Early Childhood Education

Early Childhood Education and Tracking Changes In Social and Emotional Maturation

Early childhood education is so important because it makes use of a child's natural learning ability. This is the time when their brains are exploding with growth and responding to the millions of pieces of information that are coming their way. Everything that comes their way is a new thing to learn about and make sense of so you can see just how powerful this time is for making sure that children are given the opportunity to learn things which will be constructive and positive for them. The brain is working overtime at this stage to organise, process and make sense of whatever is surrounding it. The richer and more consciously planned those environments are the better their chance of learning really useful things about everything. There are so many new links to make between things and so much neural activity needed to make connections and form new networks that a child's brain never stops while they are awake - and probably not while they are asleep either!

When the young child enters nursery and their more formal education begins - albeit in a far more unstructured, playful and fun way than they will have at 'big' school - they come with a certain amount of social and personal skills but nursery will be the place where they really start to hone these two skills in particular. Up to that point they have been interacting with a limited number of people like family and a few children of the same age but now they find themselves in a larger group and they have to transfer the skills they have learnt to this new situation. Friendship making and maintaining skills are amongst the most important they will learn for the rest of their lives so nurseries are strongly advised to help children experience and succeed in this friendship area as a big priority The child's brain is still soaking up information at a great rate at this stage in their lives and they will quickly learn how to manage well if they are supported well in this area. Coaching, encouragement and plenty of pleasant opportunities to find out what to do are what will make the biggest difference to them. That, and you modelling good friendship skills with other adults. They will copy what they see. All of this will help them refine their socialising skills, learn to share, develop their sense of humour and discover great coping strategies.

So where does tracking their changes come in? Having some kind of system in the nursery to make notes on a child's social and personal strengths is a very useful start. Children come in with very different temperaments and very different backgrounds - thus their ability to form friendships and manage their own emotional states will vary enormously. They more you tune into the areas where particular children shine and then use them as models for the others in the group to copy the better. It is even easier for them to copy a peer than to copy you so take advantage of the social 'stars' and intra-personally strong children who do manage their emotions well. If you have made preliminary notes on each child you can start to arrange games and teams/group activities so that children who are strong in these areas are teamed with children who are less strong. You can select certain non-competitive games to play which foster friendship making and make these a focus for the first two terms at least. In the third term you can revisit your initial notes and see just how many ways the children have matured socially and emotionally.

There are many checklists of social and emotional behaviours available in books on early childhood development and a special report on these behaviours has been compiled by the team at Assess Baseline and Track. Any of these would give you a starting point for your early notes which will then act as your baseline measure from which you will track progress.

If you want to know more about a strengths based and developmental approach to behaviour change and find out more about early childhood education, young people or adults please visit http://www.assess-baseline-track.com.