A group of children sit on a slide at a playground, smiling at the camera

3 Easy Ways to Support Your Pre-schooler’s Social-Emotional Development at the Playground

From Playing Pretend to Avoiding Heights to Comforting Another Child: The Playground Is a Great Place to Strengthen Your Child’s Social-Emotional Learning

Does your pre-schooler pretend to be a space explorer? A dinosaur? A princess? Playing pretend is great news. It means that your child’s Social-Emotional Learning is thriving.

Social-Emotional Learning is when your child uses information, skills, and mindsets to form healthy identities, understand and manage their emotions, set and achieve their own goals, feel and express empathy, form and maintain healthy relationships, and make responsible decisions. Playing pretend and taking on other identities is an important Social-Emotional milestone for pre-schoolers. It shows that they are applying information they’ve learned, expanding on it with their imagination, developing empathy, and exploring new scenarios.

Here are some easy ways to support your pre-schooler’s Social-Emotional Learning at the playground:

  • Ask your child questions about their pretend games or imaginary friends. For example, “Wow! You and your friends are pretending to climb the tallest mountain in the world over on the slide? That’s incredible! Are there bears on the mountain? Tell me about it.” This shows your child that you’re interested and supportive of their imagination and creativity. It also provides your child with encouragement, which is a great way to bolster their confidence as they navigate new social situations like playing pretend with their friends.
  • Talk with your child about what scares them at the playground. If your child is suddenly avoiding heights (like monkey bars or tall slides) it may be because they are learning they could get hurt and don’t like how that feels. Ask them if they are scared of the slide, if it's because it's too high, and if it would be ok if you went down the slide together. Respect their answers and don’t make them go down the slide if they don't want to.
  • Praise your child’s concern for their friends (real or imaginary). When your child rushes to check on their friend who is crying or has scraped their knee or tripped in the sandbox, you can see their developing empathy skills. After ensuring that all children involved are indeed ok, be sure to tell your child, “I was very proud of how you checked on Sam when they fell! They’re lucky to have such a great friend.”
A smiling boy in a bowtie balances his Craftie atop his speaker as it tells him stories
In photo: Daniel Tiger Craftie, Storypod speaker, and interchangeable sleeve.

Storypod can support your pre-schoolers’s Social-Emotional development in the following ways:

Our Audio Experiences use Social-Emotional Learning as a foundation. Our Daniel Tiger Craftie tells your child interactive stories about empathy and comforting others who are hurt or sad. Our Spike: the Penguin with Rainbow Hair read-along audiobook models friends who comfort each other about their insecurities. These are great stories to help reinforce your child’s developing empathy skills after a day at the playground or even before you go.

Our Red Riding Hood Craftie teaches about stranger danger and navigating fear & anxiety. The Rapunzel Craftie teaches about safety and the dangers of heights. As your child is learning that they could be hurt by falling at the playground, these stories provide positive reinforcement, a safe space to navigate those fears, and a great way for you to have conversations with them about safety.

Our Elinor Wonders Why Craftie talks about making new friends, helping others, and exploring new things. The Frog Prince Craftie is full of fairy tales where characters empathetically support one another. Using Social-Emotional Learning to nurture your child is a given here at Storypod and we’re grateful you’ve chosen to bring us along on your child’s learning journey.


  1. From the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning: Fundamentals of SEL

Try Storypod

  • 📦 Free Shipping
Skip to product information

The award-winning audio system that engages kids with multisensory stories, music and skill-building.