Articles and Advice
Social and Emotional Development
One of the ways we show respect for children is by enhancing their developmental
opportunities. By investing in their development, we are signaling that we believe
in them and see them as capable and competent. It is tempting to focus on easily
recognized academic skills, but the importance of social and emotional development
cannot be underestimated.
After reviewing decades of early education research, the National Research Council
has concluded that social skills, emotional capabilities and dispositions toward
learning that children acquire during early childhood are inexplicably linked to
their learning and success later in life.
In addition, a variety of research studies focusing on the perceptions of kindergarten
teachers, consistently report that positive social and emotional skills at kindergarten
entry are as important to school success than specific academic skills.
In these studies, kindergarten teachers emphasize the importance of:
- ability to follow directions
- sensitivity to others
- turn taking
- non-disruptive classroom behavior
Other social and emotional abilities often linked to school success include persistence,
active or focused participation, independence, appropriate risk taking, and self
regulation. Research indicates that children who frequently exhibit these skills
are likely to be those who take responsibility for their own learning and show high
levels of interest and ownership in learning.
There is a great deal teachers can do to help support children's developing social
and emotional capabilities. Take an active part in your child's early childhood
education to ensure that their daycare provider will:
- Develop warm, positive relationships with children;
- Plan activities that allow children to work independently and in large and small
- Implement games and activities that practice cooperation and turn taking
- Encourage children to work on activities that are challenging and require time to
- Notice and praise behaviors that show sensitivity for others
- Use guidance techniques to diminish disruptive behaviors as they occur
- Help children live up to high expectations by clearly stating rules and directions
and reinforcing them as needed
- Resist the temptation to do for children those things they are capable of doing
- Arrange the classroom and equipment to allow children to be as independent as possible;
- Show patience as children practice and perfect social skills slowly over time; and
- Model the positive social and emotional skills they desire children to exhibit.
« Back to Articles