Those of us who are in the field of Early Childhood Education know the importance of social and emotional development. It is the true foundation of school readiness. If a child is socially and emotionally prepared for learning, the ABC’s and 1, 2, 3 will come easier. Head Start/Early Head Start of Beaver County, a program of the Private Industry Council of Westmoreland/Fayette, Inc., focuses on social and emotional development throughout our programming for this reason.
While educators in the field know the importance of social and emotional learning, it is much harder to explain to families why we have our classrooms structured for creating emotional stable children instead of worksheets, coloring pages and homework. The following are things we do in the Early Head Start and Head Start classrooms daily that we can share with families as to how promote a positive environment for social/emotional growth.
- Use the Incredible Years social emotional curriculum and which assists to promote problem solving.
- The staff focuses on the positive behaviors of the children and utilizes positive discipline strategies.
- Each classroom is equipped with a calm down area to teach the children self-regulation.
- All staff implement, teach and consistently enforce classroom rules.
- Staff use job charts to help the children take ownership in their classroom environment.
- The children play games that promote taking turns and following directions.
- The books we read from our curriculum are carefully chosen to help in this domain of learning.
- Staff use conflict as an opportunity to teach problem-solving skills while modeling appropriate language to use in conflict situations.
- Children participate in small group activities that focus on teaching and modeling conflict resolution skills such as sharing, turn taking, compromising and asking for help.
If you ask any kindergarten teacher what they want their future students to know, they will say without a doubt, social and emotional maturity. The Early Head Start and Head Start programs do wonderful things each and every day for the children we serve in order to prepare them for school success. Part of this success is and part of our job as early childhood educators is to educate the families about why we do what we do. Through the use of social and emotional development, we are able to take pride in preparing the future generation to be successful in school as well as help families to be their child’s first teacher.