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

Informed Learning Environments, MKThink

Indian Express released a recent article about Social and Emotional Learning and its importance for helping preschool children understand and manage their emotions, empathy, healthy relationships, and more.

“There has been much emphasis given to the importance of children attending early childhood education centers 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 is, how do you trigger social and emotional learning? According to the article, the answer is creating environments that encourage all students to interact with other children and adults. Beyond classrooms, this includes nature, school playgrounds, 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 four, kids begin to develop awareness about other people's feelings and viewpoints that differ from their own. These interactive areas encourage them to develop the "ability to see things from another perspective, which is essential for a child to make friends."

  • Parks: In this learning scenario, kids acquire necessary 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 dynamic and engage adults and children of different ages and generations to establish conversations. "The interactions one can have at museums extend to listening to others' perspectives and even to 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, adults are mere observers, while museums are high-engagement spaces.

At MKThink, we also look at how learning environments can adapt to our evolving needs over time and how those spaces are designed considering factors such as well-being and safety.

To read more about the article discussed above click here.


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