Encouraging social emotional development in preschool might be the most difficult job I have and also the most important. My days are filled with guiding behavior, teaching friendship skills, nurturing, giving positive descriptive feedback, resolving conflicts, redirecting, teaching children to recognize their feelings and caring about others.
Do you know? The single best childhood predictor of adult adaption is not school grades, and not classroom behavior, but rather, the adequacy with which the child gets along with other children. –Willard Hartup, President of International Society for the Study of Behavioral Development
These skills are crucial for children’s successful participation in school and home experiences and for their overall growth.
Helping children learn to get along starts with their own self concept. Mother Goose Time activities help children learn how to express their preferences, take responsibility and identify and mange their feelings.
Learning to recognize and identify personal feelings and use strategies to manage behaviors are all part of developing self concept. Our “I Am Special Trees” helped grow the child’s self concept by allowing them to do their own work (I CAN trace, cut, glue and paint to make this beautiful project), see the individuality of their projects and share a very special part of themselves – their hand – with their families.
Learning about the feeling of being surprised!
Play is a vehicle for friendship. Through play, we can teach children how to get along with their peers.
Friendship skills we can teach through play:
- Being helpful, assisting others
- Sharing & Taking turns
- Giving compliments
- Reading your friends cues/signals
- Building empathy
- Organizing play
- Knowing how and when to give apologies
Friend Puppets: Say hello to a friend. Puppets are great for role playing and demonstrating how to treat friends.Some toys and activities are designed for cooperative and interactive play. These two boys (age 21 months & 3 years, 8 months) were taking turns pulling each other in the wagon. Providing descriptive feedback and praising their cooperation helps all of the children present learn about how to treat one another.
Learning about sharing with “sharing boxes”. Sharing is not easy. Filling the box with special items they found outdoors, they could share them with their friends to practice the skill. First, I put some little candies in each box to demonstrate that I can share too.Children who are able to share have more positive experiences with their peers. Children may offer to share materials they are using, respond to request from others, ask others to share or refuse to share.
Friendship Train: Including everyone when you play
One Friend, Two Friends One friend, two friends, three friends, four, Five friends, six friends, Always room for more!
Self direction or self regulation includes: following rules and routines, maintaining attention, transitioning and adapting.
Games that return turn taking, help develop self regulation skills.
Waiting short periods of time for a turn encourages attention span growth. Sharing the spinner is not easy. Being respectful of others ideas and decisions is part of being a friend.
Community: A Sense of Belonging
We want children to feel welcome, secure and have a sense of belonging. Preschool provides structure and daily routines that create a secure environment. Preschool encourages independence through are many opportunities to practice and master skills such as handwashing, putting on shoes and jackets and helping one another.
Our Little Helper jobs have definitely brought a sense of community to our group. Everyone loves to do a job! It requires turn taking, helping each other and contributing to the needs of everyone.
Washing tables is a favorite job. A simple and safe method is using the travel size Norwex towels and water.
Feeding the rabbits is a daily chore. Animals need care too.
Snack time helper, counting out spoons. By helping with snack, he’s helping care for others and learning what he does is important to us.
Inviting families in for a preschool open house was a big step in including parents and family members in our little community.