A high-quality childcare center is important for the social and emotional development of your child. An enormous amount of learning opportunities is presented to young children when they interact and play with both peers and adults alike.
Therefore, an appropriate social interactive environment like a childcare center helps children develop strong language skills, creativity, social intelligence, and self-confidence.
Before delving into the reasons why a childcare center is important for your child’s social and emotional development, we need to understand the meaning of “social and emotional development”.
What is Social and Emotional Development?
Social and emotional development means how children begin to understand who they are, what they feel, and what they expect when interacting with others. Children grow and develop rapidly in the first five years in four major areas of development. These areas are physical, cognitive, language and communication, and social and emotional. Consequently, they should be able to;
- Build and sustain positive relationships
- Experience, control, and express emotions
- Explore their environment
Positive social and emotional development also affects children’s ability to foster meaningful and lasting friendships, their empathy and self-confidence, and their importance and values to those around them, which is indispensable.
Why Social and Emotional Development is Important for a Child
The growth of social and emotional skills is development-oriented. This is because every child’s social and emotional skills develop as they grow. Interacting with others in their environment is key for children to learn empathy. For example, young children begin by learning to see themselves as individuals. They develop an understanding that they can have their own thoughts and feelings and that another person can have different thoughts and feelings. Therefore, as a parent or guardian, it is essential to promote the child’s social growth and support the child’s independence.
Using everyday real-life situations is a perfect way to teach and practice social and emotional skills with a child. For example, self-management skills are acquired when a child can control his or her emotions (in a candy shop) and wait for their turn. Hence, social and emotional development is a life-long process because it begins from birth and continues into adulthood.
Furthermore, social and emotional skills are often learned through modeling. Modeling involves children watching their parents or guardian express empathy, or model self-awareness and self-management skills.
Activities to Promote Social and Emotional Development
Mentally healthy children are happier, more enthusiastic to learn, more positive about school, more enthusiastic about class activities, and more likely to perform better than their unhealthy peers (Hyson 2004; Kostelnik et al. 2015). Thus, children with social and emotional difficulties tend to have difficulty following instructions and participating in learning activities. Compared to their healthy peers, they are more likely to suffer rejection by their classmates, have lower self-esteem, and may perform poorly in school.
Therefore, during your daily activities and routines, you should create opportunities that enhance children’s social-emotional skills.
Highlighted below are the two most important practices your childcare center must adhere to promote children’s social and emotional skills:
Build Trusting Relationships
A trustworthy and caring teacher-child relationship is essential for the optimal development of the child because young children develop and learn in the context of relationships.
Children benefit socially, emotionally, and academically when teachers intentionally build intimate and trustworthy relationships. However, gaining the trust of every child isn’t quite as easy as you think. Thus, how can you create a trusting relationship with every child? Here are the answers;
Show Warmth and Affection Consistently
Consistently showing warmth and affection – even on bad days that children misbehave and throw tantrum play an important role in building a trusting relationship. In other words, they contribute to the development of safe relationships between children and adults, provide models for good behavior, and are associated with children’s ability to communicate effectively with their peers.
Respect and Care About Every Child
Another key way to connect with children and strengthen positive relationships is by showing respect. It creates more confidence and competence amongst children to explore and learn. Consequently, establishing and maintaining close personal bonds with every child by consistently acting in a respectful and caring way is vital. You need to;
- Understand and acknowledge children’s feelings.
- Listen to children attentively.
- Spend private quality time with each child through one-on-one activities such as reading stories and playing games.
Help Children Develop Social and Emotional Skills
So how can you help children develop social and emotional skills? Social capabilities do not just include the ability to collaborate with peers. It also includes the ability to express feelings, show empathy, share generously, and several others.
Fortunately, there are several ways you can help children develop these very important social and emotional skills.
Plan Various Activities
Planning various activities such as songs, games, hands-on crafts, painting, etc. is essential. It creates a bond amongst children and makes it easier for them to relate to and understand one another.
Use Children’s Books
Reading and discussing children’s books is a great way to teach children to learn about their character’s feelings and relate their experiences to their own. Also, choosing books that are related to children’s recent social and emotional behavior is very important. This is because it would enable you to connect the characters and situations in the book with the children’s experience. As a result, children would be able to learn and talk about their experiences, learn new vocabulary words, and practice social and emotional skills.
Give Effective Praise
Meaningful feedback on the task at hand in the form of effective praise is a powerful strategy for promoting a child’s social and emotional development. Thus, to give effective praise, you need to describe specifically what you see – without evaluating, generalizing, or making a comparison. For example, when a child shows you his/her drawing of a rose flower, you could say, “ wow! what a beautiful rose flower. I believe you drew a rose flower because it’s your favorite flower, isn’t it?”
This praise is effective because it provides detailed and positive feedback as soon as the desired action takes place.
Model Appropriate Behavior
Observation plays an important role in how a child learns new things. Children will have a good solid understanding of how to interact with other people outside their home If they see you expressing gratitude, being helpful, or sharing feelings.
Additionally, you can model these behaviors in your home with both your child and other family members. Every time you say “thank you” or “please”, you are simply portraying how you want your children to behave.
Reinforce Good Behavior
Most importantly, offering praise when children demonstrate good social behavior is vital. It helps a child feel good about himself and it also helps develop a sense of empathy and emotional competence. Hence, children will naturally begin to become more generous and thoughtful when you create a positive climate where they are allowed to share their feelings.
Thus, not only does reinforcing good behavior make the infant feel better about themselves, but it also helps them understand why certain actions are so desirable and commendable.
You can also increase empathy and build emotional intelligence by encouraging your child to think about other people’s feelings. The first step is to inquire about the child’s feelings, by asking questions related to the child’s life. “How did you feel when you lost your favorite doll?“ Do you love your new toy?”
Once a child is comfortable expressing his/her emotions, begin asking questions about how other people may feel. “How do you think your friends will feel if you refuse to share your toys?”
Another skill that benefits tremendously from direct experience is cooperation. One of the best ways to teach your child about relationships with other children is by giving the child the opportunity to interact and play with other children. Young children can sometimes feel frustrated playing with their peers because they lack patience and the ability to share; however, things can start to gradually improve with age and experience.
The Importance of Childcare Center for Social-Emotional Development
A high-quality childcare center ensures your child is safe and healthy. Also, they offer a mix of care, education, and recreational program to suit your child. Thus, this helps children develop the skills necessary to succeed within and outside school environments.
Furthermore, every childcare center must ensure that your environment provides a warm home for the children in your care. In other words, it should meet their needs for safety, security, and a sense of belonging.
Social-Emotional Environment for Infant and Toddler
For infants and toddlers, creating a safe environment in which they can meaningfully bond with you is important for their positive social and emotional development. Every child develops differently, however, they all need consistent, warm, nurturing care as infants and toddlers.
Therefore, ensure your home environment meets their needs for diapering, feeding, and also allows them to sleep when tired.
Here are some tips on how to care for infants and toddlers:
- Engage in conversation with the child during diapering, feeding, dressing, etc.
- Allow the child to be socially free when ready.
- Acknowledge the child’s efforts in dealing with you. Look where the child is pointing and comment or name what they are referring to. Respond to rumbling and other sounds. These deliberate interactions create a bond between you and the child and make them feel comfortable.
- Provide opportunities for infants and toddlers to explore safely in your home.
- Provide various recreational activities for children to build relationships with peers.
Social-Emotional Environment for Preschoolers’
The social-emotional development of preschoolers also depends on being in a safe and warm environment. Generally, preschoolers learn from modeling and imitation because they grow at a very fast pace. They pick up words and habits from what they hear and see every day. Hence, you must remember that what you say and how you say it has a significant impact on the social development of every child under your care.
Here are some tips on how to care for preschoolers’:
- Model appropriate language and encourage children to talk to one another to solve problems.
- Take note of children’s interests and incorporate them into the environment.
- Encourage friendships between every child in your home (regardless of age difference). This fosters a sense of community in your childcare center.
- Encourage children to share their thoughts and feelings (this may be important especially if they’re worried about the absence of a parent).
Social-Emotional Environment for School-Age Children
School-age children may seem more socially and emotionally mature than the younger children under your care; however, they still make mistakes. Thus, when you build compassionate relationships between all the children you care for; provide structure and safety, and set reasonable boundaries, you help create a sense of community.
Here are some tips on how to care for school-age children:
- Encourage school-age children to help younger children because it gives older children the opportunity to model socially appropriate behavior for younger children.
- Adopt a zero-tolerance policy on bullying.
- School-age children understand separation due to work or military deployment. Hence, you must be warm and nurturing when a child faces such a difficult issue, and also provide a place for them to be alone if they need it.
- Allow children to express their feelings and pay attention to them. Children of this age often learn to deal with social issues in schools and communities – you are a trusted adult they can seek help and advice.
Help pave the path to your child’s future by enrolling him or her in childcare services at Perfect Angels Learning Center. At Perfect Angels Learning Center, our highly trained teachers make it their goal to help your child succeed by understanding how your child learns and grows. We will work with your child to help them develop the social and emotional skills they need for future academic success. Visit Perfect Angels Learning Center today and discover how our program can help your child learn and grow.