Safe Healing and Learning Spaces Toolkit

What is a Safe Healing and Learning Space?

A Safe Healing and Learning Space (SHLS) is a secure, caring and predictable place where children and adolescents living in conflict and crisis settings can learn, develop and be protected. Research shows that regular access to caring and predictable learning spaces, combined with a safe and supportive home environment, can have a profound and lasting impact on children’s learning and well-being. To be effective, the activities and lessons that take place in an SHLS must include an explicit focus on social and emotional learning, along with more traditional academic skills, and must be delivered by a Facilitator who is supportive, responsive and has foundational knowledge in the content being taught.

What is inside the SHLS Toolkit?

The SHLS Toolkit provides frontline humanitarian staff with practical implementation guidance, adaptable sample tools, comprehensive training materials, and scripted instructional content. Resources are provided for a 9-month program, and applicable in both rural and urban areas, based on locally-defined needs and priorities. 

What are the outcomes of an SHLS?

During conflict and crisis, children are exposed to multiple and severe adversities, such as violence, abuse, displacement and an absence of support in the home and community. Frequent or prolonged exposure to such adversities without protective adult relationships can result in a form of stress known as toxic stress. Unaddressed, toxic stress can have a damaging effect on children’s brain development and, over time, can have cumulative effects on their overall health and well-being. But evidence shows that ensuring children have a safe, predictable environment with supportive adult relationships is a powerful way to mitigate or reverse the effects of toxic stress.

Topics included in the toolkit are: SHLS Approach, Social-Emotional Learning, Math, Reading, and Parenting Skills

Resource Info

Resource Type



Published by

International Rescue Committee (IRC)


Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS)
Social and Emotional Learning