10 Signs of Social-Emotional Development in the Preschool Classroom

My little boy is a few years away from preschool but I'm already noticing advertisements for preschools around town.

Crafts and calendar time are not at the top of the list when I'm looking for a preschool. I'm looking for early childhood programs that focus on social-emotional development.

What About ABCs & Pre-academics?

Knowing alphabet letters is important and, yes, I do want to help my little guy have a strong foundation for learning to read... but I can read with him at home and I can teach him other pre-academic skills like rote and correspondence counting.

What's harder for me to teach him are play skills because he needs peer interactions. I'm a fan of setting up playdates and going to preschool provides the consistent opportunities he needs to access his peers and develop friendships.

The reason I'm more concerned about him developing social skills is because there's research that a preschooler's academic success in third grade is correlated more with their social skills in preschool than their pre-academic skills.

So if you want to child to have more academic success, research suggests that we worked on your preschooler's social skills. Play is the best place for preschoolers to learn and practice their social skills so bring on the playdates and playtime!

Signs of a Social-Emotional Focus in the Pre-K Class

To learn how to develop good social skills, you need to see how others use them and interact with people with good social skills. This is the role of a preschool teacher.

  1. Talks about emotions and their causes.
    1. "Little Critter is sad. I think he's sad because he lost his baseball mitt... I'm sad too when I lose something special. What makes you feel sad? How can we feel better when we're sad?"
  2. Acknowledges students' emotions.
    1. "Sweetie, you look mad. I think you're mad because your hands in fists and your face is scrunched. I want to help. Can you tell my why you are feeling mad?"
  3. Plays with students during playtime.
    1. This is so that the teacher can actually help students develop their social-emotional skills! Teachers are a coach in this situation, not a passive babysitter.
  4. Lots of playtime. #here'swhy
  5. Teaches students how to calm down.
    1. Co-regulation. Students needs someone to teach them positive and effective ways to regulate their emotions.
    2. TBRI: Trust-Based Relational Intervention is the something I'd love to see more preschool teachers implement.
  6. Gives students opportunities to interact during instructional time.
    1. Peer interactions = Opportunities to practice social skills.
  7. Uses playfulness & fun to encourage students to cooperate.
    1. This is a strategy in TBRI and is so much better than using fear-tactics to force compliance.
  8. Has predictable routines.
    1. Predictable = Safe.
    2. Safe = Brain is ready to learn.
  9. Preps students for changes and transitions.
    1. This helps students learn to regulate themselves.
  10. Stays calm during classroom chaos. #respect #teachergoals

Confession, I'm a preschool teacher and I'm not perfect at doing all of these things all of the time. My goal is that I am on my A game 100% of the time but realistically 80% will make a positive difference.

So while you look for these signs of social-development, give some benefit of the doubt for preschool teachers. We really are trying our best! And don't forget that you can do these things at home too to develop your child's social skills.

Wanna know more about social skills? Check out these posts.

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