Social interaction is a big part of preschool development and children’s learning in Phoenix, AZ. Whether your children are learning at home, a daycare or in a hybrid environment, social and emotional learning (SEL) helps foster a sense of community and safety for children. Although previous research has related SEL to “soft skills,” recent studies have shown it’s also key in helping children succeed academically in every subject. Experts suggest making sure children get SEL instruction even when the class can’t be together in person.
Here are some of the ways you can promote social interaction in preschool:
- Small groups: Small groups are key to getting children to relate to one another. Limit each group to three or four children, and take on a “coaching role.” If you’re in person, you can get down on their level and guide the conversation or play, showing them how to play games like “restaurant” or “shopping.” As they get the hang of interacting with each other, you can sit back and let them take over. For in-person environments, you can also physically create small group settings—limit materials so children have to share, create nooks for reading or playing and break up the space visually with bookshelves or storage structures. The kids will naturally gravitate toward those nooks, which can only fit a few students at a time.
- Collaborative tasks: Assign students to perform collaborative tasks, like handing out papers and pencils together, getting out art supplies or cleaning up after messes. This not only teaches them to work together to accomplish a task—a major life skill—but it also encourages conversation.
- Encourage social interaction between children: Speaking of conversation, teachers and caretakers can encourage social interaction by promoting student-to-student conversations. Most children will want to talk to their teacher, so make it a point to include other kids in the conversation, and fade out as they interact together. For example, if one child is talking about what they did that weekend, you can include them in the conversation by suggesting the first child ask another what they did over the past couple of days. As they begin to include each other, contribute less to the conversation.
- Have kids roleplay social situations: Kids love to pretend, but young ones can have a hard time getting into the idea. Pick a theme like “doctor’s office” or “school” and give them examples about what sort of social interactions would be appropriate. For example, if you’re playing “restaurant,” teach the customer to ask, “May I have a menu, please?” or say, “I would like the grilled cheese, please.” Ask the kids what they think the servers and cooks would do or say.
- SEL play: Finally, you can have children play socially distant SEL games like Simon Says, clapping games, describing or drawing their feelings and more. Focus on interpersonal interaction, even from a distance.
For more information about Magical Star Preschool’s commitment to preschool-age child development in Phoenix, AZ, please reach out to us today.