There has been an increasing focus on the overall developmental process of children in early childhood education. At this stage, the child is known to learn a lot that contributes to the cumulative attributes of the future adult. Specifically, early childhood education is assumed to contribute in a greater way to the child’s emotional development. This research aims at exploring the impact of early childhood education on the emotional development of the respective children. The study employed an observational cross-sectional approach where the variables were observed without being manipulated. Stratified and simple random sampling methods were used to obtain the data which was finally analyzed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences Version 21.0 along with the Chi-square test. The study revealed that early childhood education impacts the overall child’s emotional development. This calls for the adoption of practices that promote positive growth in the child’s emotional status.
Early childhood education is a subfield of educational philosophy that deals with the formal and informal training of young children from birth to age eight. It places a strong emphasis on the essential developmental milestones, abilities, and ideas that children acquire at this time in their lives, from social and emotional skills to the emergence of reading, numeracy, and critical thinking. The need of educating students to enhance their social and emotional abilities is now widely acknowledged (Hojnoski & Missall, 2020). Understanding that schools are social settings and learning is a social process has led to the realization that emotions can support pro-social conduct and learning. The interactions a person has with others, their level of self-control, and their drive and tenacity while engaging in an activity all contribute to their social and emotional growth.
Children’s social and emotional growth is influenced by how they feel about themselves such as being self-assured, always scared, afraid of being wrong, and how they act (fighting constantly, getting easily upset, able to handle conflict) and relating to others, particularly those who are important to them, such as parents, teachers, and friends. The emergence of emotional self-regulation, empathy, efficient communication, beneficial social engagement, and social independence are all aspects of social-emotional development (Goldschmidt & Pedro, 2019). The three basic components of social-emotional development are typically attachment, initiative, and self-control, sometimes known as self-regulation. The initiative is characterized as a psychological trait that motivates someone to pursue a particular objective. Self-regulation is the process by which an individual manages their actions using their internal executive processes. The term attachment refers to an intense and enduring emotional relationship that unites two people over time and space.
The chance to create the groundwork for healthy development can only be done during the formative years of life. It is a moment of both enormous vulnerability and immense growth. The first five years of a child’s existence have a significant impact on their social and emotional development, according to early childhood research (Felfe & Lalive, 2018). Negative early experiences can harm a child’s mental health and hinder their development in terms of cognition, conduct, and social-emotional skills. It is therefore important to do thorough research on how early childhood education affects children’s emotional development and establish how the process can be improved to avoid problems related to emotional damage.
The research design used was an observational cross-sectional approach, to study the impact of early childhood education on children’s emotional development. A cross-sectional study is a style of research design in which information is gathered from a large number of individuals all at once. The sample of the study included preschool children aged three to eight years and their respective teachers. Data was collected from the two groups by use of observation and questionnaires respectively. Different strata of preschool children were selected using stratified random sampling. This was followed by a simple random sampling of the children from the various strata. Statistical Package for Social Sciences Version 21.0 was used for data analysis and evaluation, along with the Chi-square test.
The data obtained was recorded mainly in words and descriptive analyses were performed to analyze it. A chi-square test of independence was performed to ascertain whether there was an association between the two categorical variables namely, ECE and emotional development. Based on the statistical data obtained from the different tests, it was evident that early childhood education impacts the child’s emotional development. Among the factors that contributed to the overall emotional development are the teachers, school environment, peers, and overall learning experiences. Depending on how the mentioned factors are administered, they can positively or negatively affect the child’s emotional development.
Healthy relationships with family members and other caregivers, especially those who offer care in early learning environments, are the foundation of healthy social and emotional development. In childcare and preschool settings, early care and education professionals play a crucial role in fostering social and emotional growth and ensuring that the youngest students are prepared for school and on the road to success (Hojnoski & Missall, 2020). Children’s brains are rapidly developing during the first few years of life, as is their ability to pick up important social and emotional skills. Early childhood mental health and social and emotional development both refer to children’s developing ability to experience, control and express a variety of emotions (Felfe & Lalive, 2018). In addition, it refers to their capacity to actively explore their surroundings and learn as well as form intimate, fulfilling connections with both adults and children.
The interactions that children have with their caregivers, parents, siblings, babysitters, and teachers as well as their surroundings, make up their early experiences. Early experiences can either establish a strong or weak foundation that will affect how children react and respond to the environment around them for the rest of their lives because of how quickly the brain develops in early childhood. The majority of newborns and young children have predictable social and emotional development (Goldschmidt & Pedro, 2019). They learn to form close bonds with their caretakers, calm down on their own when unhappy, share and play with others, and listen to and follow instructions. All of these indicators point to early social and emotional development that was beneficial.
Children who encounter disturbances in their social and emotional development and subsequent mental health issues are more likely to be exposed to biological, relationship-based, or environmental risk factors. For instance, children who have experienced abuse, neglect, or other types of trauma frequently react biologically by having high amounts of cortisol, a stress hormone that the body secretes to deal with frightening circumstances. Early childhood high-stress experiences can permanently harm the growing brain and other bodily systems, including the developing nervous system (Hojnoski & Missall, 2020). Children at risk of less favorable social, emotional, and physical development are those who encounter toxic stress, which is defined as persistent activation of the stress response systems in the absence of a calming and supportive caregiver. They run the danger of developing severe mental health issues as children and adults.
Teachers can support children’s emotional development by creating a stimulating setting full of materials, building trustworthy relationships and carrying out intentional instruction which encourage social connections. By establishing trusting relationships, young children can grow and learn in the context of relationships. For kids to develop to their full potential, a teacher-student connection built on trust and compassion is crucial (Felfe & Lalive, 2018). In comparison to their peers who don’t have such interactions, children who have trusting relationships with their teachers are typically more likely to ask questions, solve issues, try new things, and voice their thoughts. When teachers purposefully create close, dependable bonds with their students, it benefits the students in social, emotional, and academic ways (Felfe & Lalive, 2018). However, acquiring a child’s trust is not as easy as being friendly and interesting. However, by constantly showing warmth, affection, respect, and care to all of the kids, teachers may build trustworthy connections with them.
Through intentional teaching of social and emotional skills, teachers aid young children in the development of their social and emotional competencies. Teachers can actively promote the social and emotional well-being of their students by using kid-friendly literature, creating engaging activities, providing on-the-spot coaching, praising students effectively, setting good examples, and giving cues (Goldschmidt & Pedro, 2019). During social and guided play children acquire self-regulation, as they adhere to rules and pay attention while feeling emotions like anticipation or irritation. Children learn how to make and adjust rules through play, as well as when to take the lead and when to follow. Children can learn to connect their acts with the results by employing the idea that all behavior has consequences to control their behavior.
Active, empathic listening is the most effective kid-guiding tool teachers as parents have. Teachers must pay attention and show empathy to young children who are experiencing intense emotions. This is how they interact with young children in a proactive, empathic manner. First, they should pay attention to when kids are displaying strong emotions like annoyance, rage, enthusiasm, grief, or elation (Hojnoski & Missall, 2020). The youngsters should be approached closely by bringing the teacher’s body to their level. This makes them feel warmth and affection hence boosting their overall esteem. To demonstrate that the teacher is paying attention to the youngster, making eye contact and using a light touch when appropriate is necessary. In language that the child can understand, repeat back what you hear the child saying through words and actions.
Improving the quality of student-teacher relationships in the school setting and consciously cultivating children’s emotional intelligence is an effective way to promote the development of their capacity for empathy. Positive student-teacher relationships can enhance school-age children’s emotional intelligence and further promote the development of empathy. Teachers can consciously educate and improve these abilities using evidence-based methods for modeling, reinforcing, and teaching good conduct. Youngsters who learn to avoid and resolve conflicts, share and take turns, and express their emotions in healthy ways are happy, engaged children, as shown in the majority of preschool classrooms.
Felfe, C., & Lalive, R. (2018). Does early child care affect children’s development? Journal of Public Economics, 159, 33–53. Web.
Goldschmidt, T., & Pedro, A. (2019). Early childhood socio-emotional development indicators: Pre-school teachers’ perceptions. Journal of Psychology in Africa, 29(5), 474–479. Web.
Hojnoski, R. L., & Missall, K. N. (2020). Considerations and methods in assessing early learning and social–emotional development in young children. Web.