The Importance of Social-Emotional Learning for Young Children

As parents and educators, we help our children learn the alphabet, colors, and numbers. We should also ensure that we help them learn social skills such as empathy, coping, and self-reliance. It is important to recognize that social emotional learning is just as vital to healthy development as motor and cognitive skills are. 

The earlier we are able to give children the self-help skills to succeed, the more likely they will be on a path to social and emotional and overall success. 

As parents and educators, there are many things we can do to help our children develop strong social emotional skills. 

  • Help children identify and express their feelings, emotions, needs and wants appropriately. Children can and do have big feelings and need to learn to label and express these feelings. 
  • Provide them with the language they need. If your child is throwing a tantrum because they cannot have an ice cream sundae for breakfast, you acknowledge their disappointment by naming their feeling, without condoning it. “I know you are disappointed. Wouldn’t it be great if we could have that for breakfast? I’d eat 2 of them! Let’s make a plan to have sundaes for dinner soon.”

Other ways that you can help your child develop social and emotional skills are:

  •  Label and let your child know how their actions make others feel. “‘When you called your sister names, she felt sad and her feelings were hurt.” This will help your child be mindful of what they say and do to others.” Chambers, Yanique S. “9 Ways To Teach Children About Feelings.” Kiddie Matters, 2016, 
  •  Lead by example and appropriately express your own feelings and emotions.
  •  Teach self-help skills such as deep breathing for anger/fear/anxiety etc.
  •  When reading together, ask your child to describe the way the character in the book is feeling. Help them learn to read expressions and situations in pictures.
  •  Read books about feelings. Some of my favorites are 

At the Sharon Cooperative and Cooperative Nature Schools, we strive to help our young children learn all the varied skills they will need to succeed. 

The schools’ child-driven curriculum gives a unique opportunity to incorporate social and emotional skill development along with cognitive and motor development in an environment where the children’s days and activities are crafted and based upon their unique individual interests and needs. 

Additionally, the strong home-school partnership within a Cooperative School setting allows for more consistency and communication between home and school. With a dedicated and communicating team of supporters and educators, each child has a better opportunity to have a strong foundation for current and future learning and social emotional success. 

Rachel Chirichiello, Lead Teacher, Sharon Cooperative School