Social-Emotional Case Study

Promoting the social-emotional development of young children is a major responsibility of any early childhood program. As leaders in the field of early childhood education, we must not only guide our students, but also lead by example for our colleagues to ensure that we foster the development of self-concept, self-control, cooperation, and relationships. Promoting these areas of social-emotional development is critical for three reasons:

  • “Positive social-emotional development provides a base for life-long learning.
  • Social skills and emotional self-regulation are integrally related to later academic success in school.
  • Prevention of future social and behavioral difficulties is more effective than later remediation.” (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2008, para 3).

To begin this discussion, choose one of the case studies below:


Case Study 1

“Four-year-old Gregory is an avid block builder. At free play, he has busied himself with an elaborate construction of a zoo. To complete his masterpiece, he needs an elusive Y-shaped block. As he searches the room in vain for the last, crucial piece, his initial calm hunt becomes more hurried and disorganized. He begins to yell and disrupt other children’s play. Gregory sees that his classmate Malik has the piece he wants. Gregory aggressively approaches Malik, who looks frightened. His teacher approaches in the nick of time and asks, “What’s the matter?” Gregory screams that Malik has his block and then swiftly turns away to go after the piece. Gregory’s teacher stops him from grabbing the block, whereupon Gregory launches into a major tantrum. The tantrum persists even though his teacher repeatedly tells him to “calm down.” (Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning, n.d., para. 2).


Case Study 2

“Keisha is 4 years old and loves to play at the computer. The computer area is her first choice at center time, just about every day. Today, Keisha is getting nervous because her teacher has called upon most of the boys and girls to decide where they would like to play first and Keisha notices that there is just one space left at the computers. She starts to bounce a little with her hand extended in the air and tries her best not to call out to the teacher, “Me next!” When Keisha finally gets called on to make her choice, she sees that the computer area is full. Keisha crosses her arms across her chest and frowns. Her teacher asks, “Keisha, what is the matter?” Keisha says, “I wanted to play on the computer.” Her teacher replies, “Hmmm… they look full.” Keisha replies, “Yeah, I’m frustrated and a little mad.” Her teacher responds, “You feel frustrated and a little mad, huh? Well, that is a problem.” Keisha begins to take some deep breaths and then proclaims, “I will go play at the block corner until Bahta is done. Can you come tell me when he is finished?” Her teacher replies, “I am so proud of you for staying so calm and figuring out a solution to your problem. Why don’t you ask Bahta to let you know when it is your turn?” Keisha smiles at the suggestion and skips off to make the request of Bahta.” (Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning, n.d., para. 3).


Case Study 3

“Gregory’s teacher, Miss Antoinette, realized that Gregory and some of his classmates needed help to develop skills in labeling emotions. She started making a conscious effort to label her feelings, as well as the feelings of children in her class throughout the day—every day. She encouraged the other adults in the room to do the same. She also planned at least one feeling game, song, or story a day to introduce new and more complex feeling words. She also taught the children some strategies for regulating their emotions such as taking deep breaths, relaxing their muscles, and thinking of “happy places.” When she saw Gregory get upset, she would move in to ask him how he was feeling and help him use some of the strategies for calming down. Over time, Miss Antoinette noticed a significant difference in Gregory and his peers’ behavior. The children would tell each other how they felt instead of fighting and would help each other when in distress. Miss Antoinette noticed that the children no longer needed her to intervene to solve problems as often—but instead would solve them on their own. She noticed that even for children like Keisha, who had a strong foundation in labeling emotions, positive changes were occurring. Miss Antoinette felt a sense of calm in her room and was happy that she would be sending her children onto kindergarten with a strong foundation in emotional literacy.” (Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning, n.d., para. 15).

(Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning, n.d.).

Initial Post: Address the points below:

  • Examine whether the teachers’ actions in the case study provided an equitable and just learning environment for her students.
  • Explain whether you feel the solution the teacher used in the case study was ethical by developing a coherent argument that is supported by  the NAEYC Code of Ethical Conduct.
  • Discuss how the strategies the teacher used were developmentally appropriate. Support your thinking with the text, developmental milestones (Appendix A of your textbook), and at least one additional scholarly source.
  • Propose at least two things you would do next if you were the teacher in the case study in order to continue fostering the social-emotional development of the child(ren) in the case study. Support your decision with at least one additional scholarly source.
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