The guide “EMOTION AND SOCIALIZATION IN THE SCHOOL ENVIRONMENT” is addressed to practitioners in the field of education, from the preschool level of pre-university education, specialists who want to successfully implement the recommendations regarding the socio-emotional development of preschoolers. We want to offer preschool teachers a working tool that facilitates the realization of attractive, interesting and useful teaching activities, carried out online and offline and that contribute to the socio-emotional development of children.
Structured in two parts, the guide offers theoretical support and proposes various and unique ways of carrying out teaching activities:
Part I contains theoretical information on recognizing and expressing emotions, understanding their causes and consequences, and ways to regulate emotions;
Part II includes theoretical aspects related to the characteristics of the socio-emotional development of the preschool child, an analysis of the curriculum for early education regarding the socio-emotional development of the preschoolers and a series of practical activities;
The theoretical part offers the opportunity to know and understand the socio-emotional characteristics according to age and is the foundation for the application of the curriculum for early education.
The proposed practical activities can help the teacher in carrying out their own activities, as models that can be applied as presented in the pages of the guide or can be used in part, depending on the need and creativity of each professional.
We want to provide useful and effective support for teaching!
I. RECOGNITION AND EXPRESSION OF EMOTIONS
I.1. Awareness of emotional feelings
According to the scientific literature, skills development begins with the expression of primary emotions and continues with expressing more complex emotions as the child grows. The development of emotions seems to depend on the maturation of the brain, but it can be altered by environmental influences. Social and emotional skills developed until the age of 6-7 years and they are the main predictor of school performance and adaptation up to 10 years. Over time, scientists have noticed that the main predictor, which ensures adaptation to adult life, are not school grades or high cognitive potential, but children’s ability to establish relationships with others. These remarks are contrary to faith of the majority that a „smart” child will succeed in life.
According to studies, emotional competence plays a very important role in the adaptation of the preschool child to the environment, in supporting cognitive development in the pre-school period, in preparing /adaptation to school, both directly and indirectly, through its contribution to social competence.
Emotions are subjective reactions to a relevant event, characterized by physiological, experiential (subjective), cognitive (thinking) and behavioral changes. Situations containing inconsistent information with our goals, needs, desires, values (not to our liking), produce negative emotional reactions, while those that are congruent with us they will produce positive emotions. Although the exact identification and clear definition of emotions are especially important in the process of adjustment in life adults, many people fail to distinguish and define them well enough or very accurate.
The child’s emotional processes develop in relation to the world surrounding him and express his feelings resulting from these relationships, leading to dynamize the activities carried
out. The diversity of affective processes is achieved gradually in the mental development of a child.
They develop, they are strengthened by repetition, they get richer, they have a more stable character, contributing to the formation of moods and feelings.
Some affective states, as well as some of their expressions, also develop on the basis of imitation, when the child internalizes the feelings of those around him. If his mother, for example, is afraid of some animals, the child is also afraid of the same animals. The children can also take models of the emotional states experienced by some characters from stories, cartoons, TV shows, etc.
A basic component of emotional competence is the childʼs ability to recognize what he feels. Wrong message recognition entails difficulties in social relations, for example, a child may have problems if he does not recognize the anger on the teacher’s face and he ignores him, continuing to throw the toys on the floor. Thus, emotions are „Providers” of information both for the person living it and also for the people with whom that person interacts. Expressing emotions is very important in social interactions, because it helps maintain them and ensures the childʼs emotional health.
In the preschool period, the child names and recognizes his/her own emotions and those of the people around them, allowing them to respond appropriately to one’s own emotional feelings, as well as those of others. At the age of 3, the child names and recognizes emotions such as: joy, anger, fear and sadness; as he reaches the age of 5-6, this palette of verbal labels is much more extensive, including, for example, shame, guilt, or embarrassment.
In the preschool period, the language of emotions quickly gains in accuracy, clarity and complexity and most importantly, the relationship to the possible causes of people’s feelings is becoming more common. From the moment they are able to talk about emotions, children can have a more objective view of emotions, they can try to understand their own emotions and listen to what others say about theirs. The language of emotions therefore have significant implications for emotional development of the child.
In their efforts to understand the causes of emotions, preschoolers begin to associate different feelings with typical situations such as acknowledging that something is holding you back or the loss of something dear will make you sad. They therefore make the association between emotions, on the one hand, and thoughts and expectations about events, on the other hand.
Noticing the connections between feelings and thoughts at preschool age is also reflected in the understanding that emotions can be evoked by through thoughts about past events. For example, up to five-year-olds understand that someone can be sad when they see a cat that reminds him of the cat he/she just lost. An interesting trend in preschoolers is that they understand better the causes of negative emotions than of positive ones.
However, preschoolers’ understanding of emotions is still limited. They have difficulties in understanding how emotions can be based on false beliefs/thoughts.
Due to the fact that preschoolers are beginning to distinguish between reality and apparently, they are beginning to understand that the way they express their emotions influence the dynamics of relationships with other people. They understand that one person might not show his true feelings in order to protect another person, they start using the rules of emotional expression (socially transmitted rules about how adaptive it is to express your emotions in different circumstances).
As children grow older, discussions about emotions are integrated into daily conversations, reading stories, talking about events that are going to happen, in personal histories, etc. The role of these conversations for understanding emotions derives from:
– increase in language skills, which provides a lexical foundation for sharing psychological experiences that are, in fact, very difficult to define, understand and communicate to others;
– the fact that adults talk to children about people. Thus, whenever a child asks „Why?” about feelings or behaviors he notices to others, he is implicitly taught about how the mind works.
Educator/parent-child conversations about desires, feelings, behaviors and thoughts help children understand psychic mechanisms – the words categorize the psychological experience giving it coherence and criteria for understanding it. Moreover, the conversations about emotions provides a framework for the transmission of cultural values, moral assessments, causal attributions and other belief systems of parents and educators.
In this respect, compared to the explicit rules given by parents of children, references to feelings and emotions are a much more important predictor for the early development of consciousness in children.
There are a number of elements of conversation development that provide the child with the basis for understanding emotions, such as: descriptions made/explanations given by adults about the causes of emotions and their consequences, questions about how they understand emotions, transmitting/explaining and learning emotional management strategies. We can say that emotional and social experiences develop simultaneously with the cognitive mechanisms that become more complex in preschool, and, for a complete understanding, the child’s development must be looked at from the perspective of both socio-emotional and cognitive development.
Understanding emotions is the key to develop emotional skills. It involves identifying the cause and consequences of expressing an emotion and being closely linked to their recognition and expression. Once recognized, the emotional message must be interpreted correctly. Understanding emotions involves: initial assessment of the emotional message conveyed by the other, accurate interpretation, understanding the message through the constraints imposed by the rules of the social context. An emotional episode consists of the following components, namely:
- the activating event, which is specific to each emotion (Eg, fear is triggered by a threatening situation, shame by a given „blow” self-esteem etc.)
- physiological components, such as altered heart rate and pulse, accelerated breathing, sweating, etc.
- experiential components, respectively activated internal feelings (the cognitive evaluation that we do to the triggering situation and how it affects us).
- changes in external behavior are what the others are aware of when they witness someone else’s emotional state, for example facial expressions, vocal changes, gestures.
All these signs help others not only to realize that a person is emotionally activated, but also to identify the emotion that caused the behavioral changes.
All emotions have an adaptive value and they all serve useful regulatory functions, intrapersonal and interpersonal.
Children should not be taught to be angry or scared, neither happy. Such emotions are naturally expressed, they are part of our heritage and it seems that the appearance of various
emotions at different ages is genetically programmed, that it takes the same forms in all people, regardless of the environment social and cultural.
In 1970, psychologist Paul Eckman identified six emotions which he claims to be experienced by all people, regardless of culture. The emotions he has identified are: anger, fear, surprise, disgust, joy and sadness.
Each is expressed in a specific way and in each case this expression has a specific adaptive function (see table below).
|Eyebrows lowered and close, mouth open în a square form or lips pressed against each other.
|Increased heart rate and skin temperature, flushed cheeks
|Overcoming an obstacle, reaching the goal
|Raised eyebrows, eyes wide open and tense, fixed stiffly on the stimulus.
|Increased stable heart rate, low skin temperature, shortness of breath
|Learning about a threatening agent, avoiding dangers.
|Lowered eyebrows, wrinkled nose, raised cheeks and upper lip.
|Low heart rate and skin temperature, increased skin resistance.
|Avoiding harmful sources.
|The inner corners of the eyebrows raised, the corners of the mouth down, the middle of the chin raised.
|Low heart rate, low skin temperature, low skin conductance
|Encouraging others to provide comfort
|The corners of the mouth brought up and towards the ears, the cheeks raised, the eyes narrowed.
|Increased heart rate, irregular breathing, high skin conductance
|Signals openness to friendly interaction
|Eyes wide open, eyebrows raised, mouth open, continuous stimulus orientation.
|Slow heart rate, shortness of breath for a short time, general loss of muscle tone
|Preparation for assimilating a new experience, widening the visual field
Awareness of emotional feelings in preschool children is very difficult to investigate. For this reason, monitoring physiological and behavioral reactions can show signs of emotional feelings. If we notice such changes we can say that the component without which awareness cannot occur exists. For example, the child whose toy is taken away gets angry, and his crying
and aggression can be considered a way of expressing this emotion (anger), although he is not necessarily aware of this. Linguistic labeling of these states facilitates their awareness.
Older children (5-6 years old) understand that emotional reactions are related to thoughts that arise in certain situations. After they realize the existence of a „stomach tightness” when they want to approach a group of children playing, they may realize that this is due to the fear of being rejected by other children. Based on awareness and interpretation, the child will be able to choose the best strategy to use in order to manage their fear and interact with others.
Awareness of one’s emotions is an essential component for the acquisition of all other emotional skills, respectively the source of social adaptation. If a person is not aware of their emotions, he/she will not be able to recognize them or express them properly, which can lead to poor emotional regulation. This can generate maladaptive social relationship strategies and poor social adjustment over time. For example, we cannot talk about emotional regulation if a child is not able to realize and recognize the feeling of anger, because this is the first step in learning management strategies negative emotions.
I.2. Adequate transmission of emotionally charged messages
The child’s ability to convey emotions (verbally and/or non- verbal) appropriate, implies their expression in a form that promotes social adjustment. For example, we do not laugh or tease a colleague with flabby ears. Also, we don’t laugh when mom or dad is arguing with us. The way in which emotional messages are sent, the moment, but also the intensity of the emotion expressed are key factors for context adaptation. For example, it is appropriate for a child to manifest a slight dissatisfaction when losing a game, but it is inappropriate as for these reasons to show anger in the relationship with the other child for a long time.
The expression of emotions involves the appearance of observable behaviors, while experiencing an emotion refers to experiencing them by the person. Usually, children express their emotions just how they feel, without being influenced by the rules of expression. That is why aggression, as a form of manifestation, is much more common in the case of 3-4 year olds compared to 5-6 year olds. At first, children have difficulty in understanding how to manage expression of emotions. This is where the role of the adult comes in, being responsible for shaping children ‘s appropriate behavior, especially in situations with a negative emotional charge.
As children grow, the manifestation of emotions is guided by rules of expression that are largely dependent of the culture the child develops in. Depending on the consequences of certain emotional reactions, children understand that some are socially desirable, and others are not. Older children learn that undesirable emotions can be controlled and replaced with other context-appropriate emotions. E.g, children know that when they are angry, they can argue with other children they will no longer want to play with. In time, they learn that in such a situation, it is acceptable and adaptive to manifest dissatisfaction or sadness.
Understanding the relationship between emotion and its consequences as well as training emotional regulation skills allows children to expresses emotions appropriate to the context. Adequate expression of emotions (positive or negative) helps children to integrate better in the group and to easily form friendships with others.
At the age of 3, children express the emotions they feel. Starting with the age of 4, they begin to understand that the emotions experienced by the others are not necessarily the ones they express. For example, children learn that when a person receives a gift that he/she does not
likes, he/she will smile and behave politely in order not to offend others. After the age of 5, children follow the rules of expressing emotions in social situations, even if they do not understand the reasoning that justifies that rule. A child of this age understands that it is not appropriate to laugh when someone else hits them or to offend others when he is angry.
I.3. Manifestation of empathy
Empathy refers to the child’s ability to experience an emotion as if it would be „in someone else’s shoes.” Empathy means understanding the emotional state lived by another person, the ability to be with him. Empathy involves the behavioral transmission of the fact that we offer understanding and support for the person in a moment with a high negative emotional charge.
The empathic reactions of children are initially manifested in relationships with relevant adults: when one of the parents injures himself, the child can express empathy by having a sad reaction, huging him and even trying to reassure him.
At preschool age, children with secure attachment express easily the empathy in relationships with other children, which is why they integrate much better into the group and are perceived positively by the others. Empathy also allows children to understand the thoughts and the emotions of others, which helps them to successfully use strategies for emotional regulation and problem solving. For these reasons, those children who can express empathy are less likely to develop forms of psychopathology, form and maintain relationships more easily and they have fewer problems integrating into the group.
At the age of 3, children show empathy mainly through non-verbal. They hug or caress the person to convey empathy. Once their verbal skills improve, starting with the age of 5, children are increasingly resorting to verbalize the empathy: “Don’t be upset, you’ll see the wound pass. I also had one and it passed”.
I.4. Identifying emotions based on non-verbal clues
Understanding and recognizing emotions require their verbal labeling („sad” / „happy”) and also a non-verbal component (mime, gestures, tone of voice, etc.). The emotions of others
can be „read” through their non-verbal reactions. For example, we know that when a person is frowning and uses a threatening tone, he experiences the feeling of anger.
The childʼs ability to recognize emotions develops from the first months, infants being able to identify the reactions of joy or anger of parents based on nonverbal cues of these emotions.
The way children interpret non-verbal cues of emotional reactions is the result of previous experiences they have had with the way in which emotions manifests. Children who benefit from the family and later on kindergarten of repeated exposure to emotional reactions and discussions about them are more likely to interpret others messages correctly.
Correct decoding of emotional messages is a source of information which guides the way we behave. For example, children realize that it is not the right time to ask for a new toy immediately after being scolded by their parents.
The ability to understand and discern the emotions of others is essential to manifestation of empathy and prosocial behavior (cooperation, offering aid, etc.).
The ability to identify emotions based on non-verbal cues occurs according to the following time sequence: joy, anger, sadness, fear, surprise, disgust. At the age of 3, children recognize the joy quite accurately, anger and sadness, but they have difficulty recognizing the feeling of fear, which is often confused with sadness. From the age of 5-6, children manage to recognize all the 6 emotions listed above.
I.5. Naming emotions
Especially in preschool, when children learned and they use language more and more frequently, their ability to name their own and others’ emotions correctly also develops. Learning the words that name emotions is based on the ability to decode and interpret correctly the verbal and non-verbal emotional manifestations of oneself and of others. This means the ability to name emotions correctly it is preceded by the ability to be aware of them and to identify them.
During the first years of life, children gradually acquire verbal labels of emotions. In addition to the child’s language skills, this process is largely dependent on the frequency with which adults draw his attention to emotionally charged events and the use of words that describe
emotions. If a child is able to identify the emotional state that he is experiencing and knows to verbalize that emotion, this facilitates verbal transmission of emotions. By teaching children to communicate their emotions, they can express them appropriate, which helps them to accept more easily the other’s point of view and to negotiate solutions to conflict situations.
Verbalizing emotions helps to manage emotions properly because the reactions of anger become controllable precisely through awareness and then exercising control over it through self-dialogue („I am angry …. Stop! Now take a deep breath three times! I calm down and think of a solution!”). Around the age of 3, children are able to differentiate between positive emotions and negative, saying „I’m fine/mom is fine” or „I feel bad/Dad feels bad” and at least they know the name for joy and anger. Most of the 5-year-olds are able to correctly identify and name joy, anger, sadness and fear. From the age of 6, children begin to also use correctly the verbal labels for surprise and disgust.
Emotional language is very important, children talk about how they feel, about their emotions and listen to what others feel and say. Between the ages of 3 and 6, some children inhibit inappropriate behavior, others need rewards or they need to be praised. At this age, children play with each other, but boys with boys and girls with girls, each preferring sex-specific toys. The symbolic and imaginative game develops between 3 and 6 years old, the children must always be asked how they feel, their wishes must be respected.
II. UNDERSTANDING THE CAUSES AND CONSEQUENCES OF EMOTIONS
In order to be able to understand the causes of emotions, you first need to have the ability to be aware of them. Subsequently, being able to verbalize emotions facilitates the discussions about them and about their possible causes.
Acquiring this skill involves identifying associations between emotions and situations. Children may realize that they are feeling certain emotions depending on the situation, for example, „I am happy/angry when my parents buy me a toy” or „I’m scared when I go to the dentist.” Later, once they begin to understand the others point of view, they realize that two people may have different emotional reactions in the same situation: „I am happy when I go to the pool. But Radu is afraid because he doesn’t know how to swim”. This makes it easier to understand the „causes” of emotions, children trying to find explanations for the emotions of others.
The development of this skill is closely related to the frequency with which parents or educators initiate discussions about emotions.
In the preschool stage, children begin to understand that the emotional manifestation has consequences for themselves and others. This is mainly done by discussions in the family or in the educational environment, by knowing the possible consequences of expressing emotions:
„What happened when you were furious?” „I hit Cristi and he started to cry” or „I shared the toy with Maria and she was very happy. We played nice together.”
Children who reflect on emotions and their consequences on their own person and others, acquire adequate emotional regulation strategies faster and are less often involved in conflicts.
The ability to associate a situation with a certain emotion begins to manifest around the age of 3-4, so children can understand that certain events are related to certain emotions. Based on the ability to understand the perspective of others, most 5-year-olds are able to identify possible causes of their own behavior „I like the sea because I am allowed to stay in the water a lot” and the others „He is upset because his parents did not want to buy him the toy”.
Regarding the consequences of emotional feelings, children can understand them from the age of 3 with the help of an adult, and from the age of 5-6 they are able to identify them with minimal help from others.
III. EMOTIONAL ADJUSTMENT
The emotions of the child extend from the family members to educators or children they come in contact with, they can lead to conditions of quick, easy or difficult adaptation to new situations or new people.
Due to the development of intellectual abilities, the child can master some affective states, and may delay others.
After the age of 3, the emotional feelings start to get more stable, emotional life is enriched, an important aspect for adapting and relating to those who the child interacts with, primarily with parents and loved ones. The child then becomes able to develop reactions based on sympathy or antipathy, acceptance or rejection of those with whom he interacts.
The preschooler’s affectivity is still situational and unstable, being closely related to the concrete elements of his life, being at the same time dependent on changes in its needs and other external factors triggers. Affective memory develops rapidly, leading to imprinting situations, emotions, so the child looks for them and repeats them to achieve the same effects, especially in the case of positive feelings that have product pleasure.
Emotional regulation is the process by which emotional reactions are monitored, evaluated and modified in order to function normally in everyday life. Emotional regulation is therefore a process of dynamic adaptation of emotional reactions to situations in everyday life. The children ability to effectively regulate their emotions is the main purpose of socio-emotional development, because this process has a protective role on the mental and social health of children.
Emotional regulation refers to the ability to initiate, maintain, and modulate the appearance, intensity of subjective feelings and physiological processes that accompanies emotion; behavioral regulation refers to the ability to control emotion-triggered behavior. The children face a series of obstacles when learning to control emotions and behavior:
- to tolerate frustration;
- to cope with fear;
- to defend himself;
- to tolerate being alone;
- to negotiate friendship etc.
Regulatory capabilities are responsible for managing the positive or negative emotional reactions and reduce the distress caused by dysfunctional emotional states. To reduce the intensity of emotions which causes them discomfort, children often resort to searching physical closeness to the adult. This adjustment mechanism is highly dependent of the quality of the emotional relationship that children have with the adult, which will encourage them to seek his support.
Over time, children also manage to acquire self-control strategies, strategies by which they begin to exercise management of their own emotional reactions independently. They learn to eliminate the source of stress through distraction, for example by redirecting attention to other items when their favorite toy is not available.
Another strategy is to reinterpret a negative emotional loaded situation in a positive way (eg, „I better not eat so many sweets than going to the dentist”). These strategies are quite rarely used spontaneously and largely depend on how their parents teaches children to react to negative emotions.
Emotional regulation skills are needed for the correct management of negative emotions, which leads to a good adaptation to the requirements of the school environment. When children are asked to sit on the bench for 50 minutes, to pay attention for a long time or fulfill the teacher’s increasingly complex instructions, they have fewer negative emotional reactions and fewer behavioral problems.
Emotional regulation is partly influenced by temperamental characteristics of children. For those who have an increased emotional reactivity, that is, they experience emotions stronger than other children of the same age, acquiring the strategies described above can be quite a difficult task. If these strategies do not materialize, children are at risk for repeated outbursts of anger and/or aggression (beating, hitting other children, damaging toys). On the other hand, if emotional reactivity is too low, this might be a risk factor that predisposes the child to depressive reactions, fear, social isolation, etc.
Temperamental aspects, although difficult to change, can be modulated precisely through the impact of learning experiences. For example, a child with a difficult temper can have problems in properly managing his reactions of anger, but if adults intervene and help the child to find solutions to these situations, then learning experiences can compensate temperament deficits over time.
At the age of 3-4, most children look for the physical closeness of an adult to manage negative emotions. At the age of 4, children begin to redirect attention to another situation when experiencing a negative emotion, initially with the help of an adult, and after the age of 5-6 they manage to do so without his intervention. After this age, children are beginning to acquire
strategies such as minimizing the importance of an unpleasant situation or its reinterpretation in positive terms.
Research shows that internal regulation skills such as awareness and recognizing one’s emotions and effectively regulating emotional expression in social interactions are crucial for positive interactions between colleagues and for employment in school assignments. The sad, scared or nervous children are worried, they can’t get involved in learning tasks and cannot focus. A solid security emotional base helps the child to participate in learning experiences.
Preschoolers can identify different ways of interpreting events in an attempt to make them harmless; through discussions with others, they can share their feelings and listen to other interpretations. So, in order to regulate his negative emotions, the preschooler is already using behavioral strategies (distraction through play), cognitive strategies (shifting thoughts from the situation, considering things in a more positive light) or verbal (discussing emotions with others, reflecting on them).
An essential aspect of emotional regulation is the development of the ability to differentiate between controllable stressors (e.g. a task they have to complete) and those who cannot be controlled (e.g. painful medical procedures). Older children recognize faster the circumstances that cannot be controlled and are trying to adapt to situation, not to change it. The importance of emotional self-regulation is demonstrated by the association of effective emotional regulation with a high social competence and low behavioral problems.
I. SOCIO-EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT OF THE PRESCHOOL CHILD
The mental development of the preschool child involves profound emotionally changes, they have a big impact on emotions and feelings of the future adult.
Knowledge of the child’s emotional development guides both educational influences of the family, as well as those that are exercised in the kindergarten space.
The basic characteristics of the affective development of the preschooler are:
– overcoming the emotional crisis, with a progressive and wider positive of the emotional states. Joys and satisfactions are more common, the child becomes more tolerant, connections with others are easier to establish, and integration into various activities are done faster. That note of serenity appears as a characteristic of this age.
– determining the emotional feelings by the present circumstances, “here and now”. We are talking about the situational character of emotional feelings. Preschoolers, especially small and medium, live intensely the moment and are little influenced by obligations and pressing needs. This feature is representative of this stage, and is called „childhood carelessness.”
– the gradual increase in the complexity of affectivity as a result of enrichment relationships with the environment, as well as due to interactions with all other psychical processes and functions. Memory elements are beginning more and more involved, as well as emotional or parental moral demands. Even at the age of three, some children may feel guilty for violating parental requirements. At four, they can be proud of what they have managed to do and happy to be rewarded. At the age of six, the prestige crisis can be intensely experienced if the child is reprimanded in public or may be disappointed if adults do not grant him the attention he expects. „Bitter Candy Syndrome”, the child who receives a reward when he has not fully deserved it, is able to report this discordance between what is required and what he has achieved emotionally, best represents this peculiarity of the preschooler’s affectivity.
– immediate emotional resonance and emotional impressionability. In this stage, the child will be able to react, to experience many emotions and feelings, depending on the situations and events they interact with. Thus, at the age of 3, the child is impressed if another child cries next to him, and at the age of 5 he shows compassion, he wants to soothe his pain, he caresses him,
he begs him not to cry and at the end of the period, the child has a better control over his own reaction. Now he understands better those around him and the real life situations.
– achieving affective learning; by observing behaviors others, by imitation, by social reinforcement, models of affective states can be taken from those around the child, including some of the characters in the story, cartoons etc.
Through emotional learning, the child’s emotionally expressive behavior enriches and nuances beginning to gradually structure some mechanisms of emotional regulation. The child realizes the effect of his behaviors on those around him and acts accordingly. E.g, at the age of 4-5, he can successfully simulate some emotional states, to get what he wants from the adult.
-crystallization of fundamental feelings, as a result of the duration of relationships with significant people and activities and the generalization of the emotions experienced on these occasions. It is, first of all, about the feelings towards the parents and close relatives, compared to other significant adults, such as the educator, towards to activities such as play, learning, etc.
– enrichment and diversification of affectivity. Thus, „the child begins to show a greater nuance of emotions”. His joy will be different if it is generated by the meeting with the mother, by the reunion of a relative, by the reception of a gift, success in a game or activity, etc.
Entering the kindergarten implies new and different experiences that will accentuate and reinforce all these characteristics of the preschooler’s affectivity. This entry of the child „in preschool institutions, requires all his adaptation possibilities”. Preschools that offer appropriate equipment and necessary comfort will arouse the child’s curiosity and pleasure and
will fade the anxiety and the tension generated by this great change in his life. The educatorʼs role is important.
The educator keeps the emotional warmth of the parents and at the same time stimulates the child to get involved, to dare to succeed on his own. The content of kindergarten activities is a systematic stimulus, of duration, which contributes to the development of higher emotions and feelings, such as intellectual, aesthetic and moral.
Therefore, the educator plays some specific roles in the process of development and emotional maturation of the preschooler:
a) helps him to break free from tensions and disturbances of the exclusive emotional relationship with parents and relatives;
b) supports him to build a new strong and secure emotional relationship;
c) ensures a good adaptation to new tasks and situations and thus creates a positive climate for the development and the achievement of a real emotional independence;
d) develops superior emotions and feelings and enriches and diversifies the child’s emotional feelings by organizing and carrying out new activities.
Success in fulfilling these roles is also conditioned by quality family influences. The child’s trust in his parents’ love allows him to accept the temporary separation from them and to engage in a new relationship, like the one with the educator.
Relationship with equals is another factor in emotional development and progress. Confrontation and relationship with equals diminish the egocentrism which, willingly or
unwillingly, is maintained by the family. Even only the presence of the elderly, to which the educator refers in the same way, makes the child realize that he is not the center of the universe and perceives the others as equals.
Both peer relationships and the pedagogical tact and talent of the educator ensures the decrease of aggression in children. The educator is the one who shapes the behaviors of all children, discouraging their aggressive acts and explaining to them why they should be rejected and avoided.
Therefore, the role of peers in the emotional development of the preschooler is mediated and conditioned by the actions and influences of the educator on the group. J. Piaget points out that: „Affectivity, focused first on family complexes, widens the register as social relations multiply…”.
Progress and the dynamics of emotional life are one of the most important aspects of the child’s normal mental development.
II. CURRICULUM AND SOCIO-EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT OF PRESCHOOLERS
The curriculum for early education in the Romanian educational system went through a series of revisions. A detailed analysis of it shows the special importance given to the socio-emotional development of preschoolers. Activities designed and carried out in the educational praxis are intended to stimulate the socio-emotional development of preschoolers both as an age and as an individual perspective.
The didactic and play activities are presented as directions in the framework Curriculum for early education – 2019, from the Annex to the Order of Minister of National Education no. 4.694 / 2.08.2019.
As part of the curriculum for early education, the personal development activities occupy an important place, with an allotted time of 2 h/day, 10 h/week for the age range 37 – 60 months and 1,5 h and 7,5 h for age range 61 – 72/84 months.
Personal development activities – PDA at preschool level include routines, transitions, part of free-choice activities in the morning (when individual exploration of a subject in which the child is interested is encouraged), the activities of development of personal inclinations/predispositions/skills during the period in the afternoon (for extended or weekly program groups – preschool level), including optional and extracurricular activities.
The curriculum is a tool for optimizing the educational experience of children. This document sets out the pedagogical framework for supporting children’s development in a holistic way, through educational practices and care that allow children to reach their full potential, also allowing the educators to customize their approach according to interests, the needs and potential of each child.
In this regard, a number of documents emphasizes that there is a significant impact on the curriculum taught on child development (European Commission, EACEA and Eurydice, 2014).
According to the document, the aims of early education are in view a holistic approach, targeting the five areas of child development:
✔ physical development, health and personal hygiene;
✔ socio-emotional development;
✔ cognitive development and knowledge of the world;
✔ development of language, communication and the premises of reading and writing;
✔ learning abilities and attitudes.
The curriculum for early education capitalizes on the competence-based curriculum paradigm and substantiates the educational approaches on the child and on his/her learning activity as a process, respectively on the acquisition of behaviors that ensure the premises for the development of later key competencies. Considering the development particularities of the child up to 6 years, it is not proper to use the concept of competence, understood as an integrated set of knowledge, skills and attitudes. Competence involves the existence of cognitive patterns and behavioral patterns, meaning a higher level of development than that reached by typical children in the stage 0-3 years and even 3-6 years. In the Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2008 on the establishment of the European qualifications for lifelong learning (Official Journal C 111 of 06.05.2008) the competence is described from the perspective of responsibility and autonomy, as a proven ability to use knowledge, skills and personal, social and/or methodological skills in work or studying situations and for professional and personal development.
Socio-emotional development – aims at the beginning of the child’s social life, his ability to establish and maintain interactions with adults and children. Social interactions mediate the way children look at themselves and at the world around you. Emotional development is mainly about the ability of children to perceive and express emotions, to understand and respond to emotions of others, as well as the development of the self-concept, crucial for this domain. In close correlation with the concept about the child’s self also develops the self-image, which decisively influences the learning process.
Emotional development is closely related to the shaping of the self-awareness process, but also with the parameters of intellectual and moral development and performing increasingly diverse relationships with adults.
At the end of the preschool period, the child will manifest a series of behaviors, including:
1. Interactions with adults and children of similar age
1.1. Demonstrates confidence in known adults by practicing interaction with them
1.2. Demonstrates skills in requesting and receiving help in specific issues situations
1.3. Initiates / participates in positive interactions with older children
2. Prosocial behaviors, acceptance and respect for diversity
2.1. Expresses recognition and respect for similarities and differences in people
2.2. Appropriates and obeys rules; understands their effects in the social relations field, in familiar contexts
2.3. Exercises, with support, the assumption of age-specific responsibilities, in various contexts
2.4. Practices, with support, negotiation skills and participation in decisions-making
2.5. Demonstrates acceptance and understanding of others from his close environment
3. The concept of self
3.1. Practices, with support, positive self-esteem in a variety of educational situations
3.2. Promotes his self-image, by manifesting himself as a unique person, with specific features
4. Self-control and emotional expressiveness
4.1. Recognizes and expresses basic emotions, products of musical pieces, texts, art objects, etc.
4.2. Demonstrates emotional self-control skills
Behavioral indicators of emotional development at the end preschool period:
Interacts positively and plays with adults
He is playing with another child
Follows group routines
Says his name and age, if asked
Recognizes simple emotions (fear, joy, sadness)
Learns to share his objects and wait for his turn
Assumes responsibility for his actions
Friends become more interesting than adults
Uses more and more words to resolve conflicts
Demonstrates more autonomy
Understands his own feelings and the emotions of others
Is able to use words to describe his/her own emotions
Begins to express his sense of humor (through riddles, jokes and words without sense)
Empathy is manifested mainly through non-verbal reactions
Gradually the isolated or parallel game is replaced by cooperative games
ACTIVITY 1: WHAT TO DO?
Group: 3-4 years old
The goal: to adopt prosocial behaviors.
-to distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate behaviors;
-to associate emotional states (joy, sadness) with adequate / inadequate behaviors.
How to do it: in the group room.
Materials: pictures with situations in which children behave according to the rules and situations in which children do not follow the rules of civilized behavior (Appendix 1), a token with a smiling face and one with a sad face (Appendix 2), large construction cubes (like lego duplo, maxi block).
Carrying out the activity:
In order for this activity to be carried out, the educator will previously list the images presented in Appendix 1, will cut them and then cut them into 2-3 or 4 equal parts so that each part can be glued to the side face (the smooth one) of a lego piece. Obviously, the pieces must have the same size, and if possible the same color to be sorted easily by children. Each cut part will need to be glued on one piece, so that when the pieces are joined correctly, the initial image results.
We present below a model for example:
In freely chosen games and activities, at the board game center, the teacher places all the lego pieces on the table and invites the children to assemble them in order to find out what images can be formed. When children discover all the pictures, the places on top of the table at which the children work a smiling face and a sad one (Appendix 2).
Then he takes each picture in turn and asks the children, “What are these children doing?” „How do they behave?” „Where do you think we should put this image: in front of the smiling face or in front of the sad face?”
Finally, the teacher asks the children if they have ever passed through a similar situation as that placed in front of the sad face and them invites the children to describe the situation. Then he asks them, what did they do? How did they behave? Who did they turn to? and so on.
It’s important that after this activity, children understand that they do not have to copy inadequate behaviors in order to make friends, that they are not allowed to respond with violence when faced with violent behavior from a colleague, that it is very important to say: “STOP! I do not like what you are doing!” when someone upsets them and then go tell the educator (if the inappropriate behavior continues).
ACTIVITY 2: THE MEADOW OF BUGS
Group: 3-4 years old
Purpose of the activity: to adopt behaviors necessary to establish and maintain interpersonal relationships.
-to listen to others without interrupting them;
-to notice that a behavior has emotional consequences on the people involved.
How to do it: in the group room
Materials: masks with happy/sad bees (Appendix 1) for each child, cups and
tea plates, teaspoons, two sugar bowls, a teapot, napkins paper, toy cakes (optional).
Tips & Warnings Bee masks can be made in advance with the children.
Carrying out the activity:
The teacher invites the children to sit on the carpet in a circle. Then he announces that they will play polite bees. He will invite the children to imagine that each one of them is a bee drinking tea with her friends. While drinking tea, the bees talk about what is happening in The Meadow of Bugs, a meadow in which, next to the bees, live all kinds of insects. The teacher will ask the children what insects they think that live there in the meadow.
Then she shows the children the objects they will use in the game: a bee mask (the mask will have a happy face on one side and a sad face on the other part), a cup of tea, a teaspoon and a napkin. In the middle of the circle there will be two bowls of sugar (children will have to imagine that there is sugar in the bowls), and the teacher will have the teapot with her. Throughout the game, the bees (the teacher is also a bee) will drink tea and be able to ask another bee for the sugar using polite formulas: „Please pass me the sugar?”, „Here you go!”,
„Thank you!”, „I would like some more tea, please!”. While the bees are drinking tea, the educator tells them the news from The Meadow of Bugs. The bees also analyze them and react appropriately using the cheerful or sad face of the mask.
Examples for the news:
Did you hear that Bobi, the bumblebee, pushed his little brother out of the hive? What do you think about this?
Did you know that the butterfly Beatrice met her friend Tinkerbell and said “Good morning”? She’s polite, isn’t she?
Yesterday at noon, spider Bobi found a walnut shell and decided to hide in it. His friend Toto wanted to hide in the walnut shell, too. Bobi told him he didn’t want to share the walnut shell with anyone. Did Bobby behave right with Toto?
Did you know that Grace, the cricket, learned to say „Thank you” to his mother when he gets something good and sweet?
Today, in kindergarten, the ants went out in the park. Amalia waited patiently for her turn to the swing. What are you saying? Did she do it right?
At breakfast, little caterpillar Tammy was talking loudly to her sister as she chewed a delicious piece of pear. Her father told her not to talk so loud because their little brother is still sleeping, but Tammy didn’t want to listen and she spoke even louder. Did she behave nicely?
In the morning, Spider Rico helped his younger friend weave a cloth. They were both so happy when the canvas was ready!
The Rada beetle was coming from kindergarten, when he saw Coco the old snail on the path. Without thinking too much, he said to the snail, „Get out of my way, I’m in a hurry!” What do you think? Was the beetle polite?
Cricket Roy replied, „Sorry to interrupt!” when his parents were talking and he wanted to say something to his mother.
Ladybug Lulu took a leaf from the caterpillar without asking permission. The caterpillar was
very sad! Do you think the ladybug did the right thing?
The activity ends after all the situations have been exposed. The teacher ask the „bees” if they felt good during tea and if they still want to come back another time.