When enrolled in the average preschool, your child will learn the ABCs and other primary skills to help them get a good start on their reading and math skills. But there are other vital skills that educators now realize are every bit as important for young children as those basic learning processes.
Social emotional learning (SEL) is one of the most compelling new concepts being taught in preschool. Here's what you need to know to ensure your little one receives this valuable kind of teaching:
Definition of social emotional learning
SEL is a focus on acquiring life skills that will affect every aspect of a student's school years. Preschoolers are at an optimum age to be exposed to these concepts because they are eager to learn about the world, and they are forming the habits that will carry them through their entire educational experience.
Learning how to cope with others' feelings and behaviors, to work cooperatively, to form relationships and to work productively despite differences are all part of SEL. When a child understands their place in the classroom and how to work with a variety of personalities, these become vital tools that will enhance how your child deals with conflicts, frustration and other interpersonal issues as they move through their school years.
Supportive and nurturing environments for SEL
When students are nurtured and supported by their school staff, they have the best outcomes from their learning experiences. Their needs are met and their feelings are acknowledged. This helps young children learn empathy and concern for others by example.
When teachers are patient and kind, they model how to be patient and kind people. When they help your child learn about different emotions and teach them how to tell when someone is angry or sad, they help your child identify these emotions in others and themselves. They show students how they might help other students and themselves when they are disappointed, fearful or mad.
Extra activities to encourage SEL competence in preschool
A school that has a focus on SEL will encourage service projects and other community actions that show students how even very young people can make a difference.
Some preschoolers will take up a collection for disaster relief, or they may visit a nursing home and interact with the elderly. They may do fundraisers for local charities or make craft items to share with pediatric hospital patients.
These simple activities help preschoolers learn about the world around them. They encourage preschoolers to think outside of themselves to address the needs that others have. Good preschools will promote community outreach as an integral part of their SEL programs.
When you're comparing preschools, ask about their approach to SEL. Choose a school that sets a good foundation for your child's social and emotional intelligence as well as their academic smarts.