Social/Emotional Development during the preschool years is about socialization - the process by which children learn the values and behaviors accepted by society. It is also about becoming a competent and confident person.
There are three goals for social/emotional development:
- Achieving a sense of self: knowing oneself and relating to other people - both children and adults.
- Taking responsibility for self and others: following rules and routines, respecting others, and taking initiative.
- Behaving in a prosocial way: showing empathy and getting along in the world, for example, by sharing and taking turns.
Social and emotional competence are essential to children's well-being, and success, in school and in life. With the current focus on readiness, accountability, and high standards, we can not ignore aspects of development that are equally important for achieving long lasting and positive results in lieu of academic content.
A Good Beginning: Sending America's Children to School with the Social and Emotional Competence They Need To Succeed (The Child Mental Health Foundations and Agencies Network, 2000, p.7) provides evidence that social/emotional readiness is critical to a successful kindergarten transition, early school success, and even later accomplishments in the workplace. The report describes a child who is socially and emotionally ready for school. The child is
- confident, friendly, able to develop good relationships with peers
- able to concentrate on a persist at challenging tasks
- able to communicate frustrations, anger, and joy effectively
- able to listen to instructions and be attentive
Social and emotional readiness can be taught and nurtured most effectively when children are young. Because preschool is a prime setting for gaining social and emotional competence, social/emotional development is an important focus for our teachers.