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Nursery World show: self-regulation masterclass


FSFRebecca
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On Friday FSF were at the Nursery World show in London attending the 'self-regulation masterclass'. The first two speakers, Clancy Blair and C.Cybele Raver are extremely eminent psychologists working in the field of self-regulation in young children.

Clancy Blair explains that self-regulation should be the general goal for children's development - children should be able to:

  • Be exuberant, run and play - but also sustain attention and stay focused. (Be able to stop, when it's time to go inside without having a 'melt down')
  • Be emotionally expressive but also able to regulate their emotions (Be able to explain that they are angry or upset without becoming aggressive or hysterical)
  • Be able to use their initiative, but also be able to comply (Be able to be independent but also follow the rules of the group)
  • Be conscientious in their social interactions (Be able to be around others taking their feelings into consideration)

Clancy Blair explains that self-regulation is a system composed of multiple parts:

  • Cognitive - executive functions (knowing and understanding what you should do)
  • Emotional - Reacting to what is happening around you
  • Behavioural - taking into account temperament and personality
  • Genetic - sensitivity to stress hormones (such as cortisol)

Clancy Blair's point is that children can learn to self-regulate from the adults around them who will "Scaffold their ability to persist (when things get tough), to continue (developing resilience) and also to manage their emotions (when they are angry, afraid, sad or frustrated). Clancy offers the idea of the programme 'Tools of the mind' which has been used in some US schools as a useful way of scaffolding children's learning in all areas, including self-regulation.

 

C.Cybele Raver's talk explained the importance of the child's home background as an indicator of their likely ability to self-regulate. Studies in the US have shown a link between child poverty, children's ability to self-regulate and the likelihood of children's future academic success. Due to the correlation between these factors Cybele described the importance of focused work with parents. Much of what she said resonated with the PEAL programme content. Cybele has worked with children, parents and their teachers and has shown that support for parents and teachers positively impacts on children's ability to self-regulate. Consequently, children who have been helped to self-regulate more effectively have better academic outcomes and so are more likely to be able to get themselves out of the poverty cycle.

 

Following on from these speakers, Julian Grenier, Headteacher at Sheringham Nursery School and Children's Centre, spoke about the practical aspects of self-regulation in EYFS. As you will be able to read from his slides from the lecture Julian focuses on the Characteristics of Effective Learning and the Enabling Environment aspects of EYFS. He too advocates a scaffolded approach to learning in all aspects - encouraging early years staff to recognise the learning point 'just ahead' of where the child is - if it is too near, it is too easy and if it is too far away the child quickly becomes disheartened. In terms of self-regulation, children should not be over-regulated (too many rules) but neither should they be under-regulated (not enough rules). There should be enough regulation to allow children to take risks, both physically and emotionally, but adults should model and support children as they learn to manage how they are feeling.

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