The social devel­op­ment of preschool­ers is very impor­tant to par­ents and child care providers alike.  Care­tak­ers want to make sure that their preschool­ers devel­op social­ly and emo­tion­al­ly, learn to coop­er­ate with adults and chil­dren, and make friends.

Fos­ter­ing pro-social behav­ior in preschool is a key com­po­nent to help­ing chil­dren become social­ly com­pe­tent. In our Care Course Preschool­ers in Child Care, we look at many dif­fer­ent aspects of child­hood development.

Today we’ll take a look at social and emo­tion­al devel­op­ment in preschool and how young chil­dren learn to make friends.

Preschoolers and play

Preschool­ers do a great deal of play learn­ing, and so it isn’t sur­pris­ing that they learn social skills through their play. Preschool-age chil­dren tend to take part in two types of play. In the ear­ly years of preschool, chil­dren tend to pre­fer nonso­cial play. Though they are play­ing near or along­side oth­er chil­dren, they do not inter­act. Social play devel­ops in the lat­er preschool years, though it does not replace nonso­cial play. In all aspects of play, even inde­pen­dent and nonso­cial play, is enhanced by the pres­ence of oth­er chil­dren. You can watch chil­dren move through the stages, learn­ing and devel­op­ing their social skills and friend­ships as they go.

As chil­dren devel­op, so too do their social skills.

As three-year-olds, chil­dren begin to see sit­u­a­tions from anoth­er person’s point of view. Most Threes can play coop­er­a­tive­ly, at least for short peri­ods of time.

Friends only become more impor­tant by age four, when chil­dren are bet­ter able to take turns and share.

By the age of five, chil­dren have devel­oped enough social com­pe­tence to get along very well with friends. Five year olds are even more skilled in social inter­ac­tion, and have a great need to make friends.

Child­hood friends are an impor­tant part of the ear­ly child­hood expe­ri­ence. Through these friends and play­mates, preschool­ers learn a great deal about them­selves and the world around them. They learn to com­mu­ni­cate and to coop­er­ate, to resolve con­flicts and to con­trol their reactions.

In Preschool­ers in Child Care you will learn more about the social devel­op­ment of preschool­ers and how to devel­op proso­cial behav­ior. You will find games, strate­gies, and com­mu­ni­ca­tion tips to guide chil­dren along the social devel­op­ment process, and much more! If you are inter­est­ed in this course, or in find­ing a sim­i­lar Course­book, you can find all of our Care Cours­es list­ed on our web­site.

Please let us know how we can be of addi­tion­al assis­tance! Call us: 1–800-685‑7610, Mon­day through Fri­day, 9–5 ET, or email us days, evenings and week­ends: We’re here to help!

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