Self-regulation is a critical component in developing executive function skills. Because of the critical period of development in the first five years of life, and because these skills do not develop in isolation, teachers must intentionally address these skills in planning and implementation. As teachers, we can utilize certain behaviors to promote self-regulation in the classroom:
- Modeling: talk through emotions, and your responses to them; facilitate peer-to-peer problem solving when conflict arises; demonstrate appropriate responses and how you expect the children to behave
- Communicating Clear Expectations: describe to the children what is expected of them; clearly communicate in easy-to-understand language appropriate behavior; provide limits to challenging behavior and follow-through with appropriate consequences
- Realistic and Developmentally-Appropriate Expectations: understand child development enough to know of what children are capable; communicate to children these expectations; be mindful of adaptations that may help children be more successful, such as using fidgets, providing a weighted vest, or excusing a child from a triggering situation
- Scaffolding: meet children where they are, and support them as needed; use open-ended questions to help children problem solve and think through their challenges; model self-talk and provide opportunities for children to practice skills (such as taking a breath or visiting a take-a-break spot) when the child is calm; help children seek out tools when they are unable to do so independently
- Establishing a Supportive Classroom Environment: utilize tools that support children at a variety of levels, such as visual reminders and schedules, a check-in system upon arrival to the classroom or transitioning between activities, and allow children to engage in conflict; by allowing children to confront conflict, we provide them with the ability to practice skills in a safe, low-risk environment with our support.
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