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social-emotional curriculum is an integral component of the preschool
program. Teachers create an environment that supports the social and
emotional growth of each child. The child is encouraged to trust her
teachers and her peers while at the same time become self-reliant and
autonomous. She is given opportunities to speak out and express
herself in socially acceptable ways. The teachers value and support
her ideas and feelings. During the course of her preschool and
kindergarten time, the child grows in her social and emotional
As a beginning preschooler, the child learns to make choices for
herself and learns ways to become part of a group. Separation from
her parents is a significant element in gaining independence. The
teachers become an important link in this transition away from home
and parents as the child develops trust in adults other than her
primary caregivers. As the child becomes increasingly independent,
she is also learning the rules, routines, and expectations of the
classroom. This includes waiting her turn, knowing the daily schedule,
sitting in circle, raising her hand to speak, and walking in line.
She begins to discover that there are natural and logical consequences
if these expectations are not met.
The child also learns to take care of herself and the environment
around her. Montessori believed that when given the proper models and
the correct tools, every child could and should do for herself all that
she is capable of doing. In the classroom, this manifests into being
responsible for self-care, such as hand washing and dressing oneself,
and care of the environment, such as sponging her table, mopping,
sweeping, watering plants, and mirror washing. The child is also
expected to exhibit "grace and courtesy." For example, she is
encouraged to push in her chair when getting up from her table, walk
while inside the classroom, put materials away when finished working
with them, and say please and thank you when appropriate.
Making friends is an important social skill that the child begins to
learn in preschool and all throughout her life. She learns how to
share materials and practice give and take. When there is a conflict
with a peer, she is given the tools to resolve those conflicts, at
first with the guidance of a teacher and later, without the intervention
of an adult. The teachers use a variety of methods such as role-playing
and puppets to help the child identify the problem and find a solution
that satisfies all involved. As she becomes an older preschooler and
kindergartener, she learns the language of inclusion, which consists of
inviting someone to play, asserting her interest in joining a group,
and including others in a group game. She is also provided with many
occasions to express her feelings and emotions. Teachers talk about
their own feelings, read books about emotions, and model vocabulary for
expressing them. In turn, the child learns to read facial and body
expressions, talks about her feelings in terms of her own experiences
and may make a book of feelings.
An essential aspect of the social-emotional curriculum is the
acknowledgement of the child's need for control and the means that
are given to her to express that need appropriately. She is learning
skills and feeling competent when she is successful with the materials
and activities. She takes various roles as both the leader and follower
in games and play. The teacher also provides various jobs in the
classroom to give the child opportunities to feel powerful.
As the child becomes proficient and confident in her skills and abilities,
she becomes a leader to her peers and younger classmates. She models
appropriate classroom behavior and teaches younger children various
classroom activities. By becoming a responsible member of the community,
she develops empathy, demonstrates caring behavior for others, and
mediates in her peer's conflicts.
The social-emotional curriculum is a pervasive and underlying theme of
the preschool program. The child develops a sense of trust and
initiative within the context of her relationship with her teachers.
Additionally, the teachers offer her activities that support her
self-esteem and respect for others.