The goal of this module is to provide strategies and interventions for children birth through five years of age in regards to social-emotional development. Social-emotional development is optimal when a child has a close, supportive, and trusting relationships with adults. These first relationships form the basis for all other relationships that a child will build with peers and other adults. These interactions are crucial to learning and positive relationships have been linked to short and long term positive outcomes for children. The opposite is true as well with problematic relationships either with peers or adults have been linked to emotional and mental health problems, lower school achievement, higher drop-out rates, per rejection and delinquency. This is why building a strong foundation in social-emotional is so important in early childhood as it will impact the child for the rest of their lives.
Strategies support the development of a child's social-emotional world. These help caregivers build that foundation and ensure that there are many opportunities for a child to practice these new skills. While interventions provide extra support to a child when they face challenges that create a struggle for them. Interventions can be strategies as well but they are done with more intensity and frequency than with a strategy. The goal is to not only teach a child a new skill but also support that child to implement the skill when they may be extremely frustrated, angry, or even shut-down. The best intervention is prevention especially in the social-emotional world. This means that if you have built a strong foundation the hope is that you will not need a strategy for a temper tantrum or if one does bubble up (which it probably will) the child has the tools to handle it with your help. The strategies suggested should be taught when a child is calm, and when the caregiver is calm. The relationship between the child and caregiver is key to a healthy social-emotional foundation. If the caregiver is upset, the child will be as well. As the adults, we must model for the child how we want them to handle their frustrations or challenges. This means we must be calm when using strategies, because if we are insisting a child must calm down as we are yelling it in a stressed out state-it won't work.
The strategies listed are by age and the strategies listed in the younger years will work all the way through five. However, the strategies listed for the older years will not work on a younger level, they are based on a developmental sequence and a younger child may not be developmentally ready for a particular strategy.
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