Essential skills take root early
Arecent study suggests that the non-academic skills that kids learn when they’re babies, toddlers and preschoolers can have a positive effect on them when they’re in their teen years.
These social-emotional skills, such as selfcontrol, using memory to make connections between ideas and the ability to think creatively, also called executive function, are best developed in early childhood.
The research out of New York University examined the long-term impacts of a highquality early childhood program in Chicago and found “evidence suggesting that the program positively affected children’s executive function and academic achievement during adolescence.”
Important social and behavioral skills, such as motivation, self-discipline, focus and self-esteem begin to take root from birth to age 5. Successful people share these traits and families play a large role in helping develop the tools children need to learn these essential life skills.
First Things First encourages families of young children to support the development of social-emotional skills by providing positive, nurturing relationships between their young child and the adults in their lives.
Families can look for moments that combine academic learning with social learning. For example, helping a child recognize his emotions can also be a lesson on learning new words. Or using a book to talk about self-reflection or empathy encourages a conversation in the same way a book about a ship in the ocean might encourage a conversation about the characters’ feelings.
Establishing good communication when they are young, will create a good parent/child relationship as they grow into teenagers and young adults. Encourage them to help you prepare food, and chat as you do so, give you a bit of time to talk without pressure. Family mealtimes are also a good way to make sure that everyone is coming together on a regular basis.
Setting young children on the path to positive social and emotional development is one part of the keys to success later in life. Children who are healthy and prepared when they enter kindergarten do better in school and are more likely to graduate and enroll in college. Welleducated adults are more prepared for the job opportunities of a global marketplace and to contribute to the strength of their communities.