May can be a crazy time of year… are the children in your care feeling the stress? Here, guest blogger Kris Corrigan, Early Childhood Specialist and ERS Assessor, shares some ideas for helping children have relaxing days.
We all love being around preschoolers because they smile, laugh and know how to have fun. Things that we find commonplace are fascinating new discoveries for them, and as we deal with the stresses in our everyday lives; we find joy in their seemingly carefree life. With those images in mind, we don’t often associate stress with preschool children. But it is very real for some children. Just being in a group care setting can cause stress for some children. The activity and noise can be overwhelming, some may not have the social skills needed to share and take turns, and routines can be confusing causing long periods of waiting without anything to do. Some may have a hard time transitioning from home to school. As early childhood professionals, we have the responsibility to create environments that allows children to have a relaxed, comfortable and interesting day. Here are a few strategies:
- Set up activities in the classroom where one or two children can play. A table with two chairs and puzzles or crayons and paper.
- Limit the time children have to wait during routines. Sing songs, do finger plays or play games.
- Create small cozy places in the classroom away from noisy activities. A wading pool filled with pillows where one or two children can look at books or relax.
- Reduce noise by arranging the classroom so noisy activities are concentrated in one area of the room and separated from quiet activities.
- Encourage families to visit frequently – eat lunch or read books to children, for example.
- Spend one-to-one time with each child. Give them your undivided attention even if for just a brief time.
What are some strategies you use in your program to create a relaxed, stress-free day for children?
Harm, T., Cryer, D., & Clifford, R. (2005) Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale (Revised), New York: Teacher’s College Press.