Qualification: NCFE CACHE Level 3 Diploma for the Early Years Educator
Unit: Unit 3.4: Contribute to enabling play environments
Learning outcome: Understand how the Early Years practitioner supports children’s behaviour and socialisation within play environments
Assessment criteria: Describe the role of the Early Years practitioner in supporting children’s socialisation within play environments
Children’s socialisation is the process of learning how to interact with and form relationships with other people, as well as to develop self-awareness and confidence.
This process happens both naturally and through direct teaching from parents, caregivers, and other adults in a child’s life.
It is an important part of early childhood development, as it not only helps children learn how to manage their emotions but also teaches them how to develop meaningful connections with others in their community.
Socialisation is a gradual process. Babies initially form close bonds with their parents before they become familiar with other family members and their Key Worker. As they get older, they will begin to notice other children and spend time observing them. They may also carry out activities alongside other children (parallel play). It isn’t until the age of three that they will begin to play cooperatively with their peers.
There are several ways that Early Years practitioners can support the socialisation of children within play environments.
Early Years Practitioners are responsible for setting a good example of social behaviour for children. This can be achieved through demonstrating respectful and kind interactions with other adults, showing positive responses to children’s emotions and behaviour, and modelling appropriate problem-solving strategies.
By taking the time to build relationships with children through meaningful conversations, Early Years Practitioners create an environment of trust which encourages socialisation and positive interaction between peers.
Furthermore, allowing children to observe adults engaging positively in activities such as reading or playing together helps them understand how to behave appropriately in social settings. Role modelling is an important part of early childhood development, as it helps children learn what behaviours are socially acceptable and encourages them to develop their own interpersonal skills.
Early Years Practitioners can also support socialisation through acknowledgement, praise and encouragement by recognising children’s successes and providing positive reinforcement.
Acknowledging a child’s efforts helps to foster a strong trust between the practitioner and child, enhancing the development of their interpersonal skills. Praising good behaviour reinforces effective social behaviour while encouraging children to continue engaging positively with each other.
Finally, Early Years Practitioners support socialisation through planning activities that encourage children to interact with each other in meaningful ways. By creating a safe space for collaboration, negotiation and problem-solving, these activities allow children to practice essential life skills such as communication, cooperation and conflict resolution.
Through engaging in games and activities that involve turn-taking, sharing resources, or working together towards a common goal, children can learn the value of embracing diversity, respecting others’ opinions and developing positive relationships with their peers.
Of course, planned activities should be appropriate for the age and stage of development of the child – for example, a one-year-old will not be able to understand the concept of taking turns!