Early childhood education

How does emotional well-being affect other aspects of a child’s development?

Let us recollect the meaning of social and emotional development. It is defined as the process through which we recognise and manage our emotions to establish healthy relationships, seek ‘happy-endings’ positive goals, behave ethically and accountably and control negative behaviours.
The social and emotional competence developed in the first few years (childhood) dictates a child’s ability to feel, understand, respond and observe reactions/behaviours in a more complex ‘real world’ of school. Attending school is like visiting and living quite an ‘emotional and social zoo.’
Thus, it is essential that emotions of young children get the same level of attention as their thinking – and this is not really feasible at school – there is no time and emotional bandwidth for such a level of individual attention and response.
To be true, when emotions and feelings are not well understood and managed, optimal level of thinking
should not be expected. The circuits that are involved in the regulation of emotion are highly interactive with those that are associated with “executive functions” (such as planning, judgment, and decision-making), which are intimately involved in the development of problem-solving skills during the preschool years. Simply put, when people are emotionally aware of self and others around them, the logical thinking abilities can be gathered and deployed into every situation and every time it is needed.
In this context, it should not be surprising to realize that emotional development is a very critical substrate for most other aspects of life and living.
The following are just some illustrative relationships between emotional state and performance outcomes:
a. Anxiety (a common emotional state of lack of emotional well-being) and academic performance are not favourably related.
b. When focus on emotions is a way of teaching and organizing classrooms and schools such that children learn a set of skills needed to successfully manage life tasks such as learning, forming relationships, communicating effectively, being sensitive to others’ needs, and getting along with others, academic achievement of children enhances.
c. When school staff is hands on in emotional development support at school, students’ academic performance improve significantly.
d. Social emotional learning is sometimes called “the missing piece,” because it represents a part of education that links academic knowledge with a specific set of skills important to success in schools, families, communities, workplaces, and life in general.
e. When children grow up with knowledge but without adequate/appropriate social emotional skills, a strong moral compass may be missing.
f. Lack of appropriate emotional investment is many a times the “missing piece” in effective learning – what’s commonly known as ‘half-hearted’ attention or effort
g. Play is the most important part of healthy development of children. Pleasure (a very common emotional state) is at the core of good play for children as much as for adults. There cannot be play if there is no joy or pleasure in it.
h. Emotional stability is very critical to creative thinking.
i. In the long run, best of art and music comes out of happy state of being.
j. Indeed, academic readiness quite rests on and includes the pro-social skills.
For most children, these social skills are the ones essential for fostering lasting friendships and relationships, effective parenting, success at work with peers, subordinates and superiors and for becoming a contributing member of a community.

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