Supporting Personal, Social and Emotional Development at School

emotional development
Personal, social and emotional development (PSED) is possibly the most important of the prime areas of learning.

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Personal, social and emotional development (PSED) is possibly the most important of the prime areas of learning. This is the age at which children learn the skills they need to become actively involved in the world around them.

  • Personal Development is about how children come to understand who they are and what they can do.
  • Social Development covers how children come to understand themselves in relation to others, how they make friends, understand the rules of society and behave towards others.
  • Emotional Development concerns how children understand their own and others’ feelings and develop their ability to be empathetic – to see things from another person’s point of view.

The Importance of Relationships

Relationships lie at the heart of all human experience and interaction, and it is vitally important that young children are helped to learn the social skills needed to interact successfully with other people and to form good relationships. 

Children who have the skills to interact well with other people and form positive relationships can tap into a huge resource to support their learning. Socio-constructivist theories of learning and development, such as those of Vygotsky, place an emphasis on learning to be a social experience where the individual learns from others who are more experienced than themselves – both children and adults. 

Young children also need lots of opportunities and encouragement to begin to look at the world from the perspective of others and to develop empathy –  which is not also easy for some children to understand. 

Helping Children to Manage Feelings & Behaviour

For practitioners, supporting young children to manage their feelings and behaviour involves helping them to:

  • Develop social skills and learn how to manage their feelings. 
  • Understand appropriate behaviour in groups.

Children need support from others – parents, carers, family members and teachers to regulate their feelings. This support, consistently given, helps them to understand basic emotions, begin to control their impulses and learn how to manage and display their feelings appropriately. 

Children need to feel comfortable, both emotionally and physically, to allow them to learn effectively. Helping children to learn how to regulate and manage their feelings is, therefore, a vital stepping-stone for success in learning and life. 

Nuturing Children's Self-Confidence & Self-Awareness

For practitioners, supporting young children to grow in self-confidence and self-awareness involves providing opportunities for them to:

  • Develop a positive sense of themselves and others. 
  • Have confidence in their own abilities.

During their early years, young children build their understanding of themselves as individuals, which increases their confidence to engage with the people, objects and experiences in the world around them.

Children grow in self-confidence and self-awareness; they extend their horizons and begin to see that what they do can make a difference. This ability to proactively engage with the world underpins all other aspects of a young child’s learning. 

Ideas to Use

Understanding the different schemas displayed by children when interacting with the world around them enable you to focus on individual interests and preferred ways of learning.

Providing open-ended resources that can be used in a variety of ways will encourage toddlers to try out ideas and build their sense of achievement. 

  • The resources could include boxes, tubes, blocks, bags, small baskets, rings, wooden pegs, short lengths of chains, pine cones, pebbles, shells, fabrics, paper and card.

Children are beginning to develop a wide range of physical skills: to help boos their independence and self-esteem by giving them time to manage complex tasks such as putting on a pair of socks or shoes or fastening a coat. This may take an inordinate length of time and may not always be entirely successful but, remember that it is the learning process that is important, not the end result!

Keep In Mind

It becomes obvious at this age that children are growing more independent and have a growing interest in friends. 

Healthy friendships are very important to children’s social development, but peer pressure can start to become a concern. Children who feel good about themselves can fend off negative peer pressure and make better choices. 

As their number of friends increases, social conflicts can arise. Parents/Teachers should remind children about their daily activities, so they can be aware of any trouble a child might be having. 

What Can Parents Do?

These activities and suggestions can help children at this stage in their social and emotional development:

  • Encourage your child to join school and community groups, such as a sports team, or to take advantage of volunteer opportunities. 
  • Talk to your child about peer pressure, discuss any concerns about friends and discuss any concerns about friends and their behaviours 
  • Help your child set their own achievable goals, which will help them develop pride and become more independent in completing household tasks and schoolwork.
  • Talk with your child about respecting others and helping others, thereby developing a sense of empathy and understanding. 
  • Encourage your child to think about the possible consequences of actions.
  • Always praise your child about what to do when others are disrespectful or unkind. 
  • Be affectionate and honest with your child, and do activities as a family.

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