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Volume 4, Number 4 - October 2016

Social, emotional, and relationship development of young children

The development of emotional, social and relationship competencies are seen by many (Aubrey & Ward, 2013; Pahl & Barrett, 2007) as key development areas for children in early years. The age range that is seen as crucial varies however, and where and how these competencies can and should be developed is also contested (Macvarish, Lee & Lowe, 2014). Pahl and Barrett (2007) state that early childhood education (ECE) is often seen as a time that should prepare young children for their later school success, and parents, politicians and sometimes even ECE educators see this as a call to focus on academic skills and intelligence development. Therefore, the arguably more important aspects of emotional and social wellbeing and competencies in a holistic educational understanding might not get the attention they should. Pahl and Barrett argue for the importance of social-emotional competence for school success as more important than early academic achievements. Heckman (2007) supports this notion, stating that

An important lesson to draw from the entire literature on successful early intervention is that it is the social skills and motivation of the child that are more easily altered – not IQ. These social and emotional skills affect performance in school and in the workplace. We too often have a bias toward believing that only cognitive skills are of fundamental importance to success in life. (Heckman, 2000, p. 7, as cited in Pahl & Barrett, 2007, p. 82)


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