Focusing on Social and Emotional Needs – 6 Programs Begin the New School Year
While a focus on health is essential in the COVID-19 era, equally important is attention to social and emotional needs. As educators respond to developing guidance from the CDC, local and state health agencies, about best practices for implementing new health and safety practices, it’s also important to consider the social and emotional needs of young children who are experiencing many shifts in their early childhood settings. Many children have spent the past few months indoors, with little peer to peer stimulation. They miss being with friends and teachers and need plenty of time and opportunities to connect and reconnect in playful ways.
We know that learning is most effective when it is based on healthy, supportive relationships between children and the adults who care for them. As child development programs reopen or begin virtual interactions, teachers and families will need to make enhanced, intentional, targeted efforts to ensure those relationships are meaningful and individualized to respond to each child’s specific needs.
Family engagement has always been a key element in supporting young children’s development and learning and adapting family engagement practices to families’ current shifting needs is also critically important. Families are experiencing stress and anxiety about their own well-being as well as that of their children. Many families were already concerned about their child’s health and well-being in a group setting and now their fears have only grown. As it is for their children, reciprocal relationships are important in the best of times and even more important now.
The NAEYC book, Families & Educators Together, Building Great Relationships that Support Young Children, highlights the family engagement practices of several educators from a variety of programs. We reached out to these and other contributors to ask what they have been doing and plan to do to support child and family social and emotional health as they either re-open for in person care or offer virtual services.
6 Programs Begin the New School Year
Derry Koralek is president of DGK & Company, providing early childhood educational consulting to a variety of clients, including teachers and family child care providers. Previously, she served as editor in chief of Young Children and Teaching Young Children and also as Chief Publishing Officer at NAEYC.