Literacy as a Support for Social-Emotional and Academic Growth

Literacy as a Support for Social-Emotional and Academic Growth

Amy Jo Clark, Melanie K. Van Dyke, Jill T. Tussey, Leslie Haas
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-7464-5.ch019
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This overview of childhood brain development makes targeted connections between social-emotional learning (SEL) and instructional supports. Emphasis is placed on how interactions between caregivers/teachers, children, and the environment inform early SEL and literacy skill development. Specific attention is paid to delayed social-emotional development and behavior disorders. Multimodal text sets are offered as a way to increase classroom awareness and understanding related to autism, ADD/ADHD, and ODD. SEL resources and support organization information is also provided.
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Social-Emotional Development

Research demonstrates early interactions between mothers and their children provide the environment for emotional socialization (Bozicevic, De Pascalis, Montirosso, Francesco, Giusti, Cooper, & Murray, 2020). The extent to which children learn to identify emotions, self-regulate, and interact with others has long term implications that may affect future relationships. Beginning with the first interactions infants experience with caregivers, most typically and most studied being mothers, infants begin to develop a SEL foundation (Mattheß,, 2020; Whipple, Bernier, & Mageau, 2011). Infants who experience safety and security combined with responsive parenting are equipped to progress through increasingly complex stages of social-emotional development. Balancing the need for safety with the need to explore, secure attachment is the basis for all future learning (CSEFEL, 2021).

Evidence exists that an infant’s brain is programmed to seek connection and mimic social behaviors in an effort to extend social interactions (Over, 2016). Towards the end of the second month of life, infants shared eye gaze shifts from simple eye contact to attending to maternal emotions (Wörmann, Holodynski, Kärtner, & Keller, 2014). Even before four months of age, infants engage in behaviors to increase maternal smiles (Ruvolo, Messenger, & Movellan, 2015). Therefore, early in the first year of life, infants developing secure attachments begin engaging in emotional learning, even as related to others. The length of these interactions is affected by the model provided by the mother and is observed cross-culturally (Wörmann, Holodynski, Kärtner, & Keller, 2014).

Over twenty-five years ago, Baumeister and Leary (1995) published their critical research claiming the need to belong is as important to human development as any physiological need. Supporting this claim, researcher Over (2015) described how, from infancy, humans demonstrate negative reactions to isolation from community. An aspect of SEL that may affect one’s ability to belong is self-regulation. Self-regulation is a complicated skill requiring a person to process emotions and choose an appropriate response and is thought to be influenced by executive function (Blair & Raver, 2016). Without developing this critical skill, patterns of dysregulation can persevere through early childhood and beyond (Altenburger, Lang, Schoppe-Sullivan, Kamp Dush, & Johnson, 2017; Kingsley, Sagester, & Weaver, 2020). Differential susceptibility hypothesis suggests there are biological factors that influence the infant’s ability to gain skills in conjunction with positive or negative parenting behaviors (Altenburger, et al., 2017). Newborns are unable to self-regulate and rely on caregivers to comfort and support them in order to regain a calm state. Parental behaviors that support infants in the development of this SEL aspect are integral and again, responsiveness plays an active role (Bozicevic,, 2020). Beginning self-regulation skills emerge in children with caregiver support to return to a regulated state.

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