One of my passions as a youth services librarian is promoting early literacy skills (the skills a child needs in order to read successfully) at my storytimes. The main reason we promote these skills is to help get children ready for kindergarten and support their parents in this endeavor. However, literacy is not the only skill a child needs in order to find success in the kindergarten classroom.

Children entering kindergarten are actually assessed in six different areas at the beginning of the school year. The characteristics that are assessed are: social-emotional, physical, language, cognitive, literacy and mathematics. Focusing on social and emotional skills is important for a parent to do and just like literacy, it starts at birth. Research has shown that social and emotional development has a correlation with school success. By third grade, kids who are not socially and emotionally ready in Kindergarten are at greater risk of being retained by a grade and suspended or expelled.

What can you do to cultivate your child's social and emotional development? Since you are your child's first teacher, The Urban Child Institute lists five ways you as a parent can model these skills for your child:

  1. Self-Awareness
  2. Self-Management
  3. Social Awareness
  4. Relationship Skills
  5. Responsible Decision Making

There are specific ways you can help your child develop their social and emotional skills depending on their age. The most important thing you can do to develop these skills is to foster a deep, loving relationship with your child based on trust. From there you can continue to build on this by establishing a daily routine for your child, play turn-taking games and using language to identify and define feelings. These are just a few of the things you can do. Books and music are another way to support the development of these important skills. The booklist below highlights excellent books that support social and emotional growth in children. They can all be found at the Kitsap Regional Library.

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