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A Focus on Self-Regulation

Turtle Creek Learning Academy | September, 2013

Several times a year, preschool directors are invited to meet with the principal of the Early Learning Center (I believe just recently renamed The David Abbott Early Learning Center) to discuss how we can better prepare our students for the public school experience. When I met with Dr. Whelan last spring, she expressed that the private preschools in the area are doing a find job academically preparing the children but felt we needed to focus more on self-regulation. So this summer, I spent some time researching self-regulation and how we can incorporate strategies to help our students develop this set of skills.

TNKCAPSimply put, self-regulation refers to several complicated processes that allow children to appropriately respond to their environment. When we think about self-regulation, we often think of the child who calls out or can’t sit still during morning meeting. But it is larger than that. Self-regulation includes the shy child who is hesitant to engage in play with others. It includes the anxious child who is afraid of new experiences or routines. When we broaden our understanding of this term, we see that it includes all of our children.

Several days this summer, I began to observe my own self-regulating skills. I realized that dozens of times throughout the day, we adults monitor and manipulate our thoughts and behavior to better respond to the world. A few days during the summer I wanted to play hooky. How did I motivate myself to come to work? I wanted the entire piece of cheesecake? How did I appropriately deal with that desire? I spent some sleepless nights worrying about a very sick friend. How did I manage that anxiety so I could get some sleep?

Children develop foundational skills for self-regulation in the first five years of life which means that parents and early childhood teachers play a significant role in helping young children regulate thinking and behavior. The three steps in teaching these skills as with any other skills are: modeling, supporting using hints and cues, and finally, gradually withdrawing adult support.

Parents are teachers are so good at modeling for children when it comes to academic skills. How many times do we have to show our children how to make the capital “B” before they try it themselves? How many times do we count before they try to count with us? We model it once, twice, hundreds of times. We need to do the same with self-regulation skills. When your children get angry, what do you do? Do you meet their anger with your anger or do you teach them strategies that they can use when they get angry or upset. And remember, no matter what you say to them, they are looking at what we do. Our actions are the most important first step in showing our children how to appropriately speak and behave.

I will continue to write about this topic in other blogs and let you know our observations here at Turtle Creek. Feel free to write or call with any questions.

NEXT MONTH: The strategies we are incorporating into our existing curriculum and practices to teach self-regulation

 

 

 

 

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