Understanding Emotions & Reactions of Preschool Children:
The Implications for Teaching
By: Roberta Saintil, Kara Peluso, Kimber Peluso, Jen Cogert, Erin Concelman & Lindsay Stanley
Preschool is the time where exploration of their environment is a child’s full time occupation. Children will use both their mind and body to learn in this stage of life. They learn with all their senses and their emotions. It can be a time of turbulence as children go from tantrums to using language to express their needs. Teachers working with preschoolers know that they are not only educating their students about numbers and colors, they are helping the children understand and react appropriately to his or her emotions. It is important to provide innovative learning activities to model and reinforce the development of controlling and recognizing feelings and emotions as well as to teach children to play cooperatively in their emerging social environment.
Age Levels and Emotional Displays
- Social Development- At this age children are more apt to play with one another, the child will take turns, help with little tasks that need to be done, and they are talkative!
- Emotional Development- Wants to explore more, has a good attitude (most of the time), and is not resistant to change. Child will express emotion in a chaotic tantrum, or substantial display if they are mad, and or upset. If the child is happy they will laugh, play, and giggle with extreme excitement.
- Social Development- Enjoys playing in groups, plays games such as tag, or hide and seek. Very social, and more cooperative! Child starts to become aware of the fact that their actions have consequences, if he or she acts out in an intolerable manner at the snack table, the teacher just might take away his or her “computer time.”
- Emotional Development- Children at this age might have more of a negative attitude, may not listen very well to commands, constantly testing boundaries, and they are confident in themselves
Did You Know?
- Social Development- They will hold back a crying-fit, and instead use their words to convey a message. However, at this stage there is more chance of unacceptable verbal actions, like name-calling. But for the most part enjoys playing games very much.
- Emotional Development- Age of five children are more conscious of their actions and expression of emotions. They will follow the rules, and are more self confident, will take on more responsibility
- Children start to become more self-aware at age 3! Through the acquirement of language, they begin using pronouns such as “I” and “me” and refer things as “mine.”
- Children at the age of 4 are very imaginative! Pretend play is seen more at this age; Girls will play "house" and boys will pretend to fight crime and save the day!
- Children at the age of 5 begin to control their urges! For example, he or she might ask to play with another child’s toy as opposed to just taking it.
- Kindergarten teachers say that 20% of children entering kindergarten do not have the necessary social and emotional skills to be "ready" for school.
- Social and emotional development is important both in its own right and because aspects of it facilitate cognitive development.
- When children are young, the adults around them (parents, other adult caregivers, preschool teachers) are the most important influences on their social and emotional development.
Implications for Teaching: Tips and Helpful Activities!
Preschool can make an impact on a child’s social and emotional manner. Understanding that acting out inappropriately in class is an unacceptable action in our society today, learning to control emotions and express emotions properly will benefit the child in the future.
We have provided some tips and helpful hints that can be implied in a teacher’s lesson plan. These tips and activities can create a healthy environment to show emotion in a more acceptable way, prevent harm of feelings, and improve the child’s social emotional development.
The Taking Turns Game
- This activity is best used with the younger preschoolers.Show two or three children who will be participants of the turn taking game the toy and say enthusiastically, “We are going to play the turn taking game. First it will be my turn to play with Bozo the toy! When the bell rings it will be Bobby’s turn!” Set the timer to 15 seconds. Play with the toy while repeating in a singsong voice, “when the bell rings it will be Bobby’s turn”. When the bell rings, hand Bobby the toy and say, “It’s Bobby’s turn to play with the toy! When the bell rings it will be Suzie’s turn!” Set the timer for 15 seconds and then repeat the instructions, still using a singsong voice. When the bell rings quickly hand the toy to Suzie. If Bobby fusses or cries about giving up the toy ignore the emotion and say “It’s Suzie’s turn! When the bell rings it will be Bobby’s turn” (say the name of the child to keep his attention, not “your turn” which is responding to the emotional state). When the bell rings, give the toy back to Bobby and repeat.
- Encourage children to engage in cooperative and fantasy play by providing props and open play areas.
- Give children frequent opportunities to play, interact with peers, and make choices.
- Realize that young children may initially be cautious or fearful in a new classroom or other group; they will become more confident as they begin to form attachments to their teachers.
- Teach appropriate ways of handling negative emotions. Encourage children to "use their words" rather than push or hit when angry.
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