As children reach milestones in early childhood development, one of the most important aspects is emotional development. Children go through six different stages of emotional developmental, and each of these stages involves pivotal developmental stages. A therapeutic preschool program that provides additional support with significant developmental skills may also emphasize the importance of emotional development.
The six stages of emotional development:
- Self-regulation and interest in the world: When a child exhibits self-regulation skills, they are able to control their behaviors and emotions. This skill may be challenging for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), developmental delays, or sensory processing issues. When a child shows an interest in the world, they use sensory input to understand the world around them.
- Engaging and relating: In this stage of emotional development, children engage and build relationships with their parents, primary caregivers, teachers in their therapeutic preschool program, etc.
- Intentionality and two-way communication: When children build this skill, they learn to communicate for a purpose (e.g. to get food when they are hungry) and learn to communicate using a “circle of communication” (back-and-forth). A therapeutic preschool program can encourage these skills by having teachers engage students and facilitating interactions between children.
- Social problem-solving, mood regulation, and formation of a sense of self: There are many different (a bit more complicated) skills involved in this step, many of which can be targeted in a therapeutic preschool program.
- Creating symbols and using words and ideas: In this step, children start to use language to communicate with others. Therapeutic preschool programs that emphasize speech and language will help children to use expressive language.
- Emotional thinking, logic, and a sense of reality: In this step, children begin to learn basic ideas about logic and reality, which therapeutic preschool programs can work on during class.
There are various ways that parents and therapeutic preschool programs can work with children to improve their emotional development.
- Love and encouragement: This may seem obvious, however, it is necessary for children to receive love and encouragement from their parents and teachers in a therapeutic preschool program, in order to develop emotionally and form a sense of self-esteem.
- Routines: Many therapeutic preschool programs establish a set daily routine, in order to provide children with a sense of security. This is especially important for children with autism, as they often benefit from being able to anticipate routines and structure.
- Interacting with classmates: In a therapeutic preschool program, children can make great gains in emotional (and social) development by interacting with their classmates through activities, such as circle time or free play. This can be extremely helpful for children on the autism spectrum who may struggle with social interactions.
Do you think your child could benefit from developing social and emotional skills in a therapeutic preschool program? Contact CST Academy at 773-620-7800 to learn more about our therapeutic preschool program. We provide a wide range of services for children, including ABA therapy, occupational therapy, feeding therapy, and speech therapy.