For early childhood educators, there is always a push to make sure that children are “ready for Kindergarten”. For many parents and providers that means that children must be proficient in early math, science and literacy. And, while children should definitely be exposed to all of these concepts in a play based setting, there is a growing body of evidence showing that prosocial behavior is the greatest predictor of later school success. What exactly does this mean for educators, and how can we make sure that we are supporting children with opportunities for social emotional learning?
Family childcare, with it’s low ratios, continuity of care ( children generally stay for more than a year) and mixed age groups provides plenty of opportunities for social emotional learning. There are a number of ways that you can make sure that your program is structured so that children benefit from these learning opportunities.
- Provide a loving and stable environment. This is something that I KNOW you are already doing, but it bears repeating. Children thrive when they feel secure. So even, or especially, on those days when nothing is going right (and we all have them!), remember that the children are counting on you to stay calm, cool and collected.
- Pay attention, observe, and teach pro social skills intentionally. If the children in your group are struggling with taking toys from others, use the opportunity to help them to navigate the situation by giving them the appropriate words and actions. Punishment or discipline in these situations does not help children to learn, so be sure and keep your interactions positive.
- Use books and puppets to illustrate situations that are coming up in your program. As you read, you can make the connection between “real life” behaviors and what is happening in the books.
- Finally, set up activities in the program that give children a chance to practice these skills. Remember, with a mixed age group children will be at different places in their development, so giving older children the opportunity to model appropriate behavior for the younger ones helps to strengthen self confidence and leadership skills.
When meeting prospective parents, be sure and let them know about your commitment to social emotional learning and how it will impact children’s confidence and ultimately school readiness.
I would love to hear about how you implement social emotional learning in your program! Join us for Wonder+Connect. Register here: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZUlfuirpzkjGdVTDWfP8ST9mwvi4oUwd4Yf