might be working with youth of a wide age range. RULER in OST provides helpful adaptations and opportunities for older students to work with younger children so that they can serve as role models.


Here are some of the most common questions people have asked about RULER in OST

RULER in OST resourses will be available in late 2022. Please join our mailing list to be notified when they are available.

There is no fee, thanks to generous support from the Wallace Foundation.

These resources can be used in afterschool programs, camps, clubs, sports, parks and recreation programs, etc.  Any organized program that works with youth outside of school time will be able to take advantage of RULER in OST!

No, although we highly recommend it. RULER is a systemic approach that supports entire school communities (leaders, educators, students, and families) in understanding the value of emotions, building emotional intelligence skills, and creating and maintaining positive learning environments. Implementing RULER in out-of-school time at RULER trained schools provides continuity through the use of a common emotions language and familiar routines and tools. OST presents youth with opportunities to practice skills in a variety of settings.

Please email with any questions you may have.

Ready to Get Started?

RULER in OST videos and resources will become available in late 2022. In the meantime, please check out these helpful resources below built in collaboration with the Susan Crown Exchange:

Are you looking to train new RULER implementation team members at your school during the 2024-25 school year? Applications for our upcoming RULER Training Institutes are now open.

 Join us online (October 7-November 15) or in person (October 14-15) this fall!