No matter where I go or who I have spoken to this past year, everyone has shared it has been a hard year. The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic have touched everyone everywhere, including our very young children. As educators whose goal it is to help support children’s development and prepare them for school, it is time we take a minute to step back to what we know. Everything we do hinges on relationships. Research shows us that strong relationships formed in the early years can positively impact children’s academic and social-emotional skills. Warm, nurturing, responsive relationships help create safe environments that not only foster strong academies outcomes, but also creates successful life skills. Children who have strong positive relationships with their educators tend to show a strong sense of self-confidence, better relationships with peers, and a decrease in behavioral challenges. Taking time to be sure you are forming a strong relationship with each child in your program can have a positive impact not only on the children in your program, but research has also show that educators who report having strong bonds with their students tend to find their jobs more rewarding and have more confidence in their teaching practices.
Take some time to look at your relationship with each child in your program. Intentionally take some time to embed the skills below into your daily teaching practices.
- Spends time on the floor, communicating with children at eye-level face to face, using smiles and positive responsive verbal and non-verbal interactions.
- Speaks calmly and warmly to the children.
- Uses words, writing, music, and songs whenever possible in the child’s home language
- Uses one-to-one times, such as basic care routines to interact with individual children
- Is “in-tune” with each child in his or her care, reads children’s individual cues
- Follow child’s lead into play
- Uses books, stories and conversations to help make, meaningful connections to the children’s experiences and the important events in individual children’s lives
- Play responsive social games with children
- Make positive comments about children and their activities
- Use gentle and nurturing touch to provide emotional support and to communicate affection.
- Use children’s names during conversations
- Use a tone of voice, facial expression, and level of enthusiasm that is in syn with each child
- Demonstrate reciprocity in interactions
- Engages in joint attention with children
- Support children’s attempts at autonomy by promoting self-initiated exploration while remaining available to provide help when a child indicates a need for it.
If you would like to take a deeper dive into supporting relationships and or supporting children’s social- emotional needs check out the Maryland Pyramid Module Trainings or the Zero to Three Critical Competencies for Infant-Toddler Educators.
Maryland SEFEL Pyramid Model Module One Handout 1:6: Inventory of Practice – Tool 1 Building Relationships – https://theinstitute.myabsorb.com/#/online-courses/97a04771-cee1-4ec2-b118-84ed483ab6af
Reschke, K.; LeMonine, S., Greene, K., & Macasaet, K.(2017) Zero To Three Critical Competencies for Infant-Toddler Educators, Washington, DC.