Fostering Social Competence
Being and becoming members of an environmentally sustainable community is the foundation of our curriculum at Collectively Kids. This involves close and complex relationships based on care of the self, care of others and care of the environment. Interactions are valued and the centre programme is set up to encourage social competence and fair and friendly play. The centre has a wide range of resources that promote play and are accessible for most periods of the day. Routines are flexible. Respect for children, adults and the environment is central to the programme.
Teachers work as a team displaying appropriate behaviour and setting clear, consistent limits that are realistic and fair for individual and groups of children at the centre. Documentation, planning and evaluation processes ensure that any problems are promptly dealt with.
Collectively Kids has developed several social stories which can be revisited by adults and children and social stories are written to support the development of social competence.
Infants and Toddlers
The centre programme offers a wide range of resources and experiences to encourage and support the development of social competence. Teachers focus on getting to know children and families well. Turn-taking games, language, signs and role modelling (eg gentle touching) are used to support positive interactions. Quiet spaces are available. Routines are flexible to minimise the potential for frustration, hunger and tiredness. Infants and toddlers have opportunities to interact with older children at the centre both in the over two area and in the infant toddler room. These interactions are supported and supervised carefully by teachers. Teachers discuss and provide clear and gentle feedback on behaviour to children regardless of their age. Any ongoing issues relating to behaviour will be discussed with parents and a plan of action will be agreed on.
The centre programme is designed to give every opportunity for constructive, co-operative play and work. It is an expectation at the centre that resources, toys and spaces will be shared. Exclusion is not acceptable. However children are asked to respect the play of others and must not disrupt games or constructions. They are encouraged to employ a range of strategies for joining play including using assertive language and negotiation. If children express a desire to play alone they are encouraged to find a quiet space to do so.
Young children have the opportunity to play with, and support, infants and toddlers at the centre (tuakana teina relationships are fostered). Children who are invited into the infant toddler area are expected to follow behaviour rules in this area.
Aggressive or violent play is not acceptable. Aggression is defined as causing discomfort or concern to others and may include a range of behaviours from roaring, threatening language, singling people out, to unasked-for hugs and cuddles. “Violent” play themes (which can be fun and do not necessarily express themselves in aggressive behaviour) will be monitored and discussed with children to explore alternatives if necessary. Safe boundaries for active/rough and tumble play will be discussed with children.
Teachers are consistent in their praise of appropriate behaviour and children are treated in a warm supportive manner regardless of their behaviour. Children are encouraged to express their feelings and frustrations in words and to apologise (though this is not insisted on). Children are encouraged to check if another child is hurt. Assertive language and behaviours are modelled by teachers and discussed within social stories written by the centre. Children are given opportunities to practise assertion skills. Children are required to respect others and to be sensitive to their feelings, this includes looking at people's faces to see if they are enjoying a game and refraining from any form of harassment. Time is taken to explain why behaviour may be inappropriate and children are encouraged to resolve their own problems. Teachers are available to facilitate. A plan is in place for dealing with situations of conflict.
If a child persistently displays inappropriate behaviour, s/he will be redirected and given the opportunity to calm down and to behave more constructively in another area, working closely with a staff member (if appropriate). Persistent inappropriate behaviour is recorded on incidental notes, discussed on virtual notes and meetings and a plan may be written. Parent advice will be sought.
Positive guidance in situations of conflict
A plan for teachers:
Infants and toddlers
Observe… Time to intervene?
No if neither of the children is becoming upset
Yes if children are distressed, hurt or there is a possibility of harm
Beware of body language (no abrupt or overly large movements)
Make physical contact with all children involved which ensures that they are safe from harm
Use a gentle tone of voice, clear language, gestures, demonstration and signs to support (if needed)
Avoid the use of “no”, phrasing issues in a positive way (eg gentle hands rather than no hitting)
Comfort the hurt child if it is clear who has been hurt
Keep the other child close in an affectionate way but remove other attention (no eye contact)
Facilitate/support a sustained positive interaction between the childrenimmediately and give lots of gentle, clear feedback to both children about their play
Tell the story with people involved:
“What happened?” ask all people and let all answer, make no judgement
Explore the story - who has been affected, explore the harm with people involved:
State the situation, who is most affected? Questions could be “How are you feeling?” to children involved or statement of situation. “And now … is crying/hurt…”
Repair the harm – what can be done to make things right:
Questions – “What can … do to make you feel better?” “What can you do to make… feel better?” This may need some suggestions (icepack, drink, cuddle). Negotiate and act on agreed solution.
Move on – how can we make sure this doesn’t happen again?
Question might be – “What can you do next time… (describe situation) so that no one gets hurt/upset…?”
Observe... Time to intervene?
No if children seem to be resolving the situation in a way that satisfies all or most parties - keep an eye on dynamics/power!
Yes if there is any aggression, distress, injury, possibility of harm or power imbalance.
Stay calm - if you can't, hand over to someone else
Use an assertive tone of voice and assertive language
Separate behaviour from the child "I don't like it when you do...."
If possible find out what happened/is happening (try not to make assumptions)
Comfort 'hurt' child (if it's obvious who has been hurt)
Facilitate resolution if this is appropriate
Encourage hurt child to say "I don't like it when..." or similar, while looking the aggressor in the face.
Check that aggressor has heard and elaborate on why behaviour was inappropriate. In a larger group situation it may be best to find a quiet and more private space for such a discussion.
Check with aggressor how s/he could have avoided the behaviour eg. "What else could you have done rather than..."
Ask aggressor how s/he might make the victim feel better now. Suggest apology if appropriate. Redirect child into constructive activity.
Spend time with the victim going over what to do if someone does something you don't like. Say "I don't like it when…" If it doesn't stop, tell an adult. If they don't help tell another adult etc. Redirect child into constructive activity.
Sometimes (if behaviour has been discussed many times, if appropriate response is not forthcoming, if child is enjoying attention) immediate redirection without comment is more appropriate.
Make sure the strategy you use is compatible with the individual plan of the child involved and consistent with centre practice and philosophy.