Emotional and Social Development for Preschoolers in Child Care

Emotional and Social Development for Preschoolers in Child Care

Emotional and Social Development for Preschoolers in Child Care

I recently visited a number of schools in around Gympie and after a number of discussions with Principles and prep school teachers a common thread was starting to appear. The children starting school for the first time were really struggling in regards of their emotional development and social skills. This makes the transition to big school difficult for the children and also challenging for the teachers.

These two areas of early childhood are a major focus for Parkside Early Learning Centre and it’s families. Through the larger social setting of a child care centre and surrounded by caring and skilled educators our children are able to develop those skills more quickly and make a more successful transition into school.

Social & Emotional Development

Birth to school age is the period of greatest growth and development. The early childhood years are not only a time for taking first steps or for saying first words. They are also when, through their relationships with others formed in a child care centre environment, children are building expectations about their world and the people in it and are developing their first.

  • sense of self including feeling good about themselves and what they can do
  • social skills to get along in life with others
  • emotional skills such as recognising, expressing and managing a wide range of feelings.

These first skills are very important as they form the foundations for children’s ongoing development and affect their mental health and wellbeing, now and into the future. All skills that can develop significantly in a child care centre environment.

Babies are natural communicators and are able to experience and express a wide range of emotions. Through their many positive interactions with child care workers, they learn to feel good about themselves and enjoy relating with others. They learn from an early age how to manage a range of feelings and to communicate effectively to get their needs met. As babies grow into toddlers and later preschoolers, they can manage more things by themselves but still need guidance and support from their caregivers. Toddlers want to please adults and also to be themselves. They do this by imitating others and build their self confidence by ‘helping’ during everyday experiences such as cooking, cleaning, and shopping.

It is very important to have positive role models in a child care centre environment and also at home. This is because the children adapt their behaviour according to their child care workers responses and are learning ways to cope with conflict and to solve problems through their relationships with significant adults in their lives.

Kindergarten aged children develop their social and emotional skills through a wide network of social relationships including other adults and children. Supported by their increased language, thinking and planning capabilities, Kindergarten child are more able to wait for things they want, to negotiate solutions to everyday problems and make decisions for themselves and with others.

What Parkside Early Learning Centre Does

  • Building relationships with families so that children feel safe, secure, and comfortable with early childhood staff ›
  • Getting to know each child ›
  • Being warm and responsive with children ›
  • Arranging developmentally appropriate experiences that promote social and emotional development (e.g., helping toddlers to begin taking turns and sharing) ›
  • Having conversations and storytelling with children about emotions and social situations
  • Talking with children about events, their feelings and the feelings of others and how they relate to behaviours

What Families Can Do

  • Being affectionate and warm
  • Providing security for children by being consistent and predictable
  • Having frequent face-to-face interactions, including making eye contact, smiling and laughing together
  • Responding to your child’s signals and preferences (e.g., knowing when to stop playing when your baby turns away signalling they have had enough for now)
  • Talking with children about what is happening and what will happen next
  • Being comforting and helping children to manage their feelings
  • Encouraging children to explore, play and try new things
  • Using social and emotional skills yourself and showing children how they work (e.g., by talking with children about your own mistakes, saying sorry and trying to make things better for the child you show them that these are a part of life and can be learning opportunities for everyone)
  • Describing and labelling emotions (e.g., ‘I enjoyed doing the puzzle together with you. It was fun!’ or ‘Are you feeling sad today because your friend is not here?’)
  • Storytelling, playing games, singing, dancing, and imaginary play
  • Supporting children to make choices and solve problems as appropriate for their developmental level (e.g., ‘Do you want to wear your red dress or your blue dress?’)
  • Providing opportunities for interactions with others (e.g., going to play groups with other children, inviting a child to your home for a play, going to the park where there are other children playing)


Gympie, childcare, early childhood, daycare, child care

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