December 2022 Newsletter – Keeping Child Development in Mind During the Holidays: Executive Functions

Executive Functions

Brain development begins in the base of the brain, which regulates those automatic functions such as breathing and heart rate. Development continues as the center of the brain manages emotions and memory. One of the last parts of the brain to develop is located directly behind the forehead.  This area is responsible for self-regulation, decision-making, and managing attention.

Did you know that this area of the brain continues to develop into early adulthood?  This means that young children technically do not have the brain capacity to regulate their behaviors, especially when they are stressed or overwhelmed.  They are learning how to use self-regulation skills, but the area of the brain responsible for these skills is not fully formed in childhood.

These skills are sometimes called executive functioning skills.  They include skills associated with:

  • Emotional regulation
  • Impulse control
  • Attention focus
  • Time management
  • Working memory
  • Frustration tolerance
  • Self-monitoring
  • Flexibility
  • Task initiation
  • Organization
  • Planning

Now take a moment to think about all of the demands that are put on children during holiday celebrations.  Can you see how some of the expectations that are placed on children may not be realistic based on the fact that the skills above are not fully developed?

Again, children are learning these skills, but it takes a lot of practice to master these skills. Some skills develop earlier than others. It is important to understand where children are currently functioning and create expectations that match children’s developmental capabilities.  To do otherwise only adds stress to an already stressful situation.

Help families understand executive functioning skills and their impact on children’s behaviors and responses to different situations.  Share activity ideas for helping children strengthen these skills.

If you need more information on executive functioning, consider taking the CCEI course entitled CHD111: Explaining Executive Functions.


For the main article Keeping Child Development in Mind During the Holidays, CLICK HERE

For the article Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development, CLICK HERE

For the article Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Development, CLICK HERE

For the article Bowlby’s Attachment Theory, CLICK HERE

December 2022 Newsletter – Keeping Child Development in Mind During the Holidays: Bowlby’s Attachment Theory

Bowlby’s Attachment Theory

Bowlby’s work focused on the idea that children develop within the context of the relationships they have with their caregivers. He thought that infants seek out bonds with adults as a survival mechanism and if strong bonds are not formed in early childhood, the child may struggle to establish healthy bonds in the future.

According to attachment researchers who built upon Bowlby’s work, four different attachment styles can develop:

  • Secure attachment occurs when caregivers consistently meet the needs of a young child. The child’s needs are met in a warm and nurturing manner. This results in the child knowing that their caregivers can be depended upon.
  • Avoidant attachment occurs when caregivers failed to respond to the needs of the child. This results in the child not trusting that their needs will be met.
  • Ambivalent attachment occurs when caregivers respond to children’s needs in an inconsistent manner. In this case, the child’s needs are sometimes met with nurturing, and other times the needs are not met at all. This causes the child to be confused about whether their needs will be met in the future.
  • Disorganized attachment occurs when a caregiver’s response to a child is harmful, erratic, or unpredictable.

The type of attachment that a child experiences will impact their behaviors and interactions with other caregivers.  If they feel that they cannot trust the adults around them, they may be less likely to explore their environment or build relationships with others.

An adult’s ability to respond to the needs of children can be impacted by the amount of stress that they are experiencing. Keep this in mind as you navigate the holiday season. Be present and nurturing with the children in your care to form and maintain strong attachments.

Help families reduce stress and access resources that can help them be better prepared to meet the needs of their children in nurturing ways. Share activity ideas for families to do at home that are designed to build bonds between children and their family members.


For the main article Keeping Child Development in Mind During the Holidays, CLICK HERE

For the article Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development, CLICK HERE

For the article Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Development, CLICK HERE

For the article Executive Functions, CLICK HERE

December 2022 Newsletter – Keeping Child Development in Mind During the Holidays: Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Development

Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Development

Erik Erikson’s work focused on the development of humans from a social-emotional lens. His theory contains 8 stages that evolve throughout the human lifespan. The first five stages cover birth through age 18.

  • Stage 1: Trust vs. Mistrust – Infants begin to trust their caregivers when their needs are met with consistency and warmth. If this fails to occur, mistrust will develop.
  • Stage 2: Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt – Toddlers are exploring their independence. When this is encouraged, children begin to trust their abilities and build confidence. If independence is discouraged, children could develop self-doubt or feelings of shame about their abilities.
  • Stage 3: Initiative vs. Guilt – Preschoolers continue to explore independence as they set goals and work toward them. When supported, children will develop positive feelings about their skills and will continue to take initiative. If these efforts are discouraged, a child may experience feelings of guilt and avoid taking initiative.
  • Stage 4: Industry vs. Inferiority – Young school-agers who are supported in their efforts will experience feelings of competence. If children do not experience positive feedback for their efforts, feelings of incompetence and inferiority can emerge.
  • Stage 5: Identity vs. Role Confusion – Teens are working to develop their sense of self and determine who they are in relation to others and their environment. When supported, teens will develop a strong sense of who they are. If not supported, they may be confused and struggle to establish a strong sense of self.

Understanding how supporting children through these stages of development is extremely important.  It is natural for toddlers to seek autonomy; preschoolers seek opportunities to set and achieve goals; school-agers want to feel like competent human beings. And according to Erickson, it is vital that these efforts are nurtured and supported.

All of this development continues during the holiday season – there is no pause button. Unfortunately, a toddler who wants to get dressed independently for the holiday party may not align with their parent’s vision or timeline.

Caregivers need to understand how their responses to children’s actions impact the development of children during these critical stages. Provide lots of opportunities for children to work on these skills in your learning environment.  Share this developmental information with families along with some tips for how to encourage trust, autonomy, initiative, and competence during the holiday season.


For the main article Keeping Child Development in Mind During the Holidays, CLICK HERE

For the article Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development, CLICK HERE

For the article Bowlby’s Attachment Theory, CLICK HERE

For the article Executive Functions, CLICK HERE

December 2022 Newsletter – Keeping Child Development in Mind During the Holidays: Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development

Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development

One of the first characteristics to keep in mind when working with children is the stage of cognitive development they are in.  Jean Piaget provides some insight into this with his theory of cognitive development, in which he attempts to explain how children think, process information, and build their understanding of the world.  The first thing to remember is that the way children think is much different than how adults think. Children have different reasoning skills, which mature and become more complex as they age.

Beyond that, Piaget recognized 4 distinct stages of cognitive development that children move through as they age. The ages associated with each stage of development are generally when you would expect to see most children enter into a new stage. Every child approaches these stages at their own pace.

Creating appropriate expectations depends on one’s understanding of how different aspects of cognition develop.

Sensorimotor stage (birth-age 2) – In the first stage of cognitive development, infants and toddlers make sense of the world around them through their senses and body movements. Things to remember about this stage:

  • Children in this stage are only able to focus on the here and now.
  • Abstract concepts, such as time, are incomprehensible to the young brain.
  • At some point, they recognize themselves as separate from others.
  • They will imitate what they see others doing.
  • Around 8 months, the idea that something exists even when it cannot be seen emerges. This is called object permanence.
  • Closer to two years old, children begin to show signs of representational thinking – the idea that something can be used to represent something else. A banana can be a phone. A word represents a thought or object.

Preoperational stage (between ages 2-7) – In this second stage of cognitive development, children use more language and their imagination begins to develop. They learn to use more symbols to represent other things, which is apparent as they begin to draw and write letters.  Other things to keep in mind about this stage of development include:

  • Children are not yet able to employ logical thinking. Thinking is still focused on what children can see, meaning hypothetical scenarios are difficult for children in this stage to comprehend.
  • Children are still focused on the present moment. Understanding the concept of time is still not fully developed.
  • Piaget used the phrase egocentric to describe children of this age, not because they are intentionally being narcissistic, but because their limited experience prevents them from recognizing that other people have different points of view. This skill develops throughout this period as children develop what Piaget called theory of mind.
  • Children don’t yet understand conservation. This is the idea that two equal amounts of an object presented in different shapes are still equal.  Children will tend to choose the option that looks bigger or is in a container that looks fuller.

Concrete operational stage (between ages 7 -11) – Around the age of seven, children will begin to think in a more logical way about the concrete world around them.  Abstract concepts are still challenging for children of this age. Things to know about this stage of development:

  • Children are able to understand that other people have their own perspectives.
  • Children begin to understand the concept of time.
  • They understand that equal portions remain equal, even if the shape changes.
  • Understanding is enhanced when children use real materials. For example, children learning about fractions may use manipulatives to see the difference between ¼ and ½.

Formal operational stage (ages 12 and up) – Once a child reaches this stage of cognitive development, they are able to think in a more abstract way.  Here are some features of this stage of development:

  • Children can apply reason and logic to both concrete and abstract situations.
  • Children in this stage no longer need manipulatives to help them with mathematical concepts such as division or fractions.
  • Hypothetical thinking becomes more common.
  • Children grasp the concept of time and how it passes, allowing them to become better planners.

One of the biggest challenges during the holidays is the idea that a big event is going to happen in 2 weeks, 2 days, or 2 hours.  The idea of time and how it passes is challenging for most young children.  Pair that with general impatience and anticipation and you can see why children might struggle during this time of year. Understanding this information can also help adults choose appropriate toys and games for children.


For the main article Keeping Child Development in Mind During the Holidays, CLICK HERE

For the article Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Development, CLICK HERE

For the article Bowlby’s Attachment Theory, CLICK HERE

For the article Executive Functions, CLICK HERE

Current Trends in Early Childhood Education

As a busy preschool teacher, it can be difficult to stay on top of trends in early childhood education while you’re focused on teaching and nurturing your young flock and balancing the pressures of complying with various administrative mandates thrown your way.

The industry is evolving, and it is essential for educators to evolve with it to serve their students best and to foster engagement with classroom parents and guardians too.

Thankfully, you don’t have to scour the internet for the latest relevant trends because we’ve done the legwork for you.

We’ve mapped out an overview of current trends in early childhood education so you’ll know what to look out for, along with links to further resources and studies and professional development options to increase your knowledge and readiness.


Early mental health awareness: Of the many conversations the pandemic forced onto our collective plates, mental health has surely been top of mind as one of the foremost trends in early childhood education, especially as in-person learning got us all back together. Young children are no exception to feeling the emotional and mental upheaval of isolation, social distancing, and a changed home life dynamic. What is your role as a teacher? You can be a true beacon, the first line of defense as teachers. The National Institute of Mental Health offers some tips on identifying the potential signs of mental health issues in young children to help you navigate one of the most complicated current trends in early childhood education.

Early literacy: The trend toward teaching preschoolers the fundamentals of literacy will continue, following the mantra that it’s never too early to begin academic-style learning. Leading to another time-tested educational adage: literacy is the gateway to learning. The U.S. Department has an easy three-step recommendation for boosting early literacy in your classroom: talk, read, and sing together. Plenty of online resources offer detailed tips for implementing one of the most engaging and interactive current trends in early childhood education.

Technology, technology, technology: Technology is one of the trends in early childhood education that’s not trendy – i.e., it’s not a fad or flash in the pan. The latest advances in technology will continue to transform the average preschool setting, so there’s plenty of incentive to boost your technology acumen as a teacher while staying ahead of the curve. Think of it as opening Pandora’s Box in a good way, as technology allows greater access to an ever-expanding range of online educational tools for your students – and you’ll be the master of these tools.

This leads us directly to…


Remote/hybrid learning: While the pandemic necessitated remote/distance learning in many areas, it also showcased the capabilities and, unfortunately, the vulnerabilities of teaching students via video conferencing. According to Education Week, remote learning is here to stay, but it needs to improve. What is more likely, save for another pandemic or similar disaster, is a shift to hybrid learning models for preschoolers, meaning that some remote learning days are built into the in-person schedule – we’re already seeing this in coastal districts that are impacted by severe weather. This is, of course, a monumental challenge for preschool teachers, but thankfully the National Association of State Boards of Education has updated its policy for Remote Learning in Early Childhood Education to provide an effective model for school boards and educators.

Artificial Intelligence: With Artificial Intelligence (AI) helping your banking transactions via virtual assistants and getting you a quote on car insurance, it’s no surprise to discover AI tools being increasingly utilized in the area of early childhood education. The intent, of course, is to enhance the development and learning of young children and aid in teaching as well. And since it is one of the most prolific technology trends in early childhood education, it is imperative that AI is on your radar as a preschool educator. Introducing children to AI at a young age boosts their readiness for STEM, which in turn cultivates their overall academic growth.

Mobile Device Use/Apps: It’s not simply computers and smart boards; technology trends in early education are also taking advantage of those on-the-go devices that have become ubiquitous with adults – tablets and apps. Your district or school may have recommended and/or approved apps that can be used in your classroom, but there are many more resources available of the best educational apps for kids, some of which are appropriate for preschool-aged children.


Now, it’s time for some homework. For further reading, here are some scholarly works, studies, and other resources related to trends in early childhood education, as well as technology trends in early childhood education.

Want an easier way to keep up with current trends in early childhood education, including technology trends?

If this article has piqued your interest and you’re ready to invest in furthering your education, consider taking one, or several, of our courses designed to help preschool professionals keep pace with current trends in early childhood education. That includes:

  • Coding in Early Childhood Education, which provides you with an understanding of how to support young children’s learning of coding and computational thinking through hands-on, playful, and creative ways. Additionally, you will learn what coding is and how it can be used to support self-expression and creativity during the foundational early childhood years.
  • Robotics In Early Childhood Education: Hands-On and Playful Approaches, which provides you with an understanding of the benefits of using educational robotics kits in early childhood settings. The course explores foundational facts about robotics, programming, and engineering, and you will also discover ways to incorporate robotics activities to support creativity, play, and hands-on learning in your classroom.
  • Technology and Social Media Policy in the Early Care and Education Environment, which examines the impact of digital technologies, the Internet, and social media on the early care and education environment and offers recommended strategies and best practices for using technological tools.

If you want to stay up to date on trends in early childhood education, CCEI has you covered with a catalog of 150+ online courses that can be accessed 24/7/365. Visit CCEI online to learn more about our entire range of offerings so you can be the best educator possible!