Social-emotional health plays critical role in school readiness

As parents and caregivers take steps to ensure their child’s level of school-readiness, MSU Extension urges them to also take into account their child’s level of social-emotional well-being.

It is just as or even more important for your child to get along with peers than to know thier ABC's and 123's. Photo credit: Pixabay.

It is just as or even more important for your child to get along with peers than to know thier ABC's and 123's. Photo credit: Pixabay.

As parents and caregivers, we do our best to make sure our children are ready to succeed in school. We all know that we should be teaching them all kinds of things before they hit the school door in order for them to be ready to learn, and often, we concentrate our efforts on school readiness, shapes and colors, counting to ten and writing their names. However, Michigan State University Extension holds that social-emotional skills are just as essential in order for them to be ready to learn.

Social-emotional heath includes the ability to form close relationships with other people, especially parents and familiar caregivers. This will include seeking and responding to attention, enjoys interaction with others and the ability to make and keep friends. Another skill is the ability to express and manage emotions, demonstrated when a child smiles when happy, cries when sad or can express how she feels. Social-emotional health also includes a child being able to seek out a parent or caregiver when he’s scared or unsure, and being able to calm down when he’s upset without hurting himself or others. Lastly, social-emotional health includes the ability to explore new environments. You will see children’s willingness to discover new things, actively explore new places and be curious about the people and things around them.

Many teachers will tell you that it is just as or even more important for your child to be able to follow directions and get along with their peers than to know their ABC’s and 123’s. Your child will do well in school if he is able to get along with others, make friends, share and take turns, ask for what she needs, communicate feelings and care about how others feel. A child’s ability to do these things will allow him to pay attention to his teacher, follow simple directions, solve problems and try new things. Children who have good social-emotional skills are better equipped to follow directions and finish tasks, allowing them to have positive experiences in the classroom. They are eager to learn and adjust to school more easily. They are also more likely to become confident and secure in their abilities, which will serve to nurture good self-esteem. This confidence and self-esteem will continue to grow with them as they age.

For more information on social-emotional wellbeing and direction on how to achieve it in regards to school-readiness, see the WestEd Center for Prevention and Early Intervention’s resource, “Social and Emotional Well-being: The Foundation for School Readiness.”

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