Everything that your preschoolers do in your classroom will help them build on their social and emotional learning. Helping your preschoolers build social and emotional learning should be of the highest priority. They are the most important skills they will learn in preschool, and is exactly what they need in order to be ready to move on to kindergarten. They are learning how to have positive interactions with their peers, solve problems together, play cooperatively, handle their emotions, and are beginning to understand others’ emotions as well.
WHY SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL LEARNING IS SO IMPORTANT
Social and emotional learning is the foundation for all other learning in preschool. Preschoolers learn through play, but that is much more difficult to do without the social skills needed to have successful positive interactions with others. Fostering your preschoolers’ social and emotional learning will give them the skills and confidence they need to be happy, successful learners.
SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL SKILLS LEARNED IN PRESCHOOL
Preschool is a time when children are constantly building on their social and emotional skills. Every interaction has the potential to teach or build onto an existing skill. Here are some of the social and emotional skills children learn in preschool:
- Taking turns
- Understands the concept of “mine” and “his/hers”
- Develops problem solving skills
- Shows affection spontaneously
- Likes to help
- Develops friendships
- Shows interest in being part of a group
- Becoming more independent
- Follows rules more willingly
HOW TO SUPPORT PRESCHOOLERS SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL LEARNING
When you are involved in your preschoolers’ play experiences you are better able to support their social and emotional learning. Asking them open-ended questions and guiding them through difficult interactions will help them learn new and useful tools for handling their emotions and participating in cooperative experiences with others.
LET THEM SOLVE THEIR OWN PROBLEMS
The best way for your preschooler to learn is through doing. Your child will have many opportunities to practice their problem solving skills through play. Don’t interfere unless really necessary. It is okay for them to struggle and become frustrated. This will build resiliency and confidence, making future problems less stressful for them to handle. When your preschooler does need assistance, try not to take over and simply solve the problem for them. instead, just guide them towards a solution through open-ended questions and your observations.
USE SOCIAL STORIES
Social stories take relatable real-life scenarios and make them easy for young children to understand. These are helpful for new situations that your preschooler may be nervous about, like going to the dentist. They are also great for demonstrating common conflicts your preschooler is likely to experience with their peers. With social stories your preschooler will see how the characters solve problems and how they can use the same tools in their conflicts with friends.
ENGAGE IN PRETEND PLAY WITH YOUR PRESCHOOLER
Engaging in pretend play with your preschoolers is probably the best way to support their social and emotional learning. Through pretend play you can play act real-life scenarios and model the best ways to handle them. Your preschoolers practice language skills, communication, and problem solving. They are able to do all of this while playing!
PLAY BOARD GAMES
Playing board games with your preschooler is a fun way to get your preschooler accustomed to taking turns. This is not as easy of a skill to master as it sounds. Simple board games that do not take too long to play, or too long to get another turn, are great for building your preschoolers social and emotional intelligence by creating opportunities to practice turn taking and playing cooperatively.