Where you and your family live may not have all the bells and whistles you might find in a child care center (and by bells and whistles, we mean bells and whistles… but also things like playground equipment and an insanely huge library of books for young children). What your home does have, though, is YOU… and the other members of your family - in other words, your child’s first and very best teachers.
At the core of SEFEL (Social Emotional Foundations for Early Learning) is the idea that children grow and develop best when the important people in their lives are working in collaboration with that same goal in mind. It’s well known that you and your family have the greatest impact of all on your child. What if you could combine the power of that impact with proven best strategies for promoting child development… the kind of strategies that early childhood educators learn about in their training and use every day in their work with your child?
Well, guess what? This isn’t an informercial, BUT YOU CAN!!
It turns out that SEFEL absolutely loves coming home with your child to meet the family!
And it’s all just as applicable in your home as it is in the child care center or classroom. Check out these tools that you and the rest of your family can use to teach social emotional skills to your child at home.
To get you started, let’s focus on two of these strategies in particular:
The Power of Positive Speaking
When you talk with your child, it is, of course, best to communicate clearly and simply. The Gettysburg Address is amazing… but we all know it’d be wasted on a two-year-old. Use age appropriate language and try to avoid contractions like “can’t” and “won’t,” because young children can have a hard time understanding them. But most of all, try to keep it all POSITIVE.
What does that mean?
Well, research shows that positive language is much more effective than negative language when you’re trying to get your point across to a young child. So you could say “no yelling!” but that won’t work nearly as well as “use a calm voice” or “use an inside voice.” Likewise, try to avoid something like “stop pulling that dog’s tail!” and instead use a phrase like “pet gently” or “gentle hands.”
Basically if you can say “no” to “no,” your child’s more likely to say “yes” and do what you want!
A Picture’s Worth A Thousand Words
The title of this section almost tells the whole story, since there are very few young children who already know a thousand words!
But while we’re used to seeing colorful posters and photographs that help guide students in child care or school settings (for example, to label a learning center or a bin of supplies), we might be less likely to think of using them to help children at home.
The good news, though, is that they work at home too. And a poster or drawing has the additional benefit of not going anywhere… when you tell a child about a chore, your words disappear the moment after you’ve said them. An image, on the other hand, can stay up on the wall all the time, as long as a child needs it and it also doesn’t rely on you always needing to be there to get the message across (and that promotes independence).
In the bathroom, you could put up drawings or photographs to remind your child about the steps of washing their hands - you turn on the water, you wet your hands, you squirt the soap in your hand, you rub your hands together, you rinse the soap off your hands, you turn off the water, you dry your hands. As adults, this is obviously simple stuff. But to a child who’s just learning the task, the visuals can give them the confidence to carry it out and to be successful at it.
Other possible examples could be the steps in putting away toys or in clearing off the child’s place at the dinner table. The pictures really help… and not only that, but they can be fun too!
Want more of these kinds of tip? You can get lots of them here.