The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type

Starred Paper



Degree Name

Early Childhood Special Education Studies: M.S.


Child and Family Studies


School of Education

First Advisor

Frances Kayona

Second Advisor

Ana Welu

Third Advisor

Deborah Wheeler

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.


According to Sriram (2020), critical times are moments when a child's brain develops rapidly. The first critical learning moment happens about age two. A second one happens during puberty (Sriram, 2020). The number of synaptic connections between brain cells (neurons) doubles at the beginning of these periods. Therefore, children's experiences at this stage have an ongoing impact on their development (Sriram, 2020). Their brains are not only developing cognitively as they work to solve problems and learn new skills, but they are also trying to understand their emotions and the emotions of others around them. As they see other children and adults reacting to situations, they are trying to determine how they are supposed to respond to the environment and people around them.

A key component of young children's success in school and in later life is the development of social-emotional competence (SEC). The significance of social-emotional ability to school readiness has received fresh attention from empirical studies. Numerous studies have demonstrated that youngsters who begin kindergarten with higher levels of social-emotional competence are more effective in forming favorable school attitudes and making early adjustments, as well as in achieving higher academic standards (Im, Jiar, & Talib, 2019). When a child has historical interactions with parents or other primary caregivers who are dependable, predictable, and accessible during their care, an attachment is formed. The degree to which a youngster is willing to participate in and gain from social interactions determines the quality of attachment. These early attachments lay the foundation for trust in interpersonal relationships. The potential to have intimate relationships with people throughout one's life is strengthened by this partnership (Im, Jiar, & Talib, 2019).