This thesis introduces a novel application of the fusion between Differentiated Instruction (DI) and Social Emotional Learning (SEL) as a needed and reciprocal relationship in the early childhood classroom. DI is an approach to teaching that aims to tailor the teacher’s instruction to the individual needs of each child. Instruction, content, and students' expression of knowledge can each be differentiated. Differentiation itself is a vast topic that begs to be narrowed and balanced. Some teachers experience obstacles to differentiation or struggle to efficiently differentiate their classroom. In an attempt to solve this phenomenon, this thesis explored DI and specifically its pairing with SEL. SEL refers to any instruction that pertains to the child’s social development, emotional development, or the overlapping of the two domains, identity, sense of self, self-regulation, and self-control. This thesis examined how to fuse these two vital and valid approaches of the classroom in order to benefit and maximize our early childhood students’ potential. In order to provide important information on how to fuse DI and SEL for the benefit of their future students, this thesis provides a thorough review of related research. Further, this thesis aids the execution of differentiation in the early childhood classroom by fusing DI with SEL. Based on the needs identified by the research literature, this thesis synthesized information to create a website with Google Sites to share information and steps to preservice teachers on how to fuse DI and SEL. The website features a comprehensive classroom simulation based on the fusion of DI and SEL which takes the form of a digital escape room. Results emphasize how DI is enhanced through SEL materials and experiences, and how SEL can enhance ways to differentiate so as to boost student learning.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Roberts, Sherron Killingsworth


Bachelor of Science (B.S.)


College of Community Innovation and Education


School of Teacher Education

Degree Program

Early Childhood Development and Education



Access Status

Open Access

Release Date