Reducing Stress in the Classroom

The CCEI January Newsletter explores ways to reduce stress during the transition into the New Year. There are a number of things that caregivers can do to reduce the level of stress children experience in the learning environment. These practices should be implemented throughout the year to ensure that children have an optimal early learning experience:

  • Establish a consistent schedule that allows children to know what to expect next and to prepare for transitions. This consistency helps children feel comfortable and secure.
  • Set up a routine for daily events like naptime, washing hands, and cleaning up.
  • Concentrate daily on building and nurturing your relationship with each child.
  • Accept, acknowledge, and celebrate individual differences in interests, abilities, and cultural backgrounds.
  • Include plenty of time for self-directed play. This is when children practice social and communication skills and learn to control the objects in their environment. The sense of competence derived from play fosters a positive self-image.
  • Offer choices to children in activities, materials, and directing their own behavior. This helps children learn that they have some control over what they do.
  • Emphasize cooperation and minimize competition. Fostering cooperation helps everyone feel like they have something to contribute and that they are an important part of the group.
  • Display photos of the children in the group and pictures they have drawn.
  • Greet children warmly as they arrive.
  • Listen when children share their ideas. Reflect back what was said in your response.
  • Recognize when children master a skill they have been working on. Be specific about the praise you give. “It used to be hard for you to zip your coat. Now you can do it every time.”
  • Provide activities that are developmentally appropriate and that are open-ended. Use more activities that focus on the process rather than the product. Children will feel more successful.
  • Keep your expectations realistic and convey your confidence by saying, “I know you can do it.”
  • Identify all the things you like about the children and talk about those characteristics often!