© 2018 by Little Bear PlayCare LLC.

Social & Emotional Development

Providing meaningful opportunities

for children’s social-emotional growth

Little Bear PlayCare has created an environment that is nurturing and supportive that encourages positive interactions between children. The space is safe, stimulating, and developmentally appropriate. The high-quality environment provides opportunities for children and adults to interact and play together in a variety of settings, using many types of materials. We make all children and their families feel welcome, validate their thoughts and feelings, and provide them with numerous opportunities to practice and learn social skills.


Schedules and Routines:

  • The classroom schedule includes a predictable routine.

  • There are visual reminders of the daily classroom schedule and routines.

  • The classroom schedule includes a combination of small-group and large-group activities, both indoors and         outdoors.

  • Routines are arranged to promote interactions (e.g., children holding hands to walk outside, going to the bathroom or washing hands with “buddies,” sitting near friends during snack time, sharing cubbies and interacting at arrival and departure times).

  • The environment is safe and free of dangerous materials or potential for harm.

  • Each learning center is easy to enter and exit.

  • There are few transitions in the classroom schedule per day.

  • Routines are structured and predictable to promote children’s independence (children learn to independently   follow daily classroom routines).


Activities and Materials:

  •  Teachers rotate activities and materials to maintain children’s motivation and maximize engagement.

  •  Materials are developmentally appropriate and provide opportunities for learning.

  •  Learning centers and materials are clearly labeled.

  •  There are a variety of toys available that promote social interactions (e.g., cars and trucks, water toys, blocks, dress   up clothes and props) as well as toys that promote individual play (e.g., puzzles, writing materials).

  •  Activities and learning centers are arranged to promote interactions (i.e., two to four children per center, depending on the activity).

  • There are a sufficient number of materials for children to play with.

  • Materials are purposefully arranged to create opportunities for children to engage in social interactions with each other as well as with adults (e.g., smaller portions are provided for snack, so children engage in interactions to ask for more).


Responsive and Nurturing Adults:

  • Teachers support sharing and taking turns with materials.

  • Teachers encourage children to use their words and to talk with their friends to solve problems.

  • Teachers model developmentally appropriate language to help children deal with conflict or solve problems with each other.

  • Teachers use clear warnings and transition signals to help children efficiently transition between activities.

  • Teachers incorporate children’s interests and preferences into classroom experiences and routines.

  • Teachers purposefully address the needs of all children in the classroom (e.g., using social stories or scripts for children who may have a hard time sharing materials with peers, using an individual visual schedule for children who may need supports during transitions).

  • Teachers encourage children to express their thoughts and share their feelings about events or situations.

  • Teachers validate children’s feelings and thoughts.

What Does It Mean To Be 

A Responsive Preschool Teacher?

Positive Attitude

The teacher frequently smiles, laughs and provides positive statements to children. For example, a teacher may smile at children as they arrive in the morning and say, “I am so happy to see you this morning!” or the teacher may smile and laugh in response to a child telling a joke. Research suggests that teachers should provide five positive statements for every directive or negative statement. Negative or directive statements include demands (e.g., “Stop running on the playground”), nags (e.g., “I keep telling you to stop dripping water on the floor”), criticism (“Julian, you are not listening or doing what you are supposed to do”), or avoidance of a particular child (e.g., the teacher may see a child struggling with an activity and avoid the opportunity to help). Teachers should avoid and limit negative and directive statements. Positive statements can be verbal or nonverbal. Nonverbal positive statements can include following the child’s lead in play, hugs, smiles, specific praise and encouragement, listening to a child tell a story or talk about an experience, or giving positive comments to a child’s mom and dad upon arrival or departure.


The teacher is available and helps each child develop. For example, many preschool children are learning to share toys and take turns with peers. The teacher arranges multiple opportunities each day for children to practice taking turns during different classroom activities, such as circle, center and snack time or outdoor play. The teacher supports children in taking turns and sharing by modeling turn taking, physically supporting children, and providing encouragement and specific praise for sharing and taking turns.


The adult and child frequently share attention to objects, events and people in the environment and discuss them. For example, while playing on the playground, the teacher and child both observe a bird flying over their heads, or during snack time, a teacher and children may look and talk about a new poster on the wall.


The relationship between the teacher and child is reciprocal and rewarding for both parties. For example, the teacher and the child laugh together as they read a favorite silly book, or they enjoy taking turns singing silly songs while washing hands before snack time.

Response Quality

The teacher responds immediately and appropriately to match the child’s needs. For example, if a child in the classroom fell and is crying because of a scratch, the teacher calmly talks to the child until he or she is calmed down and helps the child bandage the affected area. If the child is excited because he or she has just mastered a new skill (such as riding a tricycle), the teacher responds with excitement as well.


The teacher arranges the environment to provide multiple opportunities for play and learning, as well as the engagement and encouragement of children. The teacher includes a range of developmentally appropriate materials in the classroom, intentionally uses opportunities to teach children to take turns engaging and playing with the materials, and monitors children to ensure they are engaged and learning form their environment. Additionally, the teacher acknowledges individual differences, preferences, and learning styles in children and is responsive to their needs.