Beginnings School and Child Development Center is steeped in the knowledge that emotional intelligence matters. A large body of research has shown that developing the skills associated with emotional intelligence can have a profound impact on academic, career and overall life success. Moreover, researchers in the field of child development and neuroscience have shown that a critical period of learning occurs during a child’s first three years and that those early years build the foundation for emotional intelligence—namely the ability to recognize, understand, constructively express, and regulate emotion.
Based on my decades’ long experience as a psychologist, educator, and parent, I developed the emotional, cognitive and social early learning approach, begin to…ECSEL that we teach here at Beginnings. This approach is informed by a significant body of neuroscientific research that shows that a child’s brain development is heavily dependent on a child’s early experiences. Given that the social-emotional and cognitive neurocircuitry is interrelated, the more we strengthen a young child’s social-emotional skills, the more we strengthen cognition and learning.
The begin to…ECSEL approach is predicated on the knowledge that a child develops in the context of a relationship. In the child’s early years, the primary caregivers (the parent and other significant adults in a young’s child’s life) are key to strengthening a child’s emotional, cognitive and social skills. Sensitive, attuned, and empathic caregivers can help children learn to identify, understand, constructively express, and regulate emotion, and through this process they can begin to help children develop associated competencies such as self-regulation and executive function skills so critical to children’s long-term success.
Begin to…ECSEL's uniqueness is in laying the foundation for this fundamental growth from birth. Our soon-to-be-published study evidences that after only one year in our program, children showed significant improvement in empathy, self-regulation, and the social and emotional skills that undergird emotional intelligence. The students also dramatically outperformed national norms on these key constructs.
At Beginnings, you can see our approach in practice. You also can learn more about the theoretical underpinnings of our approach in the article I wrote for The International Journal of Childcare and Education Policy.