Social and Emotional Development: What's it all about?
Monitoring your preschool child’s physical development is easy as they grow taller, bigger, and stronger. However, measuring your child’s social and emotional development is not always as easy.
As your child’s first teacher, you can watch and monitor whether they are developing skills appropriate for a three- to four-year-old. Here are some milestones to help you understand what your child should be doing and learning.
Social and Emotional Developmental Milestones
Three years old:
- Copies adults and friends
- Shows affection for friends without prompting
- Shows wide range of emotions
- Shares toys: takes turns with help
Four years old:
- Enjoys doing new things
- More creative with make believe play
- Initiates or joins in play with other children; makes up games
- Notices the moods and/or feelings of others
- Would rather play with other children than play alone
Five years old:
- Wants to be like friends
- Likes to sing, dance, and act
- Is sometimes demanding and cooperative
- Can tell the difference between real and make-believe
- Expresses anger with words rather than acting out physically
Encouraging social and emotional development at home
As you begin to understand some of the social and emotional skills your child is developing, Anoka-Hennepin Preschool team suggests ways to reinforce those skills.
- As you read books to your child, ask how the character is feeling; how do you know; why do they feel that way?
- Play games to practice taking turns.
- Have play dates with peers that are the same age as your child, and support them when a conflict happens.
- Have your child participate in a group activity such as soccer, karate, or dance.
Promoting social and emotional growth at preschool
In our preschool classrooms, children work in an environment that may be more structured then they are used to: staff work with them to develop good behavior habits and cooperation. Our licensed teaching staff monitor a child’s social and emotional progress in a number of ways:
- Observing children as they play to note if a child plays next to peers, with one peer or with multiple peers.
- Throughout the day, child’s ability to solve social problems is observed.
- During story time, questions are asked about the character's feelings to see if children identify and understand them.
- Self-help assessments of child’s ability to take care of their own needs appropriately.
- Following a curriculum that supports the social and emotional development of children through modeling with puppets and social picture cards.
Cause for concern?
Keep in mind that social and emotional skills do not develop in exactly the same way or same time frame for all preschool-age children. If you have concerns, talk with your child’s pediatrician or preschool teacher.Stay connected and receive timely and topical parent resource information. Like us on Facebook or sign up for emails with parent resource information.