This section outlines a collection of core principles, and associated practices, to support children’s self-regulation. Each principle is described (e.g., engage children in problem solving), contextualised in a real-life scenario to illustrate its importance (e.g., a child reticent to engage in an activity for fear of being incorrect), and specific practices are provided related to the principle (e.g., open-ended questioning).
How and when should you implement these practices? It is preferable to embed these practices daily and in routines. The more you do these, the more pronounced the benefit is likely to be.
Who should engage in these practices? To promote consistency in practices within ECEC services, it is recommended that at least two educators from each service engage in the program. Preferably, a whole-centre approach will be adopted as additional educators engage in the program. Further benefit would be expected where these practices also occur in the home. These practices have been developed to support educators working with children aged 3-5 years, but could be of interest and benefit to all educators.
Are there any supporting materials for these practices? These principles and practices are supported by a series of nine brief, online professional learning videos (see the PRSIST Talks page) that expand on these principles and practices.
Why do adult practices matter to children’s self-regulation?
Increasingly, children’s self-regulation is being recognised as fundamental to their success in education and later life. Self-regulation refers the capacity to control urges, impulses and natural reactions, as needed, both by stopping something (even if one does not want to stop) or by starting something (even if one does not want to start). By the end of the pre-school years, well-regulated children can wait their turn, resist the temptation to grab a desired object from another child, tidy up after play with little prompting, and persist with a challenging activity. In later life, well-regulated adults (who were often well-regulated children) tend to have finished school, be employed, and have fewer problems with their health, substance abuse, financial difficulties and the law.
When considering the range of early-life factors that can influence children’s developmental trajectories and later-life outcomes, the influential role of adults is clear. While the most significant influence is the home-learning environment and experiences, it is followed closely by the quality of out-of-home early childhood education and care experiences. While much has been written about what constitutes quality, the short story is that adults matter! Many of the things that are important for later life do not develop naturally, but rather benefit from adults’ guidance, modelling, support and instruction. Children depend on adults to learn to talk, to read, to count ... and, of course, to self-regulate.
Links to the Early Years Learning Framework
Given its significance for children’s development, self-regulation and persistence both feature throughout Australia’s Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF). These terms are explicitly mentioned as sources of evidence within three of the five learning outcomes in the EYLF (Learning Outcomes 1, 3 and 4).