How can social emotional learning support language and communication development in early childhood?
Language and communication development are essential parts of a child’s overall growth and can have a significant impact on their academic, social, and emotional outcomes. However, not all children have the same opportunities or experiences in their homes or communities, which may affect their language and communication skills. This is where social emotional learning (SEL) comes into play. SEL programs can support early childhood language and communication development by providing children with positive developmental experiences and skills that will help them better express their thoughts, feelings, and ideas.
Understanding Social Emotional Learning
Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is an approach that seeks to help children develop the critical social-emotional skills they need to thrive in their personal, academic, and professional lives. These skills include self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. Early exposure to SEL can confer important benefits that will remain with the child throughout their life.
SEL programs help children acquire these social-emotional skills through various techniques, including cooperative play, age-appropriate communication strategies, mindfulness, and problem-solving activities. While SEL is more common in urban areas, there is a consistent push towards implementing these programs across all communities, so no child is left behind.
How SEL Supports Language and Communication Development
SEL can help children acquire the core language and communication skills that they need for long-term success. Here are a few ways that SEL supports language and communication development in early childhood:
1. Help Children Put their Emotions into Words
Many young children have difficulties articulating their thoughts and feelings, even when they want to share what they’re experiencing. SEL programs offer children strategies to express their emotions, help them identify their emotions, label them, and express them in a socially acceptable way.
2. Promotes Overall Confidence and Self-Esteem
Through these programs, children learn that it’s okay to express themselves and that their thoughts and emotions are valuable. By doing so, SEL fosters confidence in children, helping them develop self-esteem crucial to self-expression.
3. Teaches Active Listening
SEL programs teach children how to be active listeners by paying attention to other people when they’re talking. This skill involves listening without judgment and respecting the speaker’s views, feelings, and opinions. Active listening promotes communication in early childhood as children value and take other perspectives into account.
4. Encourages Social interaction
Social interaction is another essential component of SEL that can strengthen children’s language and communication skills. Children learn how to communicate with peers and adults through cooperative play and other activities, which can help them feel more confident in their speech and interaction skills. This skill provides children with opportunities to practice language, overcome language barriers and develop vocabulary.
5. Enhances Vocabulary
SEL programs teach children to be confident in their thought processes and equip them with language to express and share their experiences. By doing so, SEL promotes advanced vocabulary, allowing children to communicate orally and in writing more effectively. Through different activities, SEL encourages open conversation exchange, which children tend to conceptualise complex problems and solutions further enhancing their verbal or written communication and critical thinking skills.
6. Teaches Conflict Resolution
Conflicts among children are common, and SEL programs help children resolve conflicts in a socially acceptable way. Children learn how to identify when a conversation or disagreement is getting heated and will gain tools, i.e., taking a break or actively listening, which calms the situation down and promotes the use of language to express feelings and ideas effectively. Fostering these skills early on helps to reduce miscommunication and misunderstandings in the future, building positive relationships with peers and adults.
Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is a practical approach that supports early childhood language and communication development. SEL helps children develop essential social-emotional skills that instil a positive and confident attitude towards language use and communication, equipping them with strategies that provide them with an advantage in interacting with peers and adults. Through SEL, children learn how to put their emotions into adequate language, promotes listening skills, allows them to interact with others in socially acceptable ways, enhances their vocabulary and teaches conflict resolution. We need to embrace and incorporate SEL programs across all communities to ensure all children have the opportunity to develop strong language and communication skills that set them up for success.
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- • A study of 1,000 preschoolers found that those who participated in socialemotional learning activities had significantly higher language and communication skills than those who did not.
- • Another study found that children who participated in socialemotional learning activities had better communication skills, including being able to express their emotions more effectively and having better problemsolving skills.
- • A third study found that children who participated in socialemotional learning activities had better language development, including increased vocabulary and improved grammar.
- • A fourth study found that children who participated in socialemotional learning activities had improved communication skills, including increased ability to understand nonverbal cues, increased ability to understand others’ perspectives, and improved ability to resolve conflicts.