Ask the Child Care Health Team - Social and emotional development
Dear Child Care Team,
I just started working with a group of pre-schoolers who will remain in childcare for one more year before starting kindergarten. My early childhood education professors taught me that supporting children’s social and emotional development is the most important thing I can do to prepare them for success in school. However, some of the parents, as well as other teachers, want me to use worksheets and workbooks so that the class resembles kindergarten. Are they correct? What should I do? I want the children to succeed!
The Child Care Team is delighted that you value what your professors taught you in school. Creating an early childhood environment that allows children to learn to get along with others, to learn empathy and respect for others, and to learn problem-solving skills is important for future success in school. Children who develop social skills, who recognize their own feelings, build self-esteem and are supported as they face challenges with their self-control will arrive at kindergarten with the skills kindergarten teachers have identified as essential for success.
Parents are concerned about their child’s school performance and may measure "knowledge" in terms of paper and pencil, letters and numbers. It may help to try to educate parents about the importance of social emotional skills by providing information about what children need to know and how to help them learn, perhaps in a newsletter, handouts, or in individual parent meetings.
Additionally READ and TALK with the children in your care. Start early by allowing infants to "chew" on and handle soft books while you read to them. Practice interactive reading techniques with young children, e.g. encourage pretend play. Parents (and other teachers) will see that learning the ABC’s is integrated into your program, along with critical emotional growth and development. Being ready to learn is the most important goal for each child and a great pre-school classroom can make that happen.
- Child Care Health Team