How educators can encourage social emotional competence

Social-Emotional Competence

The importance of the early years educator as the facilitator is to provide a safe environment for children to learn and develop competency. It is important for children to learn independently, but this can be fostered through an educator's facilitation.

It is the job of the educator, through their understanding of age and personality, to create situations for Max where he is encouraged to demonstrate his competencies and discover his limitations without feeling overwhelmed.

For example, daily routines and structure common in educational settings provide opportunities for young children to anticipate events in which they know they can participate (i.e. morning circle, snack/lunch time, getting dressed/undressed).

educator as facilitator

  • Give children opportunities throughout the day to participate in routines such as the morning circle, transition times, etc. For Max, his participation can start with simple acts such as putting his attendance photo on the attendance chart, sharing how he feels in morning circle with simple hand signs, and being the table washer for the day as his job.

  • Observe the children and give them support and encouragement in their areas of interest. 

  • Help the children to figure out their own abilities and what they can do independently while still feeling comfortable to ask for help if needed.

  • Facilitating play, discovery and independence involves giving the children opportunities and letting them participate willingly in their abilities versus forcing too many roles and responsibilities on them.

Examples for different age groups:

Ages 1-2: Out of two to three choices, children can choose what materials they want to explore. Children can start to learn how to pull off their shoes and socks, this can take place by peer modelling as well as demonstrating. Facilitated by the educator, children can hand out bottles to their peers for drinking or napkins for eating.

Ages 2-3: Children can be shown through routine how to put away their own plates and bowls after meal times. Children can start to take off their own coats, pants and shoes and be encouraged to put them on with support. Through modelling and routine, children can put away large items throughout the classroom, participating in tidy up.

Ages 3-4: Children can participate in creating rules for their classroom. They can choose to take on jobs in the classroom, taking turns watering plants, cleaning tables, etc. They can independently put on and take off their articles of clothing.

Ages 4-5: Children choose independently what they want to be doing in an open playtime. Children can express their ideas for how they want to learn, what they see what works and what doesn’t as they explore different concepts in play (Graf & Seide, 2019).