A recent Study in the American Journal of Public Health demonstrates a link between social and emotional skills and success later in life. The study tracks 753 children from Kindergarten to their twenties over the course of 20 years. The results showed “statistically significant associations between measured social-emotional skills in kindergarten and key young adult outcomes across multiple domains of education, employment, criminal activity, substance use, and mental health.”
Interestingly, children who demonstrated social competence at an early age were:
- Twice as likely to attain a college degree
- 54 percent more likely to earn a high school diploma
- 46 percent more likely to have a full-time job in early adulthood
The study evaluated the children’s social and emotional skills by giving the teachers the list of specific criteria and asking them to evaluate them on a points basis. The criteria used in the study closely resembles the skills highlighted by The Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning as the emotional skills children need as they enter school:
- Capacity to develop good relationships with peers and adults
- Concentration and persistence on challenging tasks (grit)
- Ability to effectively communicate emotions
- Ability to listen to instructions and be attentive
- Ability to solve problems
Putting together a comprehensive program for your PreK or Kindergarten class that touches on all the social and emotional skills can be daunting. There are so many issues to address and so many ways to do it. Luckily there are some resources out there to help you.
In December, Edutopia published some simple strategies to help teachers improve the social skills of their students, based on the study. These are small things that you can do every day to help reinforce social and emotional learning that includes things like using circle time to express feelings, practicing listening, and learning to work with others.
This Social and Emotional Development Set uses music and movement to help children explore their personal identity, recognize and label their emotions and gain appreciation of the their abilities. Songs also promote cooperation and socially appropriate behavior. Additionally, children recognize other’s emotions and empathize with peers; they understand how to handle angry feelings in more positive ways. These CDs are bundled together to specifically address the social and emotional skills highlighted above to better prepare your children for future success.
We’ve also put together a Pinterest page with simple activities that you can do in your classroom to help reinforce these skills. Check it out here.
We’d love to hear from all of our teachers out there about how you teach social and emotional skills, how do you handle children that come in lacking these skills? Tell us all about it in the comments section below.