SED 2: Social and Emotional Understanding

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Definition: Child shows developing understanding of people’s behaviors, feelings, thoughts, and individual characteristics

SED 2: Social and Emotional UnderstandingView examples of the developmental levels for SED Measure 2 below: Responding Earlier, Responding Later, Exploring Earlier, Exploring Later, Building Earlier, Buidling Middle, Building Later, Integrating Earlier



Note: For young children, learning is an integrated experience. The examples below may include multiple areas of learning and development.

Responding Earlier

Responds to faces, voices, or actions of other people

Possible Examples

  • Looks at faces.
  • Turns head toward an adult during feeding.
  • Grasps an adult’s finger when palm of child’s hand is touched.

Responding Later

Shows awareness of what to expect from familiar people by responding to or anticipating their actions

Possible Examples

  • Smiles when an adult continues after pausing during a game of pattycake.
  • Looks toward the location of where an adult’s face will reappear during a game of peek-a-boo.
  • Kicks legs in excitement or adjusts body when a familiar adult leans forward to pick child up.

Source: California Department of Education. 2016.

Exploring Earlier

Adjusts behavior in response to emotional expressions of familiar people, especially in novel or uncertain situations

Possible Examples

  • Pays attention to a familiar adult’s facial expressions when an unfamiliar person enters the room.
  • Stops playing, looks up, and then smiles when hearing a familiar adult’s laugh.
  • Starts to climb on a table, but pauses in response to an adult’s cautionary look and warning.

Exploring Later

Adjusts behavior in response to emotional expressions of people who are less familiar

Possible Examples

  • Moves or looks toward a familiar adult when a less familiar adult enters the room.
  • Pauses after reaching toward a peer’s toy, to check on a less familiar adult’s response.
  • Stops in response to a warning from another child’s parent about getting too close to the swing.

Building Earlier

Identifies own or others’ feelings

Possible Examples

  • Communicates, “También me gusta pintar, me hace feliz,” [“I like to paint, too; it makes me happy,” in Spanish] after noticing a child at an easel.
  • Communicates that a crying child is sad.
  • Communicates, “She wants the big truck.”
  • Points to “angry” picture on emotion chart while looking at a peer.

Building Middle

Communicates, with adult assistance, about feelings that caused own behavior or others’ behavior

Possible Examples

  • Responds that a friend is sad, when an adult asks, “Why did your friend get his blanket?”
  • Communicates that the turtle was scared, when an adult asks, “Why did the turtle go into its shell?”
  • Communicates, “Cô bé nhớ mẹ của mình,” [“She misses her mommy,” in Vietnamese] when an adult asks, “What happened?”

Building Later

Communicates ideas about why one has a feeling or what will happen as a result of a feeling

Possible Examples

  • Communicates, “Magagalit siya kapag bumagsak na naman ang kanyang tulay,” [“He’ll be mad if his bridge is knocked down again,” in Tagalog].
  • Uses a communication device to express, “I feel sleepy when it gets dark.”
  • Communicates, “I’m bored. I’m going to play with the blocks now.”

Integrating Earlier

Communicates ideas about how own or another’s personality affects how one thinks, feels, and acts

  • Communicates to a peer, “You’re silly,” when the peer starts giggling and other children join in.
  • Communicates that a peer is shy when seeing her hide as an unfamiliar adult approaches.
  • Communicates that another child plays with everyone because he is so friendly.


What would your example be?

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