January is usually a challenging month in child care programs as children get back into the flow of the routine after the holidays. It remains to be seen if the effects of the stress of 2020 will add to the challenges of the New Year transition.
It may be your intention to get right back to work and jump right into curriculum planning. Be sure to consider the needs of the children in your care before leaping back into your daily routine. Help children ease into the expectations and demands of the classroom. Adjust your expectations, as children may have regressed in their skills and behaviors over the winter break or while at home for the holidays.
Here are a few ways you can continue to reach your academic standards while supporting children’s needs:
- Allow more time for play. Give children extra time to play with materials of their choice that may or may not be related to the curriculum. Use this time to observe their skills and actions. Collect data on how children are functioning as individuals and as a group. This information can be used to make decisions about any skills you need to revisit or work to strengthen.
- Give more time for daily routines. Allow children a little extra time for cleaning up, eating, putting on their coats, and other stressful times of day. While they may have spent August-December becoming more efficient at these tasks, they may need a bit more time to readjust to the routine.
- Patiently review expectations. You may think that children have been with you for a few months now, they should know what is expected of them. This may be true; cognitively they can tell you the class rules, but emotionally, they need to readjust to the stress of being with a large group, competing for materials and attention, and managing their emotional reactions.
- Teach self-calming strategies the same way you teach academic skills. Dedicate portions of large group time to practicing deep breathing, guided visualizations, yoga/stretching, and problem-solving. Recognize that these skills are just as important as academic skills in early childhood. In fact, the lack of these skills can impede academic development in some children. Remember you are there to teach the whole child- in all areas of development.
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For the main article Stress Reduction in the New Year, CLICK HERE
For the article Self-Care in the New Year, CLICK HERE
For the article Offer Family Support, CLICK HERE
For the article Committing to Positivity with Your Team, CLICK HERE