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Informal Learning Environments: The Catalysers for Social and Emotional Development of Children

Indian Express released a recent article about Social and Emotional Learning and its importance for helping preschool children on several aspects such as: understand and manage their emotions, empathy, healthy relationships and other…

“There has been much emphasis given to the importance of children attending early childhood education centres as it prepares them in early literacy, numeracy, and cognitive skills, or School Readiness as some call it. However, we often lose sight that ‘Life Readiness’ is the ultimate goal of education; the process of building important everyday practical and socio-emotional skills that your child will leverage throughout their life should begin in preschool years”.

But the interesting question to address is how to trigger Social and Emotional Learning? According to the article, it can be developed by creating environments that encourage all students to interact with other children and also adults. Beyond classrooms, we are talking about nature, school playground, parks and “even museums being apt catalysts”.

Let’s revise some key ideas:

  • Why Playgrounds? These learning environments support free play “especially in groups where children learn important lessons in collaboration, conflict management, problem-solving”. At age of four, kids are beginning to develop awareness about other people's feelings and viewpoints that differ from their own. These areas encourages them to develop “this ability to see things from another perspective is essential for a child to make friends”.

  • Parks: In this type of learning scenario, kids acquire important social skills: “children learn many accepted social scripts, like inviting others to play with them, expressing their opinions or disagreements, and even accepting others’ viewpoints”.

  • Museums: these learning spaces are pretty dynamic and they engage adults and children of different ages and generations to establish conversations. “The interactions one can have at museums extends to listening to others’ perspectives, and even to the realm of wonderment and imagination. Such interactions stretch children’s thinking, offering opportunities to explain what they know, and to hear about other people’s ideas. These are important Social Emotional Learning experiences”.

The difference, for example, between playgrounds and museums is that adults, in the case of playgrounds, often are mere observers. On the other hand, museums are high engagement spaces.

At MKThink we are also looking at how learning environments can adapt to our evolving needs over time and how those spaces are designed considering factors such as wellbeing and safety.

To read more about the article discussed above:

#learningenvironments #learningspaces

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