May 2024 Newsletter – Impact of Trauma on Children: How Do We Meet the Needs of Families Whose Children Have Experienced Trauma?

How Do We Meet the Needs of Families Whose Children Have Experienced Trauma? 

Early childhood educators not only serve the children in their care, we also serve the families of those children. When a child experiences a traumatic event, it is probable that family members have also lived through that traumatic event. In order to benefit all involved in helping a child overcome their trauma experience, it is imperative that we use a trauma-informed approach when interacting with families.

How do we meet the needs of families that have experienced trauma? In order to help children heal, educators must partner with families. Recovering from trauma involves the support of both educators and family members. Working with families that have experienced trauma can be challenging if not approached in a proper and delicate way.

As educators, we need to reduce any anxiety or stress that meeting with families may bring. Much of our own anxiety can be addressed through ongoing education about best practices and trauma-informed care. Strengthen your understanding of trauma and fill your toolbox with strategies you feel confident implementing.

Here are some things to keep in mind when working with families:

  • Engage and include families in the program in caring, nonjudgmental ways.
  • Communicate through multiple means and use each family’s primarily preferred method of communication whenever possible.
  • Invite families to the classroom to volunteer, spend time with their children, and strengthen relationships between all parties. Recognize that this might be an additional stressor for families, and it should not be forced.

When collaborating with families, it may be beneficial to hold regularly scheduled meetings. Use these opportunities with families to deepen your connection by learning more about their home lives and offering space for them to ask questions about the program. When meeting with families:

  • Ensure that they feel physically and emotionally safe. Calmly and warmly greeting and speaking with families can ease anxiety.
  • Be transparent and trustworthy. Let families know what you want to discuss. Make sure that families understand that the purpose of all meetings is to work together to help the child heal and thrive.
  • Identify opportunities to create consistency between home and school. Share strategies that seem effective at school and learn about how families support children at home. Include families in decisions and build a sense of shared intention. Family engagement only works if there is a true collaboration.
  • If a family member becomes upset or agitated, acknowledge their feelings, redirect the conversation back to the best interests of the child, and calmly suggest that a break should be taken.
  • If a child is working with an outside specialist (such as a trauma specialist or a child therapist), ask for the family’s permission to invite the specialist to the classroom so that you can collaborate to better support the child. Work with both specialists and families to create action plans that support children’s positive behaviors, development, and learning.

To better serve our families it is best to apply the same trauma-sensitive lenses to families that are used to help children heal. Regardless of the specific strategies used, building a sense of security, trust, and consistency will be required.

 

For the main article Impact of Trauma on Children, CLICK HERE

For the article The Impact of Traumatic Events, CLICK HERE

For the article Recognizing the Signs of Trauma and Traumatic Stress in Children, CLICK HERE

For the article Helping Children Who Have Experienced Trauma, CLICK HERE

May 2024 Newsletter – Impact of Trauma on Children: Helping Children Who Have Experienced Trauma

Helping Children Who Have Experienced Trauma

With the high percentage of children in our classrooms who have experienced traumatic events or adverse childhood experiences, how do we help our students be successful? The first step is recognizing signs of trauma and then using trauma-informed practices in our classrooms. As educators, there are several ways we can support the children in our classrooms.

  • Create trusting, caring, and responsive relationships with children
  • Create safe and predictable environments where students can thrive
  • Learn to identify patterns of behavior and possible triggers in the classroom
  • Build positive behavior supports
  • Implement social-emotional learning strategies
  • Help students learn tools to self-regulate
  • Practice and model self-care strategies

Not all strategies will work for all children. Different traumas may result in different triggers and stressors, so we need to be aware of what works for each individual child.

How do we help children in a classroom with so many individual needs?  We can use some of the following strategies in our classrooms to help children who have experienced trauma.

  • Create consistent routines. Stability helps children understand that the world can be a safe place. Creating and maintaining a consistent daily routine in the classroom can help children feel empowered when they know the order of events and how they will be carried out.  Inform children when something out of the ordinary is going to occur or when a change in the routine is going to happen to help them feel more secure throughout the day.
  • Anticipate difficult periods and transitions during the school day and offer extra support during these times.
  • Offer children developmentally appropriate choices. Children can feel more in control and empowered if they are able to make even the smallest choices throughout the day.
  • Use techniques to support children’s self-regulation. Introduce deep breathing and other centering activities that can help children self-regulate. You can learn more about these types of activities in the CCEI course SOC106: The Value of Mindfulness in Early Childhood Settings.
  • Understand that children make sense of their experiences by reenacting them in play or through interactions with peers or adults. Teachers can help children manage their feelings by remaining composed and offering empathy and support.  Rather than becoming angry, calmly initiate healthy interactions. Be nurturing and affectionate but also sensitive to children’s individual triggers.
  • Assure children that they are safe and that you are a safe person they can come to for help. Explain that they are not responsible for what has occurred. Children often blame themselves for events that are completely out of their control. Reassure them that they do not need to feel guilty or bad about any feelings or thoughts they may be experiencing.
    • Use positive guidance to help all children. Strive to create supportive interventions to guide children to appropriate activities.  CCEI offers 3 courses on positive guidance that you might find helpful:

With support, many children who experience traumatic events are able to recover and thrive. As a caring adult, you play an important role in helping them through this traumatic event.  Be patient, some children will recover quickly while others recover more slowly.  Seek the help of a trained professional when needed. A mental health professional trained in evidence-based trauma treatment can help children and families cope and move toward recovery.

 

For the main article Impact of Trauma on Children, CLICK HERE

For the article The Impact of Traumatic Events, CLICK HERE

For the article Recognizing the Signs of Trauma and Traumatic Stress in Children, CLICK HERE

For the article How Do We Meet the Needs of Families Whose Children Have Experienced Trauma?, CLICK HERE

May 2024 Newsletter – Impact of Trauma on Children: Recognizing the Signs of Trauma and Traumatic Stress in Children

Recognizing the Signs of Trauma and Traumatic Stress in Children

A great number of young children experience one or more traumatic events and associated Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). These experiences can have a lasting effect on the well-being of children. Studies have found that the greater the number of ACEs a child is exposed to, the greater the chances they will have physical and mental health conditions throughout their life.

Traumatic events can cause reactions that impact their daily lives. These reactions are known as Child Traumatic Stress. These stress symptoms may develop as the child attempts to manage negative emotions that emerge in response to memories of the event. The symptoms may be seen immediately or show up later. They may also continue for days, weeks, or months after the traumatic experience and may resurface at different periods throughout a young child’s life. Some children may be more susceptible to developing traumatic stress reactions than others.

What are some signs and symptoms that we should be able to recognize as a possible result of Child Traumatic Stress? The signs and symptoms of traumatic stress look different in each child and at different ages, making it difficult to recognize. Young children may exhibit some of the following stress-related symptoms:

  • Feelings of helplessness and uncertainty
  • Fear of being separated from their caregivers
  • Excessive crying
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Bedwetting or regression in toileting skills
  • Regressions in speech and/or language development
  • Delays in meeting expected developmental milestones
  • New fears
  • Nightmares
  • Recreating the trauma through their play
  • Concerns or questions about death

These symptoms of childhood trauma, difficulties learning, playing, communicating, interacting, and creating relationships are often misunderstood and viewed as intentional acts, or they are diagnosed as disorders not specifically related to trauma.

To fully understand children’s challenging behaviors, a teacher must communicate with families regularly to understand whether the behaviors seen in the classroom might be connected to traumatic experiences. Children who have experienced trauma need loving and nurturing adults who can support them.

Studies have found that a young child’s brain can change and reorganize in response to new experiences. Having healthy and consistent interactions with early childhood educators can greatly influence their brain development and their ability to engage successfully in an early learning environment. As educators, we need to recognize these traumatic stress symptoms and use trauma-informed practices in our classrooms to the benefit of all children.

 

For the main article Impact of Trauma on Children, CLICK HERE

For the article The Impact of Traumatic Events, CLICK HERE

For the article Helping Children Who Have Experienced Trauma, CLICK HERE

For the article How Do We Meet the Needs of Families Whose Children Have Experienced Trauma?, CLICK HERE

May 2024 Newsletter – Impact of Trauma on Children: The Impact of Traumatic Events

The Impact of Traumatic Events

A traumatic event is a scary, dangerous, or violent event, it may occur directly to an individual. An individual may simply just be a witness to a traumatic event for a lasting impact to occur. Traumatic events can cause emotional and physical reactions that can continue long after the event has occurred. Traumatic events can occur from outside the family or within the family. These events can include but are not limited to, physical, sexual, or psychological abuse and neglect, natural disasters, family or community violence, terrorism and school shootings, discrimination, prejudice and racism, or the sudden loss of a loved one. Substance abuse, incarceration of a parent, serious accidents and illnesses, and military family-related stressors.

Children who have faced one or more traumatic events may develop signs of Child Traumatic Stress. The effects of traumatic experiences that occur to children aged 0-6 may be a little more difficult to evaluate. Young children’s reactions may be different from older children’s, and because they may not be able to verbalize their reactions to threatening or dangerous events, many people assume that young age protects children from the impact of traumatic experiences.

Research has established that young children may be affected by events that threaten their safety or the safety of their parents and caregivers, and their symptoms have been well documented.  Research has found that over a quarter of children have experienced at least one traumatic event before the age of four, and many have experienced multiple traumas in their young lives. Young brains that are still rapidly developing can be greatly affected by trauma.

Early childhood trauma has been associated with reduced size of the brain cortex. This area of the brain is responsible for many complex functions including memory, attention, perceptual awareness, thinking, and language development. These changes may affect IQ and the ability to regulate emotions, and the child may become more fearful and may not feel as safe or as protected.

Young children experience both behavioral and physiological symptoms associated with trauma. Unlike older children, young children may not be able to express in words whether they feel afraid, overwhelmed, or helpless. Young children suffering from traumatic stress symptoms generally have difficulty regulating their behaviors and emotions. They may be clingy and fearful of new situations, easily frightened, difficult to console, and aggressive and impulsive. They may also have difficulty sleeping, lose recently acquired developmental skills, and show regression in functioning and behavior.

Not all children are affected in the same way or degree by traumatic events. Children can be protected from long-term harm of traumatic events by having the reliable presence of a positive,  caring, and protective parent or caregiver who can help shield children against adverse experiences. These individuals can be a consistent resource for their children, encourage them to talk about their experiences, and provide reassurance to their children. As early childhood educators, we can be one of those positive people for a child who has experienced trauma.

 

For the main article Impact of Trauma on Children, CLICK HERE

For the article Recognizing the Signs of Trauma and Traumatic Stress in Children, CLICK HERE

For the article Helping Children Who Have Experienced Trauma, CLICK HERE

For the article How Do We Meet the Needs of Families Whose Children Have Experienced Trauma?, CLICK HERE

May 2024 Newsletter – Impact of Trauma on Children

Impact of Trauma on Children

Traumatic events are frightening, dangerous, or violent events that can threaten someone’s life or well-being. Many different events can cause trauma, and the emotions and physical reactions they cause can continue long after the event has occurred. Trauma and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) can have lasting effects on the individual’s daily functioning including possible changes in mental, physical, social, emotional, and spiritual health.

Statistics show that 26% of children will experience a traumatic event before the age of four. Over a quarter of the children in our classrooms have experienced at least one traumatic or adverse childhood event. How do we help this large percentage of children in our care? How do we teach children facing such trauma?

In this month’s newsletter, we will look at traumatic events, adverse childhood events, and the impact these experiences have on young children. We will explore how to recognize the signs of trauma and traumatic stress in the children we care for. The newsletter will also cover how to help the children who have experienced trauma and how we can help meet the needs of the families we serve whose children have experienced trauma. We will also delve into how trauma-informed practices in our classrooms can benefit all of the children we teach and care for.

 

For the article The Impact of Traumatic Events, CLICK HERE

For the article Recognizing the Signs of Trauma and Traumatic Stress in Children, CLICK HERE

For the article Helping Children Who Have Experienced Trauma, CLICK HERE

For the article How Do We Meet the Needs of Families Whose Children Have Experienced Trauma?, CLICK HERE

April 2024 Newsletter – Classroom Management: Effective Transitions

Effective Transitions

Asking children to stop what they are doing and change directions to start something new can cause strong emotions for some children. This is where possibly the most important classroom management skill comes into play: mastering transition time, which is a key factor for a well-managed classroom.

Moving from one element of the daily routine to another can be easily facilitated by creative and engaging transition activities.  There are several time-tested strategies we can implement that are both effective and fun:

  • Establish clear expectations for children. For every transition, they need to understand what is happening next, what they are expected to do, and where they need to be. When a new transition is required, be sure to introduce it during group meetings and explain the reason for it.
  • It is important that the transition activities you choose help bridge the space between activities. This means that the energy of the transition activity should align with the energy level of the next activity.  The best example may be to consider what not to do – you would not have children transition to naptime by doing 20 jumping jacks.  Instead, pick a calming activity to set the stage for nap time.
  • Provide advanced warning prior to asking children to transition, especially for children who struggle with changing gears; they may need even more warning than other children.
  • Visual cues can be implemented to support transitions, which is more important the younger our children are.  Incorporate visual clues such as countdown clocks and visual schedules, which can help the children understand the timing and sequence of transitions. Use consistent signals as cues to when an activity begins and ends, this may be a sound or a song that the students associate with transitioning to the next task.
  • An important part of mastering transitions is practice. Take the time to practice transitions with the students until they become familiar with the routine. Be positive and encouraging, and praise students who transition smoothly.
  • As with most things being well prepared goes a long way. Plan activities and have materials prepared to minimize any downtime between activities. Prepare for the unexpected by having a reserve of engaging transitional activities you can turn to if an activity does not seem to be working as intended.

Transitions may not always go as planned and routines may be off. Be flexible and adapt. If the transition routines you have in place are not working, adjust them or make new ones. The key to good transitions is consistency. Consistently implement your transition routine. Practice, patience, and support will soon have you and your students mastering transition time.

 

For the main article What is Classroom Management and Why is it Important?, CLICK HERE

For the article Well-Managed Classrooms Make for Positive Learning Environments, CLICK HERE

For the article Classroom Management Strategies, CLICK HERE

For the article Consistent Routines, CLICK HERE

April 2024 Newsletter – Classroom Management: Consistent Routines

Consistent Routines

An essential way to keep a well-managed classroom is to set consistent routines and schedules. Routines are structured and predictable sequences of activities throughout the school day that help establish a sense of order and consistency. They typically involve various daily routines, such as morning greetings, group times, snacks and lunchtime, playtime, rest time, and outdoor play. Classroom routines can involve the entire class or even just small groups or individual children.

Why are classroom routines important? Consistent routines and schedules help young children learn the flow of the day and what to expect from one day to the next. By establishing routines and following schedules teachers help children feel confident and comfortable knowing what is happening in the classroom. This structure can create a sense of safety and ease within their learning environment. Providing this sense of safety and comfort is essential in an ECE setting, where children are learning about the world and who they can trust.

Classroom routines also help foster social and emotional development, helping children build essential skills such as cooperation and emotional regulation. The comfort that routines provide children is conducive to learning skills across the developmental continuum as calm and secure children are better able to take in new information.

Within each element of the daily routine, there are even smaller routines. Let’s take a look at an example  of a few strategies for establishing consistent routines throughout the daily schedule:

  • Morning routines are essential. This is one of the most active and busiest parts of the day. Routines to start the day include greeting children and families, washing hands, and storing belongings in appropriate places. These elements set the stage for the rest of the morning. Greetings should be warm and welcoming, and their belongings should be kept in bins or cubbies that are personalized and special to them.
  • Class meetings and large group gatherings should be part of the routine in most classrooms. The activities within these meeting times should also remain somewhat consistent, perhaps including creative attendance taking, sharing of news from home, announcements, and reading stories. These large group times should be reserved for topics that apply to the large group.  We know that children develop cognitive skills at different rates and that children have different interests, meaning that most traditional circle time elements may be better suited to small group activities.
  • Routines surrounding meals and snacks encompass many moving parts. Be sure that the steps children need to take are realistic based on children’s developmental abilities.  Break these large elements down into smaller chunks. Create a routine for handwashing, setting the table, passing food around the table (if you use family-style dining), and clearing the table.  Create expectations for each step, and turn those steps into a song or poem to help children remember what they need to do along the way.  Singing a song or reminding children of their responsibilities using a catchphrase can be less punitive than constant prompts and reminders.
  • Clean-up time can be overwhelming for young children, but it is one of the most important routines that can be established in a classroom. Cleaning up builds a sense of responsibility for the classroom community and teamwork as children work together to accomplish the task. Again, set the expectations for what “cleaned-up” looks like.  Take pictures of materials and adhere them to the shelves and storage bins to make it easier for children to clean up independently.  Turn clean-up into a game, where each child is assigned a different shaped block to clean up, which reinforces shape identification skills.
  • Outdoor time is full of fun and energetic explorations. Weather conditions play a big role in whether children are able to explore outdoors. Teachers should have contingency plans in place to allow children to expend energy indoors on days of inclement weather.
  • Teachers can keep children on track by posting easy-to-follow schedules in the classroom. Refer to the schedule throughout the day, especially at the beginning of the school year, when changes are made to the routine, and when new children join the group.
  • Whenever possible, inform children about changes to the routine in advance. Remind them several times that a change to the schedule will happen on Friday because a visitor is coming to perform for them. Talk about the expectations for that activity well in advance, and share the information with families so they can have similar conversations at home.

Classroom routines save time, comfort children, and help the day run smoother. If the routines you have in place are not working, change them or create new ones. The goal is to provide the best environment possible.

 

For the main article What is Classroom Management and Why is it Important?, CLICK HERE

For the article Well-Managed Classrooms Make for Positive Learning Environments, CLICK HERE

For the article Classroom Management Strategies, CLICK HERE

For the article Effective Transitions, CLICK HERE

April 2024 Newsletter – Classroom Management: Classroom Management Strategies

Classroom Management Strategies

Classroom management strategies support learning and provide the appropriate environment where students can thrive and develop. Whether your classroom consists of toddlers or 4-year-olds heading off to kindergarten, providing an appropriate environment that fosters learning is a crucial part of an educator’s job.

Let’s look at some strategies for creating engaging and enjoyable learning environments. It is important to remember to adapt these strategies to match children’s ages and needs.

  • Establish strong relationships with children. Build bonds with children. Show them respect and assure them that you are there to help them whenever they need you.  Communicate gently and model cooperation. Doing so builds trust.
  • A well-managed classroom has clear expectations. Rules and expectations should be clearly defined for children. Create a list of positive phrases that communicate the expected behaviors children should use in the classroom. Post these expectations prominently in the classroom, using both words and illustrations. Review the expectations frequently and as necessary when issues arise. Employ logical consequences and problem-solving strategies to address behaviors that do not align with the expectations.
  • Recognize children who are engaging in the behavior you expect to see. You do not need to give away stickers or prizes; simply acknowledge children’s actions that align with the expectations. Thank the children for helping to clean up. Recognize their efforts, even if their attempts fall short of expectations because doing so can encourage them to keep trying.
  • Evaluate the physical layout of the room to determine whether a different arrangement would be more effective. Eliminate runways to prevent running indoors. Move the block area to a corner of the classroom to protect builders and their work. ECE classrooms should offer a wide variety of well-organized materials to prevent clutter. Rotate materials to create novelty and avoid excess materials that can be overwhelming.
  • Plan developmentally appropriate activities that reflect children’s interests and abilities. Gather all materials and be prepared for activities to reduce children’s wait time. Have alternative plans in place in case the lesson falls flat or is wrapped up more quickly than expected. Be flexible and follow the children’s lead.
  • A classroom management strategy that is often overlooked is effective communication with families in an effort to create consistency between home and school. Families can offer insight into children’s unique needs and interests. It is helpful to communicate routines and expectations with families so they can talk with their children about these classroom elements. Keep lines of communication open but be sure to share more positive anecdotes with families to keep relationships strong.

In addition to these strategies, establishing clear routines and transitions are also elements of a well-managed classroom.  Keep reading to learn more.

 

For the main article Well-Managed Classrooms Make for Positive Learning Environments, CLICK HERE

For the article What is Classroom Management and Why is it Important?, CLICK HERE

For the article Consistent Routines, CLICK HERE

For the article Effective Transitions, CLICK HERE

April 2024 Newsletter – Classroom Management: What is Classroom Management and Why is it Important?

What is Classroom Management and Why is it Important?

Being an educator is rewarding and demanding work. Leading a classroom of young children is fulfilling, but it can present many challenges. Successfully implementing planned activities is a skill that all early childhood educators must attain and develop. To fully meet the needs of curious and energetic young children, educators must employ skills that extend beyond the planned lessons of the day

What is classroom management? Classroom management includes all the tools, skills, and activities that educators use to keep students focused, engaged, and organized throughout the day. Teachers can implement a wide array of strategies that have been well-tested over time to maintain an orderly classroom environment. However, it is also necessary that educators adapt these strategies to meet the needs of specific children in the classroom.

So, why is classroom management so important in a preschool setting? A well-managed classroom ensures an environment that is conducive to learning. These classrooms are spaces where toddlers and preschoolers can develop cognitively, socially, and emotionally with the support of trusted adults. It is crucial for children to learn social and emotional skills during the preschool years.  Research has found that healthy social-emotional development is essential for future academic success.

As early childhood educators we must foster the appropriate environment where this development can occur. Good classroom management also helps provide safe classrooms for our children. Disruptive behaviors can present safety hazards in the classroom for students and teachers. A well-managed classroom can make a teacher’s job easier by reducing stress for both children and teachers.  When students are appropriately engaged, there are fewer conflicts and supervision becomes easier.

Developing strategies for operating a well-run classroom should be a top priority for ECE professionals. Many tools and resources are available. Not every strategy will work perfectly the first time it is employed. It is important that teachers are responsive to the needs of the children in the group and match strategies to the needs children are communicating.  Check out the rest of the newsletter to learn more.

 

For the main article Well-Managed Classrooms Make for Positive Learning Environments, CLICK HERE

For the article Classroom Management Strategies, CLICK HERE

For the article Consistent Routines, CLICK HERE

For the article Effective Transitions, CLICK HERE

April 2024 Newsletter – Classroom Management: Well-Managed Classrooms Make for Positive Learning Environments

Well-Managed Classrooms Make for Positive Learning Environments

Providing a nurturing and stable learning environment for the children in our classrooms is a primary goal for every early childhood educator. Effective classroom management depends on educators employing multiple skills and competencies.  Educators use classroom management strategies to guide behavior, engage students, and facilitate learning. Effectively managing the classroom may be one of the most challenging and difficult skills an early childhood educator must master.

Students of different ages will require different strategies, but the goal remains the same, create a caring classroom environment that supports children’s learning and development across all domains of learning. This must be intentionally planned by the educator, in order to produce the desired results.  Understanding the importance of effective classroom management, and the impact it has on the children’s ability to learn is crucial for every early childhood educator.

In this month’s newsletter, we will explore classroom management and why it is important. We will discuss different strategies for managing your classroom effectively, including the importance of routines and transitions. We will also explore how these strategies support healthy social and emotional development.

 

For the article What is Classroom Management and Why is it Important?, CLICK HERE

For the article Classroom Management Strategies, CLICK HERE

For the article Consistent Routines, CLICK HERE

For the article Effective Transitions, CLICK HERE