Social-Emotional Learning and Kindergarten Readiness

Although academic skills such as identifying letters and numbers have traditionally been the hallmarks of what would make a child “Kindergarten Ready”, an increased emphasis on social-emotional learning and competency in a child’s first five years is oftentimes the greatest indicator of future success in school and life. What parents need to know about school readiness is that there is a direct correlation between educating and developing the “whole child” – focusing on academic, physical, and emotional health – and school success (both in the early years and long term!) By building social-emotional skills in the first five years and working alongside a pediatrician at well-visits, parents and caregivers can ensure the healthiest start for their kids. Here are a few ideas to get you started as you work to develop your child’s social-emotional skills:


Did you know you can begin developing empathy in your child starting at birth? By practicing responsive caregiving (a child expresses a need and caregivers warmly respond to meet the need), parents are modeling empathy and developing a secure attachment with their baby. As children grow and their physical and emotional needs are regularly met by a loving parent or caregiver, trust is developed and very young children begin to understand that they have value and are loved. 

Toddlers and Preschoolers:

Talking about feelings with toddlers and preschoolers over the course of your day can help children learn how to identify different emotions and how to navigate various situations with their peers. Additionally, modeling respect and empathy in your relationship with your child as well as in other adult relationships and interpersonal interactions throughout your day helps your child see firsthand what healthy responses to others look like.

School-Age Children:

In older preschoolers and elementary age students, brainstorming ideas of what kindness looks like at home, school, and in the community can help give children specific goals to work towards. When children act kindly towards others, praising them by naming specifically what they did helps to clearly identify what they did well so they can continue doing it. Guiding your child as they develop healthy relationships and social-emotional know-how will ensure the strongest start for your child…who will be a Kindergartener in the blink of an eye! 

For more information about social-emotional learning in children ages birth-4, sign up for one of our newly developed social-emotional learning sessions at Hope to see you soon!