Nature Play On Vancouver Island

Nature Kindergarten On Vancouver Island

Nurturing Self Regulation

I read recently that teaching five year olds is like keeping crickets in a basket. When you open the lid to add a few more crickets, the others jump out. It seems apparent then that all adults who spend time with young children play an important role in helping children develop those important skills to self monitor and control their emotional and cognitive behaviour. It is during the early years when children make tremendous leaps in cognitive and emotional self regulation. In Preschool and Kindergarten children learn to share resources, wait their turn, clean up when asked or listen actively. 

Of course there will be spontaneous growth in both cognitive and social emotional SR for all children, but I think that, especially for our vulnerable students, we must intentionally teach, support and scaffold children's growth in this important area. For example, when planning the flow of a Kindergarten day you can choose specific strategies such as quiet/busy blocks, predictable timetables, simple rules, active learning (play based with a emphasis on process learning) and intentionally build independence using the guided release model. 

I think that one of the primary reasons that our BC curriculum prioritizes play as the largest block of a Kindergarten child's day reflects the need for children to learn SR through playful learning i.e.: making a plan, compromising, reflecting, persisting and taking risks. As an outdoor educator I see every day that children benefit from their self directed nature learning and that SR is one of the largest growth areas for my students.
These are a few strategies that most kindergarten teachers use to build SR in their students and are recommended by Ida Rose Florez in her article Building Young Children's Self Regulation Through Everyday Experiences which I work hard to include in my kindergarten program:
  • model behavior and language
  • scaffold to help bridge the gap between where the child is and what needs to be learned next 
  • hints and cues-simple directions, gestures and touch
  • gradual release model -slowly removing support as the child's skills increases

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