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The Development Of Social–Emotional Competence In Preschool-Aged Children: An Introduction To The Fun FRIENDS Program

Kristine M. Pahl, Paula M. Barrett

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AbstractThe development of social–emotional competence is of key importance during early childhood, particularly during the preschool years. We too often believe that early childhood education should focus on the promotion of academic skills to increase intelligence and, therefore, neglect the importance of social and emotional learning. Children who are socially and emotionally well adjusted do better at school, have increased confidence, have good relationships, take on and persist at challenging tasks and communicate well. The school setting is the optimal environment to implement interventions focused on increasing social–emotional competence. This article examines the importance of developing social–emotional competence during the early years of life and discusses universal intervention approaches within the classroom. A particular universal intervention program — The Fun FRIENDS program (Barrett, 2007) — aimed at increasing social–emotional competence is described in detail. The Fun FRIENDS program is a developmentally tailored, downward extension of the preexisting, evidence-based FRIENDS for Life program (Barrett 2004; 2005).