Evidence shows young children need more than intellectual or motivational skills to be successful in school. They must be able to understand the feelings of others, control their own feelings and behaviors, and get along with their peers and teachers.
By developing good social-emotional skills, students learn to have empathy for others and to establish and sustain relationships. They learn how to manage strong emotions and express feelings in constructive ways.
The child’s social-emotional development influences all other areas of development — cognitive, motor, and language development . Quality preschool programs incorporate experiences and teachings which promote development of these skills . Understanding that children learn social skills best by modeling, repetition and practice, experienced teachers work with students to build language and other communication, that help with emotional growth and problem solving.
Consider what this might look like in a preschool environment:
The boys laugh as James pulls them in the wagon. Liam asks to ride, too. “No,” says James. “The wagon is full.”
Teacher Jenny watches Liam’s face sink and tears begin to well in his eyes. She asks Liam to verbalize his feelings and listens carefully to the problem.
“I can see that makes you sad,” she says. “What do you think you could do about that?”
Liams thinks carefully. “Well,” he says. “Maybe I can be the one to push the wagon instead of riding in it.”
“That a good idea,” says Teacher Jenny. “Let’s go ask.”