CHILDREN’S SOCIO-EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT: PROMOTING SCHOOL READINESS THROUGH THE PRE-SCHOOL
One of the objectives of preschool education in Nigeria as stated in the National Policy on Education is smooth transition from home to school, that is, school readiness. This involves socio-emotional development in addition to cognitive development. Children whose socio-emotional development is hampered have been reported to be disadvantaged educationally right from elementary school to the later years in career. This paper therefore examined the role of the preschool in making children ready for school through the promotion of their socio-emotional development. Recommendations are also made to policy makers as well as classroom teachers.
Key words: School readiness, Preschool, Socio-emotional development, Children.
For young children, doing well in school means being ready to learn. Being ready is much more than knowing the alphabets and figures. Readiness, according to Abell and Azria (2008), requires physical, language, self-control and social skills as well as the desire to learn. School readiness enables the child to have a smooth transition from home to school. There is no other place where the child is expected to acquire school readiness than the preschool. More so since the National Policy on Education (FME, 2004) stipulates school readiness, that is, smooth transition from home to school, as one of the objectives of preschool education in Nigeria.
Unfortunately, teachers report that more than half of their students come to school unprepared for learning academic subjects (Rimm-Kaufman, Pianta & Cox, 2000). This may be due to the fact that preschool teachers pay more attention to children’s cognitive development than their social-emotional development. However, researchers such as Raver (2008) as well as Abell & Azria (2008) have reported that children’s school readiness is promoted when their social-emotional development is enhanced. This paper therefore examines how the preschool can promote children’s school readiness by enhancing their social and emotional development.
What is school readiness?
High (2008), quoting the US National Education Goals Panel, defined readiness as follows: • Physical well-being and motor development, including health status, growth, and disability; • Social and emotional development, including turn-taking, cooperation, empathy, and the ability to express one’s own emotions; • Approaches to learning, including enthusiasm, curiosity, temperament, culture, and values; • Language development, including listening, speaking, and vocabulary, as well as literacy skills, including print awareness, story sense, and writing and drawing processes; and • General knowledge and cognition, including sound-letter association, spatial relations, and number concepts.
Existing literature reports that the level of school readiness among children is closely linked to performance and adjustment to school later on. For instance, children with lower levels of school readiness at school entry are more likely to experience difficulty in school, as well as problems related to behavior and social skills (Connell & Prinz, 2002; Lemelin & Boivin, 2007). They enter kindergarten unable to learn because they cannot pay attention, remember information on purpose or function properly in a school environment (Bronson. 2000). The result is growing numbers of children who are difficult to manage in the classroom (Ravner & Knitzer, 2002). These children are aggressive in the classroom and on the playground, and unable to follow instruction. Teachers, as a result, spend the time they ought to devote to teaching monitoring these children (Wallis. 2003). More efforts, therefore ought to be geared towards helping children to be ready for learning by the time they are leaving the preschool. This would enable them to adjust better to formal school setting, learn more...
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