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Reflections Magazine : Reflections Magazine Issue 52
REFLECTIONS • GOWRIE AUSTRALIA • SPRING 2013 - ISSUE 52 The significance of relationships Children are born with the capacity to form relationships. It is through their relationships that children learn about who they are, how to interact with others, and how to manage their emotions (Stonehouse, 2012). By getting to know children and their families well, educators support this ability to develop and form relationships. KidsMatter focuses on the role of relationships between children and educators.These relationships provide a model for how children should treat and expect to be treated by others. They also instil a sense of safety and security, allowing them to explore and interact with their world.The experience of supportive relationships assists children in their ongoing relationship formation and in developing positive mental health. Being confident to explore Warm, responsive and trusting relationships provide a secure base from which children can explore. It gives children a sense that they have the capacity to influence their surroundings (Kostelnik, Whirem, Soderman & Gregory, 2009). This sense of agency develops through a child's repeated experiences of having their needs met, using and extending their abilities, and having opportunities to take risks. KidsMatter encourages ECEC services to think about the range of opportunities, interactions and experiences they provide for children, and to consider how these influence children's social and emotional learning and development. Managing feelings and behaviour The foundations for managing emotions and behaviour are set up in early childhood. Positive relationships provide the safety for children to experience, express, understand and manage their emotions and their behaviour. Knowing when to step in, and when to stand back to support children in their social and emotional learning, can be challenging (Nolan, Kilderry & O'Grady, 2006). Regularly taking the opportunity to reflect when working with children, perhaps with colleagues or a mentor, can support such decision making in challenging situations. Making friends Being able to form positive relationships with peers and adults is an important life skill. Children who have had many opportunities to support their social and emotional learning are better prepared to form relationships with others. Friendships also represent unique experiences for children to further extend their social and emotional learning. Reflecting on the decisions ECEC services make, and how these influence children's opportunities for interaction and time alone, can have a great influence on children's social and emotional learning. How children see themselves A child's sense of self is how they see themselves as an individual. It is also the guide for how they interact with others now and as adults (Kostelnik, Whiren, Soderman & Gregory, 2009). When children see themselves as being able to make an impact on their world, they feel confident and capable of taking on challenges. Children develop an understanding of who they are from how significant people in their lives respond to them. When adults are mindful of how their behaviours are interpreted by children, they can interact in ways that support children's development of a positive sense of self. Social and emotional learning in practice Children's developing sense of self and social and emotional learning all have a direct influence on how well they can navigate their social worlds. Their growing understanding of who they are, and how their behaviours and emotions affect themselves allows them to make decisions about how to respond to others (Kostelnik et al, 2009). As more and more children attend ECEC services for longer periods of time (DEEWR, 2012), educators play a significant role in children's social and emotional development. KidsMatter highlights the value of this role and provides a framework to guide practice with mental health in mind. Want to know more about KidsMatter Early Childhood? KidsMatter provides expert knowledge, tools and support to help grow happy and healthy young minds. It is funded by the Australian Government and backed by the expertise of the Australian Psychological Society, beyondblue and Early Childhood Australia. The Kidsmatter resources are valuable for families and for those working in ECEC settings. Along with general information about the initiative, all of KidsMatter's resources can be accessed on our website, www.kidsmatter.edu.au. These resources are grouped under four themes, which reflect the Components of the Kidsmatter framework: • Creating a sense of community; • Developing children's social and emotional skills; • Working with parents and carers; • Helping children who are experiencing mental health difficulties. Also available online is the KidsMatter Early Childhood Programs Guide, which enables ECEC services to make informed decisions when selecting evidence-based mental health and wellbeing programs for their ECEC service community. References: Department of Education Employment and Workplace Relations. (2010). Educators, belonging, being and becoming: Educators guide to the Early Years Learning Framewok for Australia. Barton ACT: Commonwealth of Australia. Department of Education Employment and Workplace Relations. (2012). Child Care Update. Canberra, ACT: Office of Early Childhood Education and Care. Hunter Institute of Mental Health and Community Services & Health Industry Skills Council. (2012). Children's Mental Health and Wellbeing: Exploring Competencies for the Early Childhood Education and Care Workforce. Final Report. Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. Canberra, ACT: Commonwealth of Australia. Kostelnik, M., Whiren, A., Soderman, A., & Gregory, K. (2009). Guiding children's social development & learning (6th ed.). Clifton Park, New York: Delmar, Cengage Learning. Nolan, A., Kilderry, A., & O'Grady, R. (2006). Young children as active learners. Watson, ACT: Early Childhood Australia. Stonehouse, A. (2012). Relationships with children. NQS-PLP eNewsletter, (36). Retrieved from http://www.earlychildhoodaus- tralia.org.au/nqsplp/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/NQS_PLP_E- Newsletter_No36.pdf.
Reflections Magazine Issue 51
Reflections Magazine Issue 53 Summer 2013