Four FREE Resources for Communities and Families with Young Children

Promoting Social and Emotional Development



By Kara Dukakis, Libby Doggett, and Shantel E. Meek

 All children are born with the need and desire to connect with those around them. Neuroscience tells us that brain development unfolds rapidly in the first three years of life, and that social and emotional development begins in the earliest days of life. When children feel secure in their relationships and have their needs met in responsive and consistent ways, they begin forming a strong social and emotional foundation. They begin to learn to pay attention, regulate their emotions and behavior, express feelings, and overcome challenges successfully. All of these skills contribute to healthy social and emotional development.

The way in which children experience and manage their feelings and emotions depends a great deal on the relationship with their primary caregiver(s) and other important adults in their lives. The environments where children spend their time – whether at home or in an early learning setting – also affect children’s social and emotional development. Social and emotional development involves several inter-related areas, including social interaction, emotional awareness, and self-regulation.[1]

Social and emotional and cognitive development are interwoven from birth and unfold together. Unsurprisingly, social and emotional development is also closely intertwined with academic success. Learning- especially in the earliest years of life- is inherently a social process. Children learn through and with the adults in their lives. A large body of research shows that children with a strong social and emotional foundation demonstrate stronger academic achievement, are more likely to graduate high school, go to college, and fare better on overall wellness and other positive long-term outcomes.[2] Positive social and emotional development carries important benefits for all children, including young children with developmental delays or disabilities.

Many parents and caregivers, as well as teachers and early learning providers, are eager for information and resources on how to connect with babies and toddlers, manage young children’s behavior,[3] and help children develop relationships, regulate their behavior and emotions, and talk about their feelings. When the adults in children’s lives have appropriate expectations of children’s development at different ages, they have greater success – and much less frustration – with young children.

Building on prior successful partnerships to promote early brain and language development and early STEM education, today, the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services are joining with Too Small to Fail to release a Fostering Healthy Social and Emotional Development in Young Children Toolkit on social and emotional development. All of the resources feature examples of simple actions to take, some of which caregivers might be doing already, such as maintaining consistent routines for young children.

This set of resources on healthy social and emotional development includes:

Every day, families and educators have opportunities to nurture children’s social and emotional, development through everyday interactions and easy-to-implement activities, such as those provided in the Toolkit. If we all provide supports for our children early in life, they will have the foundation needed to benefit for a lifetime.

Kara Dukakis is Director of Too Small to Fail, a joint initiative of the Clinton Foundation and The Opportunity Institute

 Libby Doggett is Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Early Learning, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education at the U.S. Department of Education

 Shantel E. Meek is Senior Policy Advisor for Early Childhood Development, Administration for Children and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

[1] Social interaction focuses on the relationships we share with others, including relationships with adults and peers; emotional awareness includes the ability to recognize and understand our own feelings and actions and those of other people, and how our own feelings and actions affect ourselves and others; and self-regulation is the ability to express thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in socially appropriate ways.

[2] Jones, Damon E., Mark Greenberg, and Max Crowley. (2015). Early social-emotional functioning and public health: The relationship between kindergarten social competence and future wellness. American Journal Public Health, 105(11), 2283–2290.

[3] Zero to Three, “Tuning In National Parent Survey” (2016).

Looking for Different Ways to Increase Family Engagement?

AVANCE was founded by a Gloria Rodriguez, a schoolteacher in San Antonio, in 1973.  Concerned by the school dropout rates and low educational attainment of Latino children, Gloria went knocking door to door in Mirabel, one of the city’s most impoverished Section 8 housing complexes, asking parents, “Do you love your children?” The response was overwhelming.  These parents were the first participants in the Parent-Child Education Program, and with them she started AVANCE.


Interested in learning more about Avance?

Come hear Marie Felan, Executive Director from Avance, speak at our next Early Childhood Leader’s Network Meeting on how AVANCE provides dual-generational services to low income families with a focus on enhancing parenting skills, promoting long-term educational success for children, and breaking the family’s trans-generational cycle of poverty.

Early Childhood Leaders Network – Jan. 26th, 2017 (SP1734473)  FREE

 The above training’s support the Family Engagement Plan under House Bill 4.





Together We Are Better: A Family Engagement Conference

Is it time to help your parent leaders feel informed, inspired, and empowered?

This is a one day workshop for families, educators and administrators that will offer a range of learning opportunities through general and breakout sessions, such as:

  • General parenting
  • College readiness
  • Special Education
  • Safety/Health/Behavior
  • Curriculum/Assessment

Sessions will be held in Spanish and English, lunch is provided, and limited childcare will be available to make your experience the best it can be.

January 28, 2017

8:30 – 4:00

ESC Region 13

Register at Workshop ID SP1734603

Please contact Sherry DiMarco at 512-919-5357 or for more information.


Happy New Year!

The Early Childhood Team hopes you had a very restful vacation and that 2017 is off to a great start!

Attached is a link to our most updated 2017 Spring Trainings.

New Trainings feature:

A closer look at Math and Science through a Child’s Eye– Pre-K students are naturally enthusiastic about Math and Science.  Learn new ways to foster their natural curiosity to explore the world around them. Each 3 hour training will include a small Make ‘N’ Take of instructional activities that could be utilized during small group or center time. These series of math and science trainings have been aligned to meet the the newly revised 2015 Texas Pre-K Guidelines.

Parent Engagement – As part of HB 4, districts are encouraged to comply with the Family Engagement plan. In order to support teachers, instructional coaches, coordinators and administration we will be hosting a series of trainings with partners such as Avance, BookSpring and more.

Early Childhood Leaders Network — Our Early Childhood Leaders Network provides an opportunity for Region 13 Early Childhood Specialists, district Pre-K Coordinators, principals and teacher leaders to network to imporve our students’ school readiness.  Meetings will focus on timely topics, compliance with House Bill 4 and more.

Interested? Sign up soon! Space is limited.

Register today!