Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Early Childhood Education

Interesting early research on resilience is showing that it is 'ordinary'. In other words we all have the potential for it and it then depends on life circumstances and how we deal with these to increase the size and strength of our resilience pot internally. So this means that the young children in our early years settings all have tremendous capacity for resilience and some may even be increasing it through finding creative ways to deal with their stressors. It also means that our own level of resilience is likely to be influential within our setting and with the children too.

How does that happen? Modelling is a well known strategy for young children to learn through. It is the easiest and most automatic thing for children to do. The more you demonstrate how you cope with any difficulties that come your way the easier it will be for young children to tuck those strategies into their mental files and call on them when the time comes for them to deal with a similar issue. This means that it is not helpful to children for you to hide the fact that you sometimes find something hard or stressful. Instead show them that you still tackle it with good humour, a wide perspective and understanding of why it is happening and why you find it a bit hard and by asking for help openly. This is very refreshing for young children as we often pretend things which they sense are not right but don't know enough to know why.

Resilience in early years education is best taught through a combination of modelling the most helpful attitudes such as respect, positivity, optimism and cooperation with one another but also by teaching specific skills gradually. These skills are to do with making and maintaining friendships. For everyone to have strong resilience they need to be able to call on support networks - and that means having the capacity to make friends and gain loyalty and love from them.

A useful task for us right now is to consider the play curriculum we have with the youngsters in our early years educataion settings and check that it is FULL of ways to make, maintain and manage friendships. This will be invaluable training for the children for the rest of their lives.

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