I am using the term Emotional Stability as a way to clarify the difference with a well used early learning term and one that I have been consistently observing for the past twenty years. Emotional stability is not the same as the well used term social /emotional development. Emotional stability referrers to how a child behaves and what the child discusses with his/ her family in regards to their time at preschool. When a child shows emotional stability in a preschool environment that child’s body language shows their happiness and comfort level. That child also verbally expresses the joy they feel each time they see their friends, the types of play they engage in and even if they like their teacher. As the parent or caregiver you may observe how respectful and kind your child is when interacting with his/ her friends in their learning environment. You may see how they express their happiness and the types of play they engage in when they are emotionally stable in that environment. You may also notice your child asking you when they get to go to school again. These are all but not limited signs of a child happy and satisfied with their first school experience. These are also signs that you have made the right decision with the early learning school you chose for your child.
When a child is not emotionally stable in their early learning environment he/ she will show aspects of anxiety, their body language will indicate a consistent reluctance to going to that environment and they will not verbalize very many positive aspects of their experience. In fact they will most likely complain about the children they do not get along with and will be angry about things not going there way. Their anger also may be a sign that they miss you, their parent or primary caregiver and they are not as comfortable at their early learning school as they are with you at home. The child simply may not be ready to be away from home and in a larger group setting just yet. He/she may need to take smaller steps like joining small classes like gym, music, art, dance etc. before enrolling in an early learning preschool setting. Sometimes with a larger group atmosphere over stimulation can cause the child to not enjoy the experience and to feel uncomfortable and overwhelmed.
If your child is exhibiting a strong reluctance to going to preschool you may consider observing their body language while they are at school and really taking a moment to listen to what they are telling you about their experiences. From there you can decide to give your child more time to adjust to the new experience or you can step back and allow them to engage in smaller group play programs that only run one to three days a week. Also, when you visit your child’s preschool please take the time to assess how you feel about the environment. Does the preschool you have enrolled your child in feel warm, friendly, and do you observe the needs of the children being met in that environment? I encourage all parents to take the time to research and decide on the type of early learning environment you want your child to experience. Remember that any form of preschool whether it be play-based or academic is your child’s very first school experience. It is not a bad reflection on your ability to choose a good preschool program if your child is not comfortable there. Remember that we are all different and have diverse needs. Sometimes your child’s personality is what determines whether a learning environment is right for him/ her. Yes it is not their decision to enroll, it is yours, but you know your child and it is okay if you keep looking till you find the right fit.
Please be aware that these are simply my own observations from being an early learning Teacher for many years and for having a keen interest in what I call emotional stability in relation to early learning environments. There are many more points I chose not to include in this post. So please know there is much more to this topic than this one simple post.
What are your opinions on emotional stability in early learning environments and what have you witnessed with your own children’s preschool experiences? Please share! 🙂
* (Special Note: The emotional stability I am referring to is not emotional well being that comes from being raised in a warm loving family, that is a separate issue and I am not addressing that topic in this blog post.)
Heidi, The Marigold School of Early Learning