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What Is Social-Emotional Learning and Why Do Preschoolers Need It


What Is Social-Emotional Learning and Why Do Preschoolers Need It

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It's no secret that a child's social and emotional health affects their overall development and learning. Research suggests that mentally healthy children are happier, are better motivated to learn, and have a more positive attitude toward school in general. Conversely, many children who have difficulties both socially and emotionally tend to have trouble in school, as they struggle with following directions and participating in learning activities. Social-emotional learning is significant for a child's development, as it affects their capacity to develop and lead a fulfilling life.

Teachers can promote children's social and emotional health in a variety of ways, specifically by organizing an environment to stimulate social interactions among children. This article focuses on social-emotional learning and ways to help teachers build better environments on encouraging it.

Social-Emotional Learning Activities Preschools Should Incorporate

Let's dive into what social-emotional learning is so that teachers can learn to incorporate activities to promote healthy growth and development.

What Is Social-Emotional Learning?

Social-emotional learning can be defined as the process of learning healthy habits which help children manage their emotions, relate better to others, and make better decisions. These skills developed early on will help children practice healthier strategies in social and real-world contexts later on in life.

Preschool is an important time in these young children's lives, as they are not only learning shapes, colors, letters, and more - they are also learning about how to play and get along with others in a learning environment. Just as building academic skills takes time, and personal attention, so does social-emotional learning. Therefore, teachers should expect to spend time focusing on teaching these important skills and opportunities for practice. The two ways that the experts at suggest are by establishing trustworthy relationships that set a good example and reading and sharing books created for children.

Let's discuss these two things and why they are so important for young minds in a preschool environment.

Establish Trusting Relationships

Preschool-aged children learn best in the context of relationships. Having people in their lives, parents and teachers specifically, who are trusting and caring, is crucial for positive development. Children who have positive and trusting relationships with their teachers and care providers are more willing to ask questions, solve problems, try new things, and express their feelings than those children who don't have these relationships.

When students have teachers who teach them how to express themselves using their words, they are better equipped to communicate in the future. Additionally, teachers are crucial in showing children empathy so that they can show compassion to their peers. Children benefit on many levels when their caregivers intentionally create close relationships. Young children need to trust their teachers, and teachers need to set examples of being warm, affectionate, and respectful.

Children's Books

An excellent social-emotional learning strategy is to read and discuss children's books. Using children's books can help children identify with characters' emotions and relate their experiences to their own. Reading high-quality books aloud to a group of preschool students is a great way to bring up recent social and emotional behaviors in the classroom. For example, if students have a problem sharing, or there's been an outbreak of sad students, or whatever other issues they might be dealing with, there are books that teachers can read to help make better associations with those behaviors.

Teachers can connect characters and situations in the book with the children's specific experiences. They should then ask specific questions like, "What do you think the characters are feeling?" or "What do you think is the right way to solve this problem?"

Leaving open-ended questions and allowing time for everyone to answer can help the children talk about their own experiences, learn new words, and practice social and emotional skills. In addition, there are books about exclusion, judging people on their appearance, physical responses, and more, so teachers can find a list of books for every situation.

Though there are plenty of activities that help promote this type of social and emotional development, like singing, games, and interactive activities, reading books out loud to children is an excellent tool for teaching children how to behave and grow in a healthy way.


The best way to help a child's social and emotional health is for teachers and caregivers to establish trusting relationships that are warm, affectionate, and respectful. There are several ways to teach and enhance these skills intentionally. One of the best ways is by reading specific books that deal with personal situations students deal with on a regular basis. When teachers model and reinforce positive behaviors, they can enhance a child's early education. For more information on how to prioritize children's social and emotional health, head to They have tried and true tips to help teachers better teach their students to express their emotions in productive ways.

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