“Kind Hands, Kind Face”: An analysis of how pre-school practitioners use children’s group behaviour to extend their social and emotional learning
Social and emotional competence relates to children’s ability to process and understand their experiences and their ability to utilise this throughout their lives. Rooted in theories of multiple intelligence, social and emotional competence is said to reach far beyond measures of attainment in understanding children’s wellbeing. This study aimed to explore how social and emotional learning (SEL) develops at pre-school stage, considering practitioner involvement in planned and naturally occurring learning. The triangulated qualitative methodologies involved observations, interviews, and focus groups with an identified focus on learning strategies used by the adults in the setting. Thus the intention was to research practitioner views of SEL, observe interventions used to develop SEL in children, and understand children’s experiences through observing them in social learning situations. The research observes a fundamentally consistent ethos encompassing expectations of staff about children, and concludes with an unexpected finding; that having processed such consistent messages, children themselves began to police their own environment.