Nurturing Kindergarten Readiness With Social-Emotional Development
Shortly before Alanna Clomon’s daughter began kindergarten, the Lauderdale mother received a tangible reminder of her 5-year-old daughter’s progress at Wilder’s Child Development Center. Each month, Mi’Yanna recorded her efforts to write her signature in a book. Over more than a year, what began as chicken scratch transformed into legible handwriting. “I’m saving it until she graduates from high school,” Alanna says.
By the time Mi’Yanna started kindergarten in fall 2017, she could write her name, knew numbers and shapes, and had made good progress on other academic skills. Just as important, Alanna says, teachers at the Child Development Center spent time working with Mi’Yanna on social and emotional skills. When Mi’Yanna first started at Wilder, teachers took the time to comfort her and help her adjust to being away from her parents each day, Alanna recalls.
As she progressed at the Center, Mi’Yanna worked on expressing feelings and emotions. She and her friends learned to hold each other accountable for their behavior and to find ways to solve conflicts. She worked on asking other kids to play. “They really took the time to push her and urge her,” Alanna says.
Social-Emotional Skills are Foundation for School Success
Research shows that social and emotional skills are strongly linked to school success, says Naoko Sands, Assistant Director at the Child Development Center. “Learning is a social process,” Naoko says. “Children who can follow directions, get along with their classmates, and manage their emotions in the classroom are better able to learn. That’s why the Child Development Center works so closely with families to help our children learn these skills.”
Teachers and staff at the Child Development Center promote social-emotional development with specific goals and objectives for both toddlers and preschoolers. Social and emotional learning is incorporated into children’s daily lives through stories, language, classroom displays and lessons. Children are assessed regularly to determine where they need more support, and teachers and parents work together to create individual development plans for each child.
Families are invited to become deeply involved in the Center, which holds an annual Thanksgiving dinner and Valentine’s Day breakfast with parents, along with a summer ice cream social and other gatherings. Parents are engaged at every opportunity to help create a strong community, says Assistant Director Angela Clair.
“Children can do their best when whole families feel nurtured and supported,” Angela says. “By encouraging trusting relationships among parents, staff and students, we create an environment where students and parents have the knowledge and confidence to become lifelong learners.”
A Family Affair: Positive Experience Leads to Another Enrollment
Based on her positive experiences with Mi’Yanna, Alanna enrolled her younger son as soon as possible at the Center, which typically serves children age 16 months to 5 years. Alanna had kept her older daughter at home with family until she was nearly 3, but she trusted the Child Development Center to let her son start earlier. “I wanted to get him into school so that he could take advantage of the social-emotional learning,” Alanna says.
Meanwhile, when Mi’Yanna started kindergarten, she was socially, emotionally and academically ready. “The move was super smooth for her,” Alanna says.