Growth-Promoting Environments for Young Children

We have been discussing issues surrounding Early Childhood Education and the importance of quality environments to the growth and development of children. This is such a vital area of interest for our country because many children are in early childhood programs, and caregiving for these children is a huge stewardship.

Principles for promoting a healthy growth environment for ECE centers

preschool children and teacher
All children have different temperaments, and their growth comes in developmental stages
We recognize that all children have different temperaments and that their growth comes in developmental stages. When we recognize that these processes are emerging in children, we also gain insight into understanding their behavior. These insights should also shape the principles that drive the environments of early childhood to promote the best possible culture for their growth and maturity.

Here are six key principles for dealing with stage-related and temperament issues as found in Pathways to Competence, by Sarah Landy and Elizabeth Thompson (page 42):

Principle 1: Spend time observing the child and relate his behavior to what you know about his development level.

Principle 2:Set up the environment and the child’s schedule to accommodate the child’s development and temperament characteristics

Principle 3: Try to learn about the child’s temperament characteristics and any physical characteristics that may be contributing to his behavioral style

preschool kids on playground
Spend time changing negative labels into positive ones that reflect the child’s developmental stage and temperament type

Principle 4: Spend time changing negative labels into positive ones that reflect the child’s developmental stage and temperament type

Principle 5: Identify behaviors that trigger anger and anxiety in yourself and see how you are affected by your own temperament characteristics

Principle 6: Identify and adopt strategies that can help you adapt the child’s special temperament characteristics

Core beliefs and the character of ECE Centers

These principles are excellent core beliefs that could shape the character of an early childhood education center, the staff’s attitudes and reactions, and the manner in which children will be safe to grow. Although managing children at various stages of development and with different temperaments can be inherently difficult and challenging, caregiving for these precious lives should require a growth-promoting environment.

It is my hope that early childhood leaders will continue to work diligently to insure that early childhood program environments will be places where our children can be who they are in developmental stage and temperament, and be shown dignity and affirmation in their processes of growth.

Gerry Vassar, President/CEO, Lakeside Educational Network

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