It's gratifying to know there is more to preschool than learning the ABCs. In addition to preparing a child for academic learning, preschool can promote the social and emotional growth of children. At three and four years of age, a child is becoming more independent and learning to interact with his or her own peers. Part of this new stage in a preschooler's life means adapting to new situations, sharing with other children, and learning to communicate and empathize with the feelings of others. The following preschool programs and activities can help children develop socially and emotionally:
1. Dramatic Role Play
You may find that many caregivers and preschool teachers incorporate role playing games and dramatic play into their curriculum. This is a way to encourage interaction among the children while promoting creativity. Allowing children to express themselves creatively is also good for their self-esteem, which improves their emotional well-being. It also teaches children patience, cooperation, and empathy towards others.
Whether it is simply playing dress up or putting on a full-feature dramatic play, role play acting can teach a child to appreciate unique situations and the feelings of others. Practicing different scenarios may also help develop a child's social skills. For instance, children may pretend to be siblings going shopping together. How will they agree on their purchases? Another scenario might involve children introducing themselves when starting a new school or while at a party.
2. Turn-Based Games
Playing turn-based games helps preschoolers learn to play and interact cooperatively. It teaches patience as they learn to take turns without the focus always being on them. A child may become less grabby and selfish, as well as learn to play by the rules. Turn-based games may include traditional board games for preschoolers as well as games such as hide and seek, freeze tag, follow the leader, and guessing games.
3. Story Time
Preschool activities almost always include story time. Reading to children helps build their language and vocabulary skills. As children learn a wider vocabulary, it will help them converse and communicate with others. It may also help improve problem-solving skills, as well as help them learn how to resolve conflicts. For instance, a teacher (or parent) may ask a child to guess the outcome of a story or how the main character may resolve a problem.
4. Kneading Away Frustration
Pounding on dough can be an effective way for a child to work through aggression. This activity may be called "Creating Frustration Cookies". This will teach a child to take out their frustration on inanimate objects, rather than other children, and create something tasty in the process. It's a smart way to encourage emotional well-being.
The concept is similar to the use of a stress ball that adults squeeze to relieve stress at the office. When children feel agitated or angry, they can be directed to the "Frustration Cookie Center", where they squeeze and pound dough (clay) with their fists. After they pulverize their dough, they shape them into cookies and include additions such as chocolate chips or raisins. The teacher then helps them bake their frustration cookies. A kid's pent-up frustrations and energy is released, and he or she gets to enjoy their edible creation.
5. King or Queen for a Day
This concept is a simple one. Good behavior and cooperation in the classroom is rewarded with the title of "King for a Day" or "Queen for a Day." The cooperative and well-behaved child is crowned with a headdress, making him or her feel extra special. The crown will remind others that good behavior is recognized. Kids like to feel appreciated and special, and this will encourage them to cooperate, while building self-esteem in the process.
Talk to a local preschool program, such as Advantage Learning Center, to see if they have additional suggestions.