We have been talking about the interest areas and the physical environment in a quality early childhood program that are essential for the growth and development of our children. Based on the recommendation of the Child Care Assistance Program, CCAP, for a quality childcare program, today, we are going to focus on nurturing, supportive relationships in a quality program.
Relationships are the foundation to everything we do. We can have the state-of-the-art building, materials, and equipment, but if we don’t have a nurturing and responsive relationship with the children and families, we are not going to be successful. Loving, reliable, and responsive relationships are fundamental to child development.
It is crucial to build relationships early before there’s a problem. Between 10 to 30% of preschool children are not behaviorally and emotionally ready to succeed in school. According to the CDC, one in five young children today are experiencing mental health issues and only 20% are receiving treatment. Many times, early problem behavior is predictive of future challenges and may lead to delinquency in adolescence, gang membership, and incarceration. Across the nation, preschool teachers report that children’s disruptive behavior is the single greatest challenge they are facing today.
Children learn and develop in the context of relationships that are responsive, consistent, and nurturing. We need to be mindful of all the relationships that a child has contact with:
- The parent and child relationship
- The teacher and child relationship
- The teacher and parent relationship
- The relationships among the children
- The relationship between the staff and administration
All relationships that impact the child are critical in promoting social emotional development. The whole team must work together to implement a high-quality program built on nurturing, responsive relationships. Through relationships, children learn how to think, understand, communicate, behave, express emotions, and develop social skills.
Teachers can support positive relationships with children by:
- Acknowledging children’s communication (verbal or non-verbal)
- Greeting children by their name
- Engaging in one-to-one interactions, at eye level
- Using a pleasant, calm voice and simple language
- Providing warm, responsive physical contact
- Following the child’s lead and interests during play
- Listening to children and encourage them to listen to others
- Acknowledging children’s accomplishments & efforts
We consistently say that the parents are their child’s first and most important teacher. Parents can support their child’s social emotional development by:
- Helping their child in challenging moments: if your child is getting frustrated, help him calm down with deep breaths or a quiet place to relax.
- Delighting in their child: share in their happiness when they do something new like putting on their own jacket or building a tall tower.
- Encouraging their child’s independence: encourage them to help set the table, sort the laundry, or get dressed for the day.
- Empowering their child: offer your child choices, such as what to wear or what they want for dinner.
- Supporting their child’s understanding of feelings: talk about feelings and help them identify how they are feeling.
- Catching their child being good: let your child know when they do something good; “Thank you for putting away your toys. That was really helpful!”
When parents respond warmly to their child’s needs, they are helping their child feel safe and secure. This will give their child the confidence to explore the world. Through strong attachments and relationships early in life from those children come in contact with, children will more likely have better mental health and fewer behavior challenges later on. “It takes a village to raise a child” is a famous proverb that means that an entire community of people must provide for and interact positively with children for those children to experience and grow in a safe and healthy environment. Let’s all work together to ensure we are providing a high-quality program with responsive, supportive relationships for all! #SayYes2ChildCare!