Social development starts the moment the child is born and emotional development starts even before the child is born. Thus these skills are not something a child starts developing when they enter a preschool. In fact research tells us that Social and Emotional skills are essential for school readiness. Therefore we see that the initial contributors to the development of these two skills are the child’s family and the home environment. From the time a child is born the child adopt certain skills and abilities that are an integral part of growing, right from the time we are born into this world.
Early Years is a time for rapid growth in every sphere of an individual. Major skill development takes place during this time. Children in this age are great observers, which plays a vital role in learning new things and understanding the world around them.
Social competence is seen not just when we co-operate with peers but it involves abilities like showing empathy, expressing feelings, sharig and caring. Children are social beings and are , as mentioned earlier, great observers thus they will quickly follow what is showcased to them. It is therefore our responsibility as adults to model the kind of behaviour we desire in our children. Social and emotional skills prepare us for life. As children start playing and interacting, they begin to develop these skills. Home and School are two important places where these skills are learnt the maximum. Thus Schools and Homes need to be on the same page to help children learn that certain behaviours are desirable and praise worthy while other behaviours and not.
Helping children feel good about themselves plays a very important part in developing desirable social and emotional skills like showing empathy, kindness, etc. Creating a positive environment, be it in school or at home, where children are able to freely express themselves goes a long way in developing healthy emotional and social skills.
Exposing children to interaction between different age groups helps them learn cooperation and collaboration and they also get opportunities to implement and practice these two very important skills. As children relate to different people they learn important social skills like problem solving, conflict management, negotiation and compromise etc. They also learn about themselves –their likes and dislikes, their strengths and weaknesses, consequences of assertive and aggressive behaviour etc. thus developing an understanding of self, leading to good, healthy emotional development.