07 Jul Social-Emotional Learning in Preschool
If we have learned anything in the age of “social distancing” it is how deeply we crave and need the society of others and how that ubiquitous term defines the challenge we have all been facing. Over these past months, Montclare has placed a high priority on maintaining the connection, albeit virtual, between our students and faculty, families, and school. While we know that this pandemic will not last forever, our human need for community and connection is hardwired at birth and will most certainly endure!
It is during the early childhood years that children develop the essential social and emotional skills needed to establish and maintain healthy relationships throughout their lives. Nurturing those skills is one of the principal reasons why parents choose to enroll their children in a high-quality preschool program.
There are five widely recognized developmental domains in early childhood and meeting all these benchmarks will be an essential component of any high-quality preschool experience:
- Cognitive Development
- Speech and Language Development
- Fine Motor Skill Development
- Gross Motor Skill Development
- Social and Emotional Development
Social-emotional development is defined as a child’s ability to learn how to manage emotions, acquire the vocabulary to express and label feelings, establish meaningful, healthy relationships, problem-solve with others, and make responsible decisions.
By joining a preschool community, children learning to share, compromise and collaborate with their peers. During this extraordinarily fertile period of growth, children expand their social skills and community circle to include new friends and other trusted grown-ups. While children may gravitate towards specific friends, it is also a time for young ones to learn the art of navigating different personalities, and conflicting opinions along with the needs of others.
Research has demonstrated that a healthy social-emotional foundation in early childhood not only provides children with the skills needed to establish meaningful, lasting, and healthy relationships but also leads to better academic performance in kindergarten and elementary school (Cohen and others 2005; Zero to Three 2004). While we all wish for our children to be successful in their academic pursuits, as human beings our lives are built upon relationships with family, friends, colleagues, and the many others who make up our various communities.
Montclare Children’s School provides an ample array of opportunities for young children to interact with one another and with other trusted adults, their teachers, and specialists. Montclare’s approach to delivering the curriculum is balanced and these interactions occur both during free, open-ended play, and also during teacher-scaffolded activities throughout the day. At Montclare, our early childhood educators and administrators are trained to support student’s learning, reinforce social bonds, and support a child’s social-emotional development throughout each and every school day. Especially during these times of distance learning, our teachers make extra efforts to engage and connect with each child. Many students show up to their zoom classes ready to engage and share with their teacher and friends!
Many articles have been written on the topic including:
- Coronavirus: Social distancing key to fighting COVID-19
- How to engage preschoolers on Zoom when social bonding is more important than ever
Throughout these months of distance learning, our faculty and the educational team have developed strategies for continuing to foster these social bonds through personalized learning in our zoom classes and frequent communications with our parents. While we can’t wait to see everyone in person again soon, we have learned that virtual connection carries authentic social-emotional value, and interactive virtual classes help support students’ social and emotional development and need for community.
“All that is valuable in human society depends upon the opportunity for development accorded the individual.” – Albert Einstein