Importance of Social & Emotional Development

One of the ways we show respect for children is by enhancing their developmental opportunities. By investing in their development, we are signaling that we believe in them and see them as capable and competent. It is tempting to focus on easily recognized academic skills, but the importance of social and emotional development cannot be underestimated. The National Research Council has concluded that attitudes toward learning that children acquire during early childhood are inexplicably linked to their learning and success later in life.

 Social and Emotional Development for Learning 

In addition, a variety of research studies focusing on the perceptions of kindergarten teachers, report that positive social and emotional skills at kindergarten entry are as important to school success as specific academic skills.


In these studies, kindergarten teachers emphasize the importance of: 


  • the ability to follow directions 
  • sensitivity to others 
  • turn taking 
  • non-disruptive classroom behavior 


Other social and emotional abilities often linked to school success include: 

  • persistence 
  • active or focused participation 
  • independence 
  • appropriate risk taking 
  • self-regulation 

Research indicates that children who frequently exhibit these skills are likely to be those who take responsibility for their own learning and show high levels of interest and ownership in learning.


What To Look For in Teachers

There is a great deal teachers can do to help support children's developing social and emotional capabilities. Take an active part in your child's early childhood education to ensure that their child care provider will:


  • Implement games and activities that practice cooperation and turn taking  
  • Encourage children to work on activities that are challenging and require time to perfect  
  • Notice and praise behaviors that show sensitivity for others  
  • Use guidance techniques to diminish disruptive behaviors as they occur  
  • Help children live up to high expectations by clearly stating rules and directions and reinforcing them as needed  
  • Show patience as children practice and perfect social skills slowly over time  
  • Model the positive social and emotional skills they desire children to exhibit 
Learning and social development are closely linked. To learn more about how our teachers foster social and emotional development contact your local center director.