Merrell’s Strong Kids

image-fanMerrell’s Strong Kids is a social and emotional learning curriculum, developed under the direction of the late Kenneth W. Merrell, PhD and with his research group at the University of Oregon, the Oregon Resiliency Project (ORP). Given the alarming rates of childhood mental health problems and subsequent poor access to services, the focus on addressing mental health problems has shifted from treating disease to primary prevention and building strength.

ORP was interested in developing an easy-to-use, low cost, and practical curriculum that could be implemented in school classrooms. The primary goal was to teach students social and emotional skills known to boost resilience. Evidence-based instructional strategies were infused into the content to insure that the information is delivered in an effective manner. The end product is a series of social and emotional lessons, spanning Pre-K to Grade 12, that has shown considerable promise in promoting resilience in a setting where children spend a considerable part of their day: school.

The curriculum is comprised of:

  • Merrell’s Strong Start PreK
  • Merrell’s Strong Start K-2
  • Merrell’s Strong Kids Grades 3-5
  • Merrell’s Strong Kids Grades 6-8, and
  • Merrell’s Strong Teens Grades 9-12

Lessons focus on identifying emotions in self and others, managing anger, managing emotions, finding alternative ways to view situations, stress management, setting goals, taking care of oneself, and solving interpersonal problems.

The curriculum has been evaluated with students in regular and special education classrooms, with at-risk, urban, and culturally diverse populations, immigrants to the United States, and students living in a residential facility. Results from this research are encouraging and are expected to grow over many years. The response from educators has been universally positive.

To obtain Merrell’s Strong Kids, visitBrookes Publishing

For more information on the program and supportive materials, visit:

Per the wishes of the late Dr. Merrell, all royalties go to the Kenneth W. Merrell Legacy ScholarshipThis fund annually awards graduate students in the School Psychology Program at the University of Oregon who demonstrate promise for leadership and service in the field. 

For more information on support available to implement Merrell’s Strong Kids, contact Barbara Gueldner at: or 970-761-0041.


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