A new survey finds a majority of parents of children younger than six in Utah and across the country rated social emotional development the most important factor when choosing a child-care provider or school.
Chairman and CEO of Goddard Systems Dennis Maple said social emotional learning is the development of social interaction, understanding and managing emotions and practicing self-regulation skills.
He said as children soon head back to school, it is important for parents and teachers to establish communication to encourage behaviors that lead to positive social interactions.
“It allows you to become engaged in the learning that is taking place in the schools,” said Maple, “so that you as a parent – or as a guardian or whatever the case may be as a family unit – can reinforce what the children are learning in the school each and every day. And again this notion of social emotional intelligence is a really, really important thing to have.”
Maple said the survey also shows that parents place the safety and well-being of their children in close second place, with priority number three relating to academic growth.
Lauren Starnes, Ph.D – the senior vice president and chief academic officer for Goddard Systems – said she is pleased to see social emotional learning become what she calls a “primary focus across America.”
She added that this type of learning is the foundation people use to establish their social, intellectual and moral compass.
“These skills and this learning begins very early,” said Starnes. “It begins in very young children learning how to identify in themselves how they’re feeling and establishing emotional vocabulary to express that verbally.”
Starnes said social emotional development also includes identifying emotions in others and knowing how to respond with empathy.
She added that while this type of learning starts at a young age, it is something we all continue to develop and sharpen throughout adulthood.