Social-Emotional Lessons Ease Kindergarten Transition
Four-year old Jace* was what some parents might call a handful. And it wasn’t just at home. When he was at his childcare center he pushed and kicked his peers. He didn’t like them in his personal space and he used force to push them away. Jace also hated it when things didn’t go his way. Emotional meltdowns resulted from what seemed like minor obstacles. His mother and teacher were both worried about his upcoming kindergarten transition and weren’t sure what to try next.
Strategies for the Preschool Classroom
That’s when PEP Early Childhood Plus was called in to help. Marla Hignett, a consultant with EC+, got to work right away, introducing several strategies for the classroom. First, she created a social skills group, each session focusing on a new social-emotional topic. Jace and the other students practiced the new skills during role-play and in the classroom throughout the day with teacher support. Ms. Hignett also created social stories on personal space, turn-taking and ways to calm, which were incorporated into the classroom.
Another strategy Ms. Hignett introduced was the “Safe Place,” from Conscious Discipline. This tool uses a specifically designated space in the classroom where a child can go when he feels upset. While they are calm, children learn strategies to use in the Safe Place to compose themselves when they become upset. For Jace, the Safe Place was a helpful way to practice his newly learned self-calming skills and regain his composure.
This year, Jace went to kindergarten. Two weeks after school started, Jace’s mom reached out to Ms. Hignett to thank her and let her know his transition was going well. Mom explained that the strategies they learned during preschool were still helpful. Now, when Jace has an incident at school, Mom re-reads the social stories with him. His kindergarten teacher also uses the social stories. Though he is still working on mastering his new social-emotional skills, his Mom is very pleased with his progress and has a lot of hope for his future.
It’s worth noting that PEP Early Childhood Plus’s expertise is often sought in situations like this, when one child in a classroom is struggling. What the consultant brings to the classroom, though, is much broader than help for one student. The tools used and skills gained as a result of PEP Early Childhood Plus’s involvement benefits the other students who learn valuable social emotional skills; the teacher who learns new ways to handle challenging students; the parents who are looped into the strategies; and even future teachers, like in Jace’s case who continued using the strategies introduced by EC+.
*Not his real name