So often we as dedicated parents and teachers spend much time and energy assessing our young children’s cognitive abilities. Their “academic” skills often take precedence over other areas of development in gaining adult praise and attention.
As we look at our “high tech” contemporary world, what comes to mind is how often little priority is given to a child’s social-emotional development. Lillian Katz, a renown early childhood educator states, “Time has come to shift our educational discourse from the traditional 3R’s (reading, writing and arithmetic) to the 4R’s – the first of which should be RELATIONSHIPS.”
The foundation of social competency involves a complex interplay of feelings, thought and skills. This foundation is laid by parents, teachers, caregivers and other adults in the early years of development. Research shows that children who fail to achieve minimal social competence during the early years are AT RISK for developing academic failure, delinquency and mental health problems. Important components of social competency include social skills, social understanding, social knowledge and emotional regulation. It is our challenging task to teach the awareness and skills necessary through everyday lessons to be “emotionally and socially healthy” children and ultimately adults! Modeling, coaching, and providing opportunities to practice these social skills and understanding is key.
*Developing a positive self-identity
*Developing feelings of competence
*Recognizing and labeling emotions
*Developing a sense of community
*Engaging in cooperative play
*Developing a framework of moral behavior
*Engaging in conflict resolution
*Creating and following rules
*Creating and participating in democracy
What is really important in the realm of personal-social development of young children is the child’s capacity to form intimate, caring, reciprocal relationships with adults and peers.