You might be surprised to learn it’s not all about ABCs and 123s. In fact, social and emotional literacy are the focus of this key time in your child’s life.
21st Century children, more than any other generations, will need the skills to be innovative and adaptable. To think creatively and critically. And that is something the traditional teaching techniques of repetition and recall simply cannot deliver.
Social and emotional development are key skills children need to function in the world, and skills which form the foundation of their transition into formal schooling and beyond. The development of social and emotional literacy also sets children up for a lifetime of learning. But, these attributes don’t develop overnight or in isolation.
At Guardian Childcare and Education our Educators are skilled at identifying and fostering social and emotional skills across all age groups – from babies and toddlers to preschool and kindergarten-aged children. Our teams collaborate and partner with families through the entire early learning experience to ensure children are being set up for success and supported to develop their own unique view of the world.
Alix Broadhead, Guardian Childcare and Education Curriculum Mentor, says: “We know from multiple studies and neuroscience research that the first five years of a child’s life are a rapid time of growth. We also know that a child’s early experiences shape their identity and the very structure of their brain. That’s why early education is so important for the transition to formal schooling – and why we focus on this from the very beginning of a child’s time with us through what is commonly called ‘play-based learning’.
“Learning through play encourages children to build their knowledge, develop confidence and embrace curiosity. Along the way they naturally refine practical life skills as they explore, experiment, discover and solve problems through play. And importantly, they build their confidence and come to understand that learning is fun and can take many forms.
Quality play-based learning experiences and interactions make a significant difference to children of all ages. We know a child’s brain development can have a lasting effect on their mental health and wellbeing and that positive relationships and rich learning environments promote overall development and enrich learning outcomes.”
These insights have informed Guardian’s approach to learning at all ages. And the tools commonly used within their centres to develop social and emotional wellbeing can also be adopted at home, equipping your child with essential 21st century skills.
Try some of these expert strategies to help your child learn to collaborate and resolve conflicts, problem-solve and make decisions, develop emotional and social resilience and build successful relationships with other children and adults.
Staying calm and being able to self-regulate is a vital skill for children to learn, ideally before they have transitioned into school where they must sit still for periods of time in class, deal with disappointments and become more independent.
According to Gungahlin Centre Manager Shannon Nolan: “Yoga and meditation teach balance, flexibility, and the importance of breathing, which is a key calming strategy we use to help children manage frustrations, conflict and disappointments. The breathing techniques we teach our children can be used as tools throughout their lives. On top of this, yoga offers the children the chance to have a laugh as they try different funny poses with their friends and Educators.”
HOW TO AT HOME: As a parent, you can practise yoga and meditation at home with your child Visit the Guardian Learning Exchange for a mummy and me yoga class: https://www.guardian.edu.au/learning-exchange/mummy-and-me-yoga/
Collaboration is another important skill your child will need in school and in life. Early learning centres like Guardian provide inspiring environments and resources for your child to explore with others and learn valuable collaboration skills; from inventing games with their friends to sharing toys, children are constantly collaborating.
“We often encourage group work within our centre, and across different ages, too. Some of our older children have taken on a nurturing role with our younger children as they play together, and our younger children in terms are exposed to new ways of thinking and learning,” says Shannon. “When children work collaboratively, they have the opportunity to practice skills like listening, problem-solving and learning from one another. These are such important lessons, which is why we encourage this type of interaction from such a young age.”
HOW TO MAINTAIN HEALTHY HABITS AT HOME
You can introduce collaboration at home through playdates, or even joining your child in an activity and letting them take the lead.
Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle
Social and emotional development are key elements of a healthy lifestyle, and they’re underpinned by a nutritious, balanced diet. Food gives your child the energy they need to learn, play and enjoy their day.
“Our in-house cooks provide delicious seasonal menus for the children, which incorporate ingredients that help boost their immunity and keep them healthy and happy. We love to source our ingredients from our very own backyard garden, where we grow different herbs and vegetables,” says Shannon from Guardian Gungahlin
TIPS: If your child is a fussy eater, a tool that works for many Guardian children is to start a veggie patch. Your child will love to taste test what they have grown and will thrive at being part of the end-to-end process. Children also love getting involved in the kitchen, so let them help you prepare a yummy family meal and they’ll be more likely to want to taste test their handy work. You can also take the Guardian lead and turn it into a learning opportunity by getting them counting out measurements, pouring and mixing.
As a parent or caregiver, we want nothing more than to protect our child from disappointment. But this can be detrimental for them in the long run. Key learning experiences are formed through trial and error, so it’s important to let your child know it’s OK to make mistakes. Praise them for their efforts, regardless if they have achieved their goal or not.
“Something we tell our children is to try and try again. Learning from mistakes helps build up a resilient child – one who is capable of picking themselves after a setback. Not giving up is such an important life skill, which is why we encourage this from a young age,” says Shannon.
HOW TO AT HOME: Encourage resilience in your child by modelling it yourself – if you have made a mistake, own it and discuss with your child in a calm manner how you plan to do better next time. Show them that life is about always learning and moving forward. Work on creating a safe and supportive space for your child to make their own mistakes and set them on a path of learning and growing, with the confidence in knowing you will be there to support them. These skills will be invaluable when it comes time to start school
For more information on Guardian Childcare & Education’s world-class curriculum and to find a centre near you, visit Guardian Childcare & Education. Discover the Guardian difference and book a tour today by clicking here!