As we start a new school year, many of us in early childhood education are faced with difficult conversations with parents about academic achievement. The concern about academics is raised by parents for many reasons, but one is that they are faced with the “expectations” of certain academic skills when their child enters kindergarten. Although kindergarten is not compulsory, there are both perceived and real expectations of academic performance entering kindergarten. Not only are parents concerned about kindergarten, but they are also looking further ahead ~ elementary school and beyond. All parents want their child to be successful, and that means something different for each family, but what the research tells us is that an emphasis on social and emotional development leads to academic success in later years.
In this article, I provide references to research articles that indicate a solid social emotional foundation leads to greater academic achievement.
1. Cohen, Jonathan. (2006) Social, Emotional, Ethical, and Academic Education: Creating a Climate for Learning, Participation in Democracy, and Well-Being. Harvard Educational Review, 76(2).
“There are two core processes that promote children’s school success and healthy development: (a) promoting children’s social-emotional competencies and ethical dispositions through their preK-12 school experience, and (b) creating safe, caring, participatory, and responsive school systems and homes.”
"Young children who exhibit healthy social, emotional, and behavioral adjustment are more likely to have good academic performance in elementary school.”
2. National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, 2004
“The recent research strengthens the view that early childhood programs support later positive learning outcomes in all domains by maintaining a focus on the promotion of healthy social emotional development.”
“The core features of emotional development include the ability to identify and understand one’s own feelings, to accurately read and comprehend emotional states in others, to manage strong emotions and their expression in a constructive manner, to regulate one’s own behavior, to develop empathy for others, and to establish and maintain relationships.”
3. Bell and Wolfe. (2004). Emotion and Cognition: An Intricately Bound Developmental Process
“Brain research indicates that emotion and cognition are profoundly interrelated processes. Specifically, “recent cognitive neuroscience findings suggest that the neural mechanisms underlying emotion regulation may be the same as those underlying cognitive processes”.
4. National Research Council and Institute of Medicine (2000)
“Emotion and cognition work together, jointly informing the child’s impressions of situations and influencing behavior. Most learning in the early years occurs in the context of emotional supports.”
5. The Science of Early Childhood Development. Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University (2007)
“Policy initiatives that promote supportive relationships and rich learning opportunities for young children create a strong foundation for higher school achievement followed by greater productivity in the workplace and solid citizenship in the community.”
If you would like more information and references supporting the Social-Emotional Development Domain, please see: http://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/cd/re/itf09socemodev.asp.
Ongoing and intentional education of the importance of social/emotional development from birth to five is imperative to change the trajectory of our education system. Let’s start with our parents this year!