The ABC of Child Care series of posts aims to illustrate for parents what quality child care looks like in practice and aims to be both a tool for parents looking for child care for the first time and as a resource for all parents with children in care. I believe we all share a responsibility to ask questions and expect results when it comes to the environment and people caring for and educating our youngest and most impressionable citizens.
Learning socially acceptable behaviours and being able to regulate their own behaviour in different social and emotional environments, when interacting with both peers or adults, are two of the many challenges children face in their development.
Child care centre’s should employ a range of strategies in working with children and families to develop each individual child’s social competencies. These will often include;
- Children and adults (educators and family members) working together to develop in children socially acceptable ways of interacting,
- Educators operating as effective work teams with open communication between colleagues and with families,
- Educators promoting to children and families the values, attitudes and current recommended strategies that promote positive play behaviours and behaviour patterns,
- Educators promoting realistic play and behavioural limits that guide children’s safety and security rather than curb their play experiences, curiosity or creativity,
- Educators and families working together to outline and implement an individual plan of action, incorporating strategies that address behaviour that has been identified as challenging, and
- Accessing relevant resource agencies and professionals (where necessary) for assistance in helping all children to achieve socially competent behaviour.
The term “behaviour guidance” has replaced what was previously called “behaviour management,” as it more effectively defines all forms of behaviour, not just those behaviours which could be labelled as ‘negative’. Strategies for helping to guide children towards socially acceptable behaviours will usually include;
- Children and adults (staff and family members) working together to change ways of interacting,
- A sense of trust fostered between educators and children by allocating consistent ‘homeroom’ staff who spend the majority of each day with one group of children,
- Educators thoughtfully plan the physical environment, making sure that it is aesthetically appealing and engaging for the children,
- Educators participating respectfully with the children in all areas of the learning environment and actively engaging in activities and routines with them. This helps to promote positive relationships with children and between children,
- Educators ensure all children are afforded complete acceptance through respect of any differences, attention, affirmation and affection,
- Educators listen to children sensitively, with genuine interest and warmth,
- Educators encourage awareness of how others think and feel,
- Educators model appropriate positive behaviour,
- Educators use positive language, being wary of tone of voice and the manner of speech used,
- Educators demonstrate knowledge of young children’s emotional needs, identifying with the child’s feelings, recognising feelings of frustration, anger, sadness, boredom, distress, and assisting the child to express emotional responses appropriately,
- Educators encourage children to develop problem solving skills that can assist in resolving conflict between children,
- Educators work with families to develop guidance strategies consistent between the centre and home environment, and
- Educators and families outline a plan of action and implemented strategies that address behaviour that has been identified as challenging, drawing on relevant resource agencies and professionals and literature for assistance.