targeted interventions and supports

Social Emotional Development: Foundational Practices

Creating an environment that helps children feel connected and safe

The way in which routines, materials, and activities are organized in a learning environment provides multiple opportunities for children to play and learn together and to relate positively to adults. For example, it is important to make sure that sufficient toys and materials are available in various interest centers to avoid conflicts and to promote cooperation in play.

Video 7.8: Promoting opportunities to connect to others

This video shows examples of classroom environments and how they are organized and arranged to help children feel connected and safe (running time: 2 min. 20 sec.).

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To have positive social relationships children need to use many different skills such as communicating, showing emotions appropriately, and controlling their own behavior. Having positive social relationships also requires young children to follow rules for how to interact, such as waiting for one’s turn, or sharing. What this outcome means depends on the child’s age. As preschoolers, children interact with other children in many situations. They learn to get along with one another, follow informal rules on the playground, and formal rules in their classrooms. They use their expanding communication skills to express their feelings and to resolve conflicts. Being able to get along with others as a four year old has its foundation in interactions that children have when they are babies. For infants, positive social relationships means calming to the touch of a familiar adult, smiling and turning towards a parent’s voice, taking turns in sound play, and games such as peek-a-boo. Toddlers are beginning to show awareness of others’ feelings, they may check in with a familiar adult when they are playing, and they show interest in the play of other children. They show an emerging awareness of what is expected of them when they are around others and they are learning about give and take.

Video 7.9: Creating an environment

This video shows an example of a classroom environment and how it is organized and arranged to help children feel connected and safe (running time: 1 min. 59 sec.).

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Children playing, talking, classroom noises