Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) is an area of childhood development where young kids grasp how to interact with others. They also learn (consciously and subconsciously) about various emotions, and how to control them and respond to them. While the SEL development process begins at birth, preschoolers attending our daycare in Rockville, MD benefit from an environment that also helps develop their various social and emotional aspects. By focusing on all developmental areas, the Creative Curriculum® targets developing the “whole child”.
SEL-101: Understand the Basics
It’s important for parents and home-caregivers, as well as newcomers to early childhood education and the child care profession, to understand what SEL involves. One very popular[i] SEL framework suggests the following five core competencies for any successful SEL program:
Though some parents and untrained adults might not realize it, but simple gestures – such as a child offering a fellow-preschooler their crayon, or willingly sharing a lunch cookie with a classmate – help advance a child’s SEL. Even though these actions may be taken for granted (e.g., written off as the child is just being “nice” or is being “thoughtful”), they are a critical step towards greater SEL in preschoolers. The professional staff at our Rockville daycare centers knows the importance of guiding preschoolers in understanding and developing these SEL competencies.
Why SEL Matters
Like any form of learning, exposing preschoolers to SEL offers both short and long-term benefits. The advantage that SEL delivers doesn’t just accrue to the child who develops their SEL capabilities, but also to parents, teachers, preschool peers, and broader society. Some of the more prominent SEL benefits include:
For parents, preschool teachers and childhood education associates, focus on SEL also results in better longer-term academic and socio-economic performance. According to the American Journal of Public Health (AJPH), students who have a slight advantage in SEL competence prior to entering preschool (i.e., at KG-level), enjoy significant advantages later in their academic and professional lives, including:
Educators, and mainly parents and adults responsible for a child’s home-care, must therefore continue to build upon SEL achievements during preschool – and beyond. Doing so will likely position preschoolers to enjoy even greater academic, professional, financial, and social success. The professional staff at our daycare in Rockville, MD are experienced at improving the SEL competency levels of the kids in their care. The question however is, what can parents do to accelerate the SEL of their preschoolers?
Home-based SEL Activities to Consider
While socio-emotional learning happens more rigorously in structured environments, such as in kindergartens, day care environments and in other preschool settings, it shouldn’t stop there! SEL can, and should, continue beyond formal learning settings, and the most obvious environment for it to flourish and grow is at home.
Here are some home-based activities and routines that parents can embrace to continue moving their child’s SEL growth trajectory:
These home-based activities will go a long way in helping build upon the SEL base that the staff at our Rockville daycare center have started to establish. However, there’s nothing more powerful in a parents SEL-toolbox than “leading by example”. For instance, social consciousness, empathy, and a sense of caring and understanding for the community isn’t something that kids learn by watching TV or simulating in games. Yet, participation in these actions, and cultivating these values can give preschoolers a tremendous SEL boost. And that’s where parental example can help.
Why not volunteer your time within your local community? It can be something as simple as packing supplies in boxes for the homeless. Or it can be as involved as writing notes of encouragement to sick children, or reading to children at the neighborhood community center or library. Whatever it is, make your preschooler a part of the activity. Perhaps, get them to address the envelopes of the notes that you write. Or maybe you can pick the supplies, and they can help with packing them in boxes. Maybe even get them to help with the reading activities.
When a parent leads by example, it helps preschoolers appreciate the power that SEL has in the real world. But it also gives them the motivation to grow their own social and emotional learning prowess beyond what they see, learn, and practice at our daycare in Rockville MD.
MCCA has been recognized by the Maryland State Legislature for its commitment to Montgomery County issued a quality programs and special needs child care Proclamation in 2016 to MCCA for its commitment to Montgomery County child care for more than 50 years. MCCA was also selected as a 2018 nonprofit finalist for a MOXIE Award for boldness and innovation
MCCA is the oldest nonprofit licensed child care provider in Montgomery County and started its work in 1968 as a Community Action Project of the War on Poverty. Recognizing the need for quality child care programs in their neighborhoods, a group of local activists formed an association to establish centers in Montgomery County that would serve a diverse population and establish high standards for child care. Now, more than 50 years later, MCCA’s dedicated and expertly trained staff continue their tradition of providing high quality child care and play-based education for children.
Families with school aged children who can afford their child care expenses during the school year often struggle to afford the all-day programs they need when school is out for the summer. The Richard Krampf Summer Adventures Scholarship Fund was established to help provide children a safe and stimulating place to spend their weeks when school is out. Please contact an MCCA Director for details on how to apply.