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Personal, social and emotional development

Personal, emotional and social development (PSED) handouts and videos

Personal, social and emotional development (PSED) is one of three prime areas within the early years foundation stage (EYFS), but it connects the whole curriculum. Through positive relationships with adults, children learn what their emotions are, how to regulate them and how relationships with their peers work.

During the coronavirus pandemic, we conducted research studies exploring the impact of the restrictions on children’s PSED with over 900 childcare staff, and parents, to understand their experiences and those of children in their care. This culminated in our report - Their challenges are our challenges, which describes the adverse impact of the pandemic on young children’s PSED in 7 ways:

  1. Greater separation anxiety and issues in forming relationships with staff

  2. Children becoming more emotional, and a difficulty with managing their emotions

  3. Children exhibiting more disruptive and challenging behaviour

  4. Children experiencing greater issues socialising

  5. Children developing an obsession with cleaning hands, a fear of germs and the virus

  6. Children being upset over lost connections to family and friends, including 12% becoming bereaved

  7. Children experiencing various developmental delays and/or regressions

With thanks

Thank you to the following who participated in focus groups and consultations so we could ensure our work was relevant, engaging and accurate:

  • National Day Nurseries Association

  • Dr Julian Grenier - Headteacher of Sheringham Nursery School and Children's Centre Co-lead, East London Research School

  • Dr Eunice Lumsden - Associate Professor and Subject Lead for Childhood Youth and Families, University of Northampton

  • Penelope Rodrigues – Early Years Consultant, Hackney Services for Schools

  • Alison Scott – Standards and Improvement Officer, Hull City Council Early Years Team

  • Professor Jane Payler – Professor of Education (Early Years), The Open University Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies

  • Emma Fraser – Teacher of the Deaf; Success from the Start (Early Support Monitoring Protocol for the families of deaf children)

  • Angela Gamble – Information, Advice and Guidance Manager, Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY)

  • Alliyah Campbell - Assistant Psychologist

  • Personal, social and emotional development in the early years: a handbook for practitioners


    This guide is for early years workers, managers and practitioners from the wider early years sector.


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