Welcome to our Kindergarten Readiness blog series, a 5-part series that covers the most important kindergarten readiness topics. This week’s topic is all about Social Emotional Readiness for Kindergarten.
We are a participant in the amazon services llc associates program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to amazon.com and affiliated sites. This post contains affiliate links. Click HERE to read our full disclosure.
KINDERGARTEN READINESS TOPICS
Check out the other topics in this Kindergarten Readiness blog series:
- Kindergarten Readiness Overview
- Language & Literacy
- Social Emotional (You are here)
- Approaches to Learning
- Parent Readiness
You can also check out my Kindergarten Readiness eBook for a printable version of this information.
KINDERGARTEN READINESS: SOCIAL EMOTIONAL
“Social emotional development is the core of early care and education because it sets a firm foundation on which all other learning will take place.” -Arizona Early Learning Standards
The social emotional development of our little ones is KEY to them finding success in kindergarten and beyond.
Have you heard the saying, “A rising tide lifts all boats?”
That’s how I think of social emotional development!
When we focus on this area, it helps lift all the other areas (including academic areas) for our little ones.
These skills are powerful and will have a lasting impact on our little ones’ success and happiness well into adulthood.
But in order to determine which skills our little ones need at the beginning of kindergarten, we first need to look at which skills they need when they leave pre-k.
Check out this post to see all of the goals little ones should accomplish before leaving pre-k.
There are many Social Emotional goals for our pre-k students, but I like to think about them in two ways:
- Self-Awareness & Emotional Skills
- Knowing yourself
- Relationships & Social Skills
- Knowing & relating to others
I’ll briefly explain each category and share tips for how you can work on these skills with your little one.
But before we get started, I just wanted to remind you that THESE are the skills that kindergarten teachers want their incoming students to have.
Academics have their place, and I do believe you should work with your little one on math & literacy skills.
But if you want the most bang for your buck, I’d recommend focusing on social emotional skills before they enter kindergarten.
1. SELF AWARENESS & EMOTIONAL SKILLS
We want our preschoolers to develop a sense of personal identity so they can see what makes them unique, build self-esteem, and demonstrate self-confidence.
The pre-k exit goals related to self-awareness & emotional skills include:
- Demonstrates self-confidence
- Makes personal preferences knowns to others
- Demonstrates knowledge of self-identify/autonomy
- Understands similarities & differences between self & others
- Demonstrates cultural curiosity and responsiveness
- Associates emotions with words, facial expressions, & body language
- Identifies, describes, & expresses own feelings
- Identifies & describes feelings of others
- Expresses feelings of satisfaction in independent activities
- Expresses empathy for others
- Understands & follows expectations in the learning environment
- Adjusts behaviors & adapts to transitions, daily routines, & unexpected events
- Chooses appropriate words & actions
Here are some ways you can build your preschooler’s self-awareness & emotional skills:
- Encourage kids to use their strengths.
- If your little one loves art, help them cultivate that skill. If they are really into gymnastics, encourage them to continue improving.
- Encourage a growth mindset & talk about the power of “yet.”
- “I can’t do that yet, but I’m going to keep practicing.”
- Praise your little one’s effort, not the outcome.
- “I’m so impressed with how hard you worked on that picture” instead of “You’re a great artist.”
- Help your little one compliment themselves.
- At the end of each of my classes, I have my students say, “I am kind. I am a hard worker. There’s no one better to be than me.” I want them to hear that as their inner voice!
- Try new things together.
- Show them that you’re still learning, too! Encourage them to get out of their comfort zone by getting out of YOUR comfort zone.
- Explicitly teach about emotions and encourage your preschooler to check in with their own emotions throughout the day.
- My Monthly Learning Binders all have an emotional component so kids can track their emotions during the month and learn new emotion vocabulary words.
2. RELATIONSHIPS & SOCIAL SKILLS
We also want our preschoolers to feel safe & secure as they enter kindergarten, and positive social relationships will lead to these secure attachments. This will support them in moving into deeper and more complex learning.
The pre-k exit goals related to relationships & social skills include:
- Expresses interest, curiosity, & trust with familiar adults (and seeks their support)
- Separates from familiar adults with minimal distress
- Responds when adults & other kids initiate interactions
- Initiates & sustains positive interactions with adults & kids & resolves conflicts
- Respects the rights & property of others
- Defends own rights & property
- Shows respect for materials
Here are some ways you can build your preschooler’s relationship & social skills:
- Ask lots of questions.
- These should be open-ended questions, so it gives your little one a chance to share their opinions and ideas.
- Practice role playing.
- Pretend play is amazing for younger AND older kids! This is especially helpful when working through challenging friendship issues or anxiety about going to kindergarten.
- Help kids become more empathetic.
- Talk about different situations and ask how the other people might be feeling when those things happen. It’s also important to encourage active listening to really hear what the other person is saying.
- Explain the difference between “sharing” and “taking turns.”
- Sharing = each person getting some of the item (ex: sharing a snack)
- Taking Turns = each person gets a turn with the item (ex: taking turns with a ball)
- Using the correct language is so helpful so our little ones clearly understand our expectations.
- Give your child a chance to cooperate with you (or others).
- When your child gets a chance to work together with someone else to achieve a common goal, it helps them learn to get along with others.
- Be a good role model.
- If you don’t want your child to be demanding of their friends, then watch how much you’re demanding of your child. If you don’t want them to bark orders at others, watch how much you’re barking orders at them.
- How you interact with your child is how they’ll interact with their friends and peers!
And don’t forget…our preschoolers aren’t expected to have these skills mastered on day 1 of kindergarten.
It’s not like they leave preschool and we think, “Well, that’s it. Hopefully they mastered those social emotional skills. Otherwise they’re in trouble.”
Of course not!
These are LIFELONG skills they’ll be working on developing for many many years (I know some adults who still need to develop in these areas, and I bet you do, too!)
Our kindergarten teachers will continue working on these skills with our kids throughout their first year of school, so there’s no need to panic if you think your little one is “behind.”
This is just a starting point to remind you that these skills & activities deserve our time & attention just as much as academics.
Remember, it’s not an “either-or” situation with social emotional skills & academics. It’s an AND situation.
Our kids need both, and we can help them develop BOTH for their whole lives!
If you’re looking for more strategies & ideas on how to parent in a way that leads to your child developing strong social emotional skills, I recommend the following books:
- No-Drama Discipline
- The Whole Brain Child
- How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk
- Siblings Without Rivalry
I also love learning from Dr. Becky, both through her website and her podcast.
KINDERGARTEN READINESS E-BOOK
Would you rather have this information as a PDF download so you don’t have to navigate to all the different pages on my website? Check out my Kindergarten Readiness eBook and save yourself time!
You can also watch a video overview of this eBook on my YouTube channel.
If these social emotional kindergarten readiness tips are helpful to you, let me know! You can comment below or find me on Instagram (@littleslovelearningblog).
love this post? pin it for later!