• Early Childhood Education

    Why Teaching Emotional Competence to Young Children Matters So Much

    Dr. Donna Housman       

    In December, Nobel Laureate in Economics and University of Chicago Professor James Heckman released another report 
    evidencing that quality early childhood education provides persistent boosts in socio-emotional skills and that socio-emotional skills have greater effects on later-life outcomes than cognitive skills.


    “The evidence overwhelmingly points to the value of investing in quality early-childhood development from birth to age 5,” he summarized in February 24th edition of The Washington Post.


    Heckman’s findings add to a growing body of research that shows the importance of social and emotional learning in early childhood when children’s social and emotional experiences—supported and directed through a secure attachment with a caregiver—influence brain development and are central to learning. Put another way, to build the foundation for social and academic success, young children need to develop what many now refer to as emotional competence, which includes the ability to understand and regulate emotion. Emotional competence is closely related to self-regulation, defined as the ability to control and manage emotion, cognition, and behavior. In fact, emotion regulation is a core component of self-regulation.


    Beginnings School begin to…ECSEL™ approach promotes the development of emotional competence and the early skills associated with self-regulation. In fact, our evidence-based, prevention and intervention approach shows quantifiable improvements in young children’s skills and competencies associated with these critical constructs that are now known to have a long-term impact on lifelong success, health and well-being. It is now understood that children who learn social-emotional skills early in life tend to be more self-confident, trusting, empathic, intellectually inquisitive, competent in using language to communicate, and better capable of relating well with others.


    Over the course of 30 years, we at Beginnings have educated thousands of children and trained hundreds of teachers in promoting young children’s emotional competence on the path toward effective self-regulation.  We are so delighted with the now widespread recognition of just how critical these core competencies are.