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​​​​​Social-emotional development is a separate domain in the preschool learning foundations and encompasses three strands: self, social interaction, and relationships. In kindergarten, these topics are in the mental, emotional, and social health content area. The importance of social-emotional development in Transition Kindergarten cannot be over emphasized. School readiness consists of social-emotional competencies as well as other cognitive and motivational competencies required for success in school. (CDE 2008, 1) 

​Appropriately, much of TK instruction and learning experiences are centered on providing children with opportunities to develop their social-emotional skills. Play and student-initiated activities are the primary ways for children to learn to express their thoughts and feelings, respond to others, cooperate and problem solve with classmates, become more responsible, interact with adults, and develop friendships with peers. 

Central to children’s social-emotional development are caring relationships at school, as well as at home. Children must feel welcome and safe at school in order to learn. A welcoming and safe school environment starts with the teacher but extends to every adult on the school site (e.g., principal, administrative assistant, noon duty supervisors, custodians, family, and community volunteers). Respecting children, valuing the knowledge they bring to school, and celebrating their diversity and uniqueness create a learning environment in which children can grow and thrive. Warmly greeting children (and their families, guardians, and caretakers) each day, hanging children’s art on the walls, adding student-made books to the reading area, actively using a range of culturally relevant and sustaining literature and other resources, and listening to and following children’s suggestions for problem solving and learning activities can also foster a positive learning environment. ​

The Orange County Department of Education does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness or completeness of this outside information. Further, the inclusion of links to particular items in hypertext are not intended to reflect their importance, nor is it intended to endorse any views expressed or products or services offered on these outside sites, or the organizations sponsoring the sites.​​​​

Classroom Activities

​Classroom Space
  • Play-based, inquiry-based activities that reflect curiosity and interests.
  • Provide blocks and manipulatives, science, art, dramatic play, outside climbing, drawing and writing, sand-and-water activity, puppets, puzzles, toy cars.
  • Classroom spaces: large and small group learning areas, quiet reading places, outdoor play area.
  • Model behavioral expectations; recognize and praise children when they demonstrate cooperation and consideration by describing specific behaviors.
  • Recognize cultural and religious holidays and festivals: special foods, songs, stories, music, customs, language. 
  • Use culturally and linguistically relevant songs, including songs in the primary languages and home dialects (e.g., African American English) of the children promote healthy relationships and a positive sense of self and of one’s community.​


​Partnering with the Family​​

  • Cultivate the connection between each TK child’s family, guardian, or caretaker and the school. 
  • Greet the children’s adult family members when they drop off and pick up their child. 
  • Make a point​ of telling family members about their child’s successes and growth, not just their behavioral issues. 
  • Focus on the child’s strengths. Find out what the parent’s, guardian’s, or caretaker’s educational goals are for their child. 
  • Call or otherwise contact parents, guardians, or caretakers to share good news, such as when their child displays appropriate problem-solving skills, helps a classmate, or makes academic progress. 
  • Invite them to volunteer in the classroom, if their schedule permits. 
  • Ask adult family members to be a guest story teller or reader for the day to share a favorite or traditional food or tell a story in their language from their childhood or culture. 
  • Encourage adult family members to read and sing with their child every day and to talk with their child about what happens at school. 
  • Produce a TK class newsletter with photos of children (with parent, guardian, or caretaker permission) and their drawings, to keep them informed about what their child is learning.

​​Partnering with your School​​​

  • The physical school site and all the adults at the site contribute to TK children’s sense of wellbeing. Acquaint children with school personnel through walks around the school to the principal’s office, the “big kids” playground, the school nurse’s office, and the cafeteria, including the kitchen or other sections that children do not usually have access to. 
  • Make frequent visits to the school library/media center. 
  • Invite the principal, teacher librarian, school nurse, school administrative assistant, cafeteria staff, noon duty supervisor, expanded learning teachers and directors, and other adults at the school to the TK classroom to read a story, teach a song, or watch children tell a story, sing, or perform a skit. ​

​​Partnering with your Community​​

  • In addition to inviting guest speakers from community health and safety organizations, help children connect their school to their neighborhood. 
  • After a short walk around the school, children draw maps or pictures of the neighborhood housing and other buildings, play spaces, and the people they see and then tell about what they have drawn. 
  • During this conversation, prompt children to talk about the people they see on their way to and from school and ask questions to draw out children’s ideas about where in the neighborhood people may be going.​
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