I’m Patty Mazzoni, the Early Childhood Manager for Salt Lake CAP Head Start in Salt Lake City, Utah. This summer I am teaching a class on Social and Emotional Teaching Strategies for Young Children. The class offers a variety of techniques to help children learn the importance of getting along with others, problem solving, classroom practices that prevent challenging behavior and positive parenting that promotes children’s social and emotional development.
Before we begin to teach these strategies, we focus on the foundation of an effective early childhood education program. This foundation is a positive, supportive relationship between teachers and children as well as families. Good relationships are key to effective teaching and guidance in social, emotional and behavioral development. A positive teacher-child relationship built on trust and understanding will foster children’s cooperation and motivate and increase their positive outcomes in school.
Some key points to think of are:
Your potential influence on children’s behavior grows significantly; children notice responsive caring adults.
Children pay particular attention to what such a teacher says and does.
Children seek out ways to ensure even more positive attention from the teacher.
Children develop a positive self-concept, confidence and a sense of safety that helps to reduce the occurrence of challenging behavior
The time spent building a strong relationship is probably less than the time required to implement more elaborate and time-consuming strategies.
You will feel more positive about your job.
You will begin to see a ripple effect. Children will become more skilled at building positive relationships with other children.
Next time a child pushes your buttons, think about this metaphor. Think of a piggy bank. Are you making a deposit in this child’s life or are you making a withdrawal? You can make an impact on a child’s life by building a close, nurturing relationship.
Patty Mazzon is the Early Childhood Manager for Salt Lake CAP Head Start in Salt Lake City, Utah. She manages early childhood services for 150 staff and 2,000 children and families. For the past seventeen years she has worked with children with Special Needs. She also consults on the Achievement Products catalog for children with Special Needs.