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Social, emotional development key for school success

Reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic — the classic three “Rs” that are associated with school and learning. These three subjects are central to many grade-school curricula as important building blocks to the varied and expansive information children will learn as they progress through the school system. They play an important role in developing children’s cognitive skills to help them understand the world around them. Cognitive development may very well be the type of development most people think of when sending children to school. They are going there to learn, to expand their minds and fill their brains with important information. Children, however, also need skills in other areas of development to be successful in school — particularly social and emotional development.

It is best for children to have a good foundation in social and emotional development prior to starting school. Although, these are skills that children will grow and develop in over time. Children who lack these skills may show a lack of interest in learning, have little confidence in their own abilities and struggle with self-control.

Children who possess the following social and emotional skills are more likely to succeed in school:

* follow directions

* take turns

* exhibit self-control

* problem solving without the use of aggression

* work well independently as well as in a group

* communicate well with both children and adults

* make friends with other children

There are a multitude of ways parents and caregivers can help children develop their emotional and social skills. The following list contains some examples.

* Model awareness of your own emotions by expressing your feelings with words children can understand.

* Help children verbally label their emotions.

* Discover their emotions by trying to understand the reasoning behind their emotions.

* Validate their feelings.

* Provide opportunities for positive social interaction.

* Encourage children to practice appropriate social interaction, such as sharing and using manners.

* Model effective problem solving and encourage appropriate behavior.

These ideas can provide parents and caregivers with a productive starting point to build children’s social and emotional development.

For more ideas, or more detailed information, contact Christina Rittenbach, North Dakota State University Stutsman County Extension agent, at 252-9030 or christina.rittenbach@ndsu. edu