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March 6, 2023 / Blog

Why Is Social Emotional Development Important in Early Childhood Education?

What Is Social Emotional Development in Early Childhood? 

The social emotional development of young children is paramount to their overall development and future success in school and beyond. Otherwise known as early childhood mental health, social emotional development skills are acquired from infancy. The importance of social emotional development in early childhood is critical during the windows of opportunity from 0-48 months. During this time period, children go through social emotional development stages as their brains are rapidly developing and can be positively shaped by the environment, caregivers, and early childhood educators. This early stage of life impacts not only physical development, language, and cognitive development, but also social emotional development.


In early childhood, social emotional development skills affect children’s ability to form lasting relationships with caregivers and educators, as well as their peers. Young children learn to manage their emotions in a positive way by recognizing each emotion they feel. They are able to respond to other people’s emotions in a way that respects and comforts the other person. The children also develop positive social emotional skills due to their environment. As the children develop these social and emotional skills, they may begin to build a sense of identity and self-confidence. 


At Frog Street, we have implemented healthy social emotional development practices in all of our early childhood curriculums, including the Infant curriculum, Toddler curriculum, Preschool curriculum for three-year-olds, and Pre-K curriculum. The social emotional development within Frog Street curriculums foster kindergarten readiness. We understand that social emotional development in early childhood influences the child’s overall development and future success, as well as the ability to maintain positive relationships. It’s also important to remember that social emotional development is as essential as the child’s overall physical health.


How To Promote Social Emotional Development in the Classroom for Early Learners

Early childhood educators, teachers, parents, and caregivers have the ability to foster healthy social emotional development in young children. These relationships provide the children with a nurturing and caring environment whether it’s at home, at a childcare facility, or in an early childhood classroom.


Many states have adopted some form of social emotional development into their early childhood curriculums. Teachers go through proper training to implement social emotional development into their daily lesson plans effectively. In the classroom, early childhood professionals show empathy and respect as they model appropriate behaviors to their young students to instill positive social emotional skills. They listen attentively to children, provide a space for one-on-one interactions, teach children to problem solve by asking questions, and positively reinforce appropriate behavior. 


Cultural differences in students are celebrated and respected in early childhood education, and they allow relationships to form in the classroom between educators and students, as well as their families for a deeper connection. Promoting parental involvement also helps to foster  positive social emotional development skills. 


It’s the job of the early childhood teacher to determine if children are experiencing any obstacles to social emotional development and provide the appropriate activities. Early childhood professionals will then reach out to families to provide information so  those children with challenging behaviors receive the appropriate positive guidance. 


Social Emotional Development Activities for Preschoolers

The early childhood classroom can be enhanced with social emotional development activities for young children. Guided play is an example of an activity that fosters children’s social emotional development. Teachers and caregivers also use books, music, card and board games, group discussions, puppets, and story time to build upon social emotional development in early childhood. 


These examples of social emotional development activities are used in classrooms and by caregivers to help children understand positive behavior, cooperation, sharing, understanding, and problem-solving skills. The social emotional development activities for preschoolers provide real experiences for children to learn proper social and emotional skills at home and in the preschool classroom.


What Are Social Emotional Development Milestones for Young Children? 

Children who are socially and emotionally healthy will typically be able to follow instructions and listen to directions. They will often be in a positive mood and can handle other emotions like anger, frustration, and sadness appropriately. The young children can show empathy to peers and adults when observing their emotions. Children who have a healthy set of social emotional skills can communicate clearly, compromise, share, and take turns during playtime. They are able to develop lasting and meaningful connections with parents, teachers, and caregivers, as well as other children. 


While these are the typical social emotional development skills that most children at or around age five have acquired, a smaller percentage of children may be delayed in social emotional development due to their environments and lack of positive and nurturing relationships. Children who have dealt with trauma, neglect, stress, and abuse in any form will often require extra attention and care when fostering social emotional development. All children develop these social emotional skills at different rates. 


The children with healthy social emotional development skills will be able to ask questions to promote learning, solve their own problems, express their thoughts, and try new things while increasing their confidence. They will continue to build on this foundation of social emotional development in early childhood and learn other skills to ensure they are kindergarten ready and are set up to succeed in the future.