Social and Emotional Learning

Early childhood settings

During early childhood, the foundations for social, emotional and spiritual wellbeing are laid. Children’s social and emotional learning is influenced by all their experiences within and outside of their early childhood settings. To foster children’s social and emotional learning, it is essential that educators form strong attachments and provide warm, trusting relationships, predictable and safe environments, affirmation and respect for all aspects of children’s physical, emotional, social, cognitive, linguistic, creative and spiritual being.

How can early childhood education and care settings implement effective social and emotional learning?

From birth, secure attachments formed through warm and respectful relationships with familiar adults are fundamental to all of children’s learning and development, including their social and emotional learning.

These relationships protect, regulate and buffer children. They provide a secure base that help children to feel safe and confident to try new things and to learn, and build resilience in children to help them cope with daily challenges and stressors.

Early childhood professionals foster children’s social and emotional learning by:

  • building trusting relationships which foster strong attachments
  • prioritising relationships which focus on nurturing and offering consistent emotional supports 
  • initiating warm, reciprocal relationships with children
  • providing safe and stimulating environments for children
  • respect the views and feelings of each child
  • show genuine affection, understanding and respect for all children
  • talk with children about their emotions and responses to events with a view to supporting their understandings of emotional regulation and self-control
  • ensure that all children experience pride in their attempts and achievements
  • build upon culturally valued child rearing practices and approaches to learning
  • are emotionally available and support children’s expression of their thoughts and feelings
  • recognise that feelings of distress, fear or  discomfort may take some time to resolve
  • acknowledge each child’s uniqueness in positive ways
  • actively support the maintenance of home language and culture
  • model care, empathy and respect for children, staff and families

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