Origins Learning Community

Our Blog

Welcome to our Blog Page. This is where we will be sharing our passion for early childhood education and supporting young children's whole child development with you. Especially Social- Emotional Development! If you ever have any questions or comments about our blog, you can reach out to us through our Contact Us page and we will respond to you within 48 hours. Happy reading!

The Cost of Social Emotional Learning- Are We really Taking Advantage of What is Out There?

October 11th, 2020

I agree Social Emotional Learning can be one more added expense and energy for our schools but it does not need to be expensive in the sense that so much of it is part of the daily routine. It is how we interact with the children throughout the day and help them resolve conflicts when necessary. 


Some years I spent very little on SEL curriculum, creating home spun games and activities from what I had previously learned. Other years I blew about $300-$500 on SEL curriculum. For instance, I was given the Second Step Violence Prevention Kit at a Montessori school on a tribal reservation I used to work at. The children and I loved using it and I found it helpful and meaningful to the children with a few exceptions that some of the lessons were really for older kindergarten children. I liked it so much, I purchased it again when I owned my family home childcare. I decided to buy it because, when I actually added up the cost to make my on similar kit, it would have actually cost me more!


I also look at a teacher like me who is obsessed with everything early childhood and anything social-emotional. I am willing to pay for and attend trainings or buy books on my own. Yet studies keep showing it is not trainings and books that help teachers gain Social Emotional Learning skills; it is being coached by someone else that really matter.


 Now I'm a "create my own lesson plans based on my children's interests and needs" kind of teacher, but many schools and teachers aren't. Not so long ago, I did observations in centers that were given learning curriculum for free through a grant. This curriculum included free resources for implementing a social-emotional component with the children. When I asked all the teachers I observed about the social-emotional component, none of them were doing it. They saw it as less important as the cognitive and linguistic activities. As optional "fluff". Interesting enough, they also were not using the physical development portion of the curriculum either. Another critical component of whole child development.


I have worked with programs who do not use any SEL in their classrooms’, but their storage closets are filled with Conscious Discipline, Second Step, Creative Curriculum, and HighScope SEL materials. All that money gone to waste, collecting dust in closets. So yes, a lot of money is being wasted each year through taxpayer’s hard earned money AND no results are being seen by many critics. Maybe it ‘s about time all of those materials and kits actually got used so the children can get all of their needs met?


How is data being collected? Who is being held accountable? And how can some schools complain about children's behavior when they are choosing to not support the children's social emotional development with the resources they have available these days?

SEL Memoires 2: Everywhere I Went, it Was Different Yet the Same

October 10th 2020

Some places I started with an already established group of children who were used to a certain classroom climate. Other times I was starting with a whole new group of children who had never met me or each other.


I worked with different families from different cultures in different environment. For instance, some places it took me longer to develop trusting relationships with families than others. I found my relationship with the parents was key to helping a child replace antisocial behavior with prosocial behavior.


Routines and Schedules- Some places I only got to see the children 2-3 times per week or 1/2 day while other places I saw them on a daily basis for 8-10 hours a day. The more I saw children, the easier it was to support their social-emotional development.


What the process looked like for me starting off was much different than after I had gained some experience and could implement many different techniques and curriculum at once.


My first time around, in that classroom, I was a mess and had to take baby steps. This was a classroom with a lot of hitting, kicking, tantrums, calling people nasty names (and they were 2 1/2 to 6). It took a good month to get used to learning the conflict resolution skills and another month before children began using them and I actually saw classroom physical aggression go down. In some classrooms it would actually go up at first for about a week before going down again. You have to be able to ride this out.


After a month into the conflict resolution skills, I began using parts of a second step kit I found collecting dust in the school basement. A child psychologist who visited the school a few times helped me pick out what would be the best lessons for my mixed age group. She also helped me weave dramatic play activities into my Montessori environment as a way of helping the children cope with trauma they had experienced.


By December, parents in the school finally began to connect with me and trust me. I noticed significant improvement in the children's behavior by this time. The children became very affectionate towards me and began calling me "aunty". I was told this was a sign in the tribal community that I was respected and loved by them as a caregiver. It was supposed to be a big deal to be called this.


After that, my years using positive guidance and SEL as a teacher got easier. It was merely a matter of further professional development, self-reflection and having different "tools" at hand to support the children with. I learned about different progressive ways to implement curriculum that further supported my passion for SEL.


With all this being said, I usually guide teachers new to SEL and positive guidance in the following ways:

1. We use a teacher action plan or SMART Goals Coaching sheet to keep track of how the teacher is building ongoing skills. We want what they do to be sustainable. We try to set a new ongoing goal every 2 weeks to a month, but some teachers have difficulty with the idea of reflection and professional growth than others.

2. Begin with bonding- without attachment and attunement to the child and their family you cannot make any progress. I help teachers come up with daily routines and ways of connecting with the children during choice times that will help them continue to connect with the children each day, every day. How do you communicate with families about children's behaviors? Bonding with child- serve and return activities.

3. Problem Solving- What does it look like for their age group, what is the teacher's supporting role, and how do they acclimate it into their daily routine? Why do we not force children to say sorry? What does it mean to give them choices? How do you communicate with families about children's progress with this? At this point, I advocate hard for the time out chair or sticker charts to go away.

4. Social-Emotional Curriculum- Balancing out the lesson plans with fun, meaningful activities that help the children connect with each other, feel as if they are an important contributor to a classroom community where they are unconditionally accepted. Serve and return, emotion regulation, using literature and creative activities to talk about emotions feelings, social issues.

5. The environment and routines themselves- Do they support child-centered, play-based learning? Is curriculum planned with the children's interests, cultures and own thought process in mind?

6. Modeling your own behavior in appropriate ways with the children. If you practice healthy social emotional skills, the young child will follow suit.

SEL Memoires 1: Letting Go of Punishments and Rewards

October 9th, 2020

My journey as a toddler and preschool teacher was an incredible one. I'm glad I was willing to be vulnerable enough to practice using new guidance skills and implement a variety of SEL curriculum. When I first started out learning conflict resolution skills 26 years ago, I made a bracelet for myself out of 1/4 of an index card and yarn with the steps written down to help me remember what to say when talking with the children. When they asked me what I was doing, I explained I was learning a new way to help everyone in the classroom talk to each other so we can have even more fun together. 


A child said, "Teachers don't learn, they teach." I replied, "Well, I do both. There is something called college. It's a school for grownups and I go whenever I have the money." I had a room of children 2 1/2 to 6 years old. The older children in the room were fascinated I would actually pay money to go to school!


At first the children were not too sure about my new ideas for solving problems and often asked, "Aren't you going to put him in time out?"

"No", I said, "I don't think time out has been working. I think we should try this for a while and see how we like it."


"You left the stickers out on the shelf." a child said.


"Oh, I did that on purpose." I said.


"Why, what if someone acts bad and gets them."


"We don't have any bad people in here. Only good people learning to get along with each other. Use the stickers however you like. Make art with them. Make stories with them."


Caleb said, "Will you always be our teacher."


"Well, until you get older and go to elementary school."


R.J. said, "I don't want to get older."

I Miss My CDA Students!- A Message from Executive Director, Regina Puckett

2020

Our CDA Program cohort for 2020 launched this past Saturday, January 18th. We are excited to have 11 teachers and directors I have been training, mentoring, tutoring and coaching in the classroom. All of the students are in the class on a well-deserved scholarship! 


We want to give a big shout out to Kids R Kids Stafford for donating space on Saturdays for us to use. And we want to give a big thanks to Barbara Mather, their wonderful education coordinator and trainer, for her support and hospitality. She and Michael Palmer has helped me set up and break down the class every week. We are lucky enough to have Barbara as a part of our team at Origins Learning Community!


Our first day was an opportunity to become familiar with Origins Learning Community's unique CDA program and the CDA materials. But most importantly, it was an opportunity for all of us to get to know each other as people and early childhood educators. Thank you to all of the students in the cohort for sharing their time and energy with me. The days we spent together have been wonderful for me. It has also been great to visit each of them in their classroom and to personally support their professional development.


We made it all the way to our Physical Development class but unfortunately, because of the Corona-virus epidemic, we had to put our in-person CDA classes on hold. We are grateful to the students for their patience as we work on a remote option that will work for them.


To all of my CDA students... I miss you and look forward to seeing you again soon! Thanks for the emails and text messages. It means the world to me. With Support... Regina

Get Out- Virtually That is! Things for Families of Young Children to Do From Their Home.

March 20th, 2020

It can be hard to find  supportive resources for young children who are cooped up inside for hours or days at a time when most resources are geared toward older children. We have found some gooD ones for you though! Check out the National Association for the Education of Young Children's webpage giving families ideas for spending quality time with their young children at home. Everything from making bath time math time literacy and singing ideas to do with your children.

https://www.naeyc.org/our-work/for-families

PBS.org has some wonderful resources about de-stressing and planning fun activities with your young  children.

https://www.pbs.org/parents/thrive/how-you-and-your-kids-can-de-stress-during-coronavirus

This article, from a news station in Utah, has tons of in-house ideas to do with children of all ages!

https://kutv.com/news/coronavirus/giant-list-of-things-to-do-with-your-kids-during-the-coronavirus

As we find more, we will share them with you! All our support!


The Coronavirus- Keeping Your Children Emotionally Safe During This Difficult Time

March 16th, 2020

    By now most parents and schools have been sent many emails from various sources concerning COVID-19. The CDC and HealthyChildren.org have accurate and helpful information on their websites about preventing the spread of the virus. I will leave those links in the references down below (:

    Adults are worried and sometimes panicked right now and the main topic of most conversations is about the virus. In childcare centers that have remained opened, many of them are losing half their staff who feel signs of sickness and are afraid to come to work. Others have closed down with no pay compensation to the teachers. Everyone is stressed out right now... and our children are too. 

    The Harvard Center on the Developing Child (2020) calls this type of stress 'tolerable stress" and it could be affecting our children more than we realize. We pass our stress onto them. This can affect their own health and behavior  as they struggle to cope with what is going on around them. There's good news though! "Tolerable stress" doesn't have to turn into what is called "toxic stress" (CDCHU, 2020). We can keep our children safe and talk to them about the the virus in ways that do not feel scary or worrisome (CDC, 2019). Here are a few ideas (:

1. Make health and hygiene activities fun, using hand washing songs as a way to encourage children to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds. Remember, the more lather you make the more germs will get washed down the drain! The NEW York Times has a great article on this! See the link below.

2. Avoiding watching or listening to the news in front of young children at this time. Be cautious of your conversations with other adults. Talking of sickness and death in front of young children can be confusing and scary.

3. Be calm and assure them you will keep them safe and healthy. 

4. Get them outdoors to get some fresh air and have some fun. And join in that fun! Exercise is a great way to combat stress and depression for people of all ages (HHP, 2020).

5. Let your children help you cook!  Many families tell me they are eating at home and avoiding restaurants at this time. If you are planning on cooking meals at home, this is a great way to get little ones to eat healthy. 

     Reach out to us for more information and ideas for coping with the virus. Stay safe, healthy and happy.


Resources:

(2020). Retrieved from https://developingchild.harvard.edu/resources/the-brain-architects-podcast-toxic-stress-protecting-the-foundation/

Center for Disease Control. (2020, March 9). Talking with Children About Coronavirus Disease 2019. Retrieved from CDC.gov: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/talking-with-children.html

Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. (2020, March 16). Stress. Retrieved from Harvard Center on the Developing Child: https://developingchild.harvard.edu/?s=stress

Harvard Medical School. (2020, March 16). Retrieved from Harvard Health Publishing: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/exercising-to-relax

New York Times. (2020, March 13). New York Times. Retrieved from nytimes.com: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/13/health/soap-coronavirus-handwashing-germs.html