-Ms. Emily and Ms. Christina
Helping Children Build Resilience
Two weeks ago COCC hosted the Oregon Association for the Education of Young Children Conference. We were asked to present a session for this conference discussing how Cascades Academy helps to foster resilience in our students. This was a wonderful opportunity for us to reflect on what aspects of our practice help students build this crucial set of skills.
Resilience is defined by The American Psychiatric Association as;
"the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress — It means "bouncing back" from difficult experiences...Resilience is not a trait that people either have or do not have. It involves behaviors, thoughts, and actions that can be learned and developed in anyone."
Below are the aspects we have worked on to cultivate resilience in our Pre-K program, and what we shared at the conference:
- Building meaningful and loving relationships,
- Letting students know that it is okay for them to ask for help,
- Helping students build executive functioning skills,
- consistent routines
- opportunities to cultivate their own social connections
- Lots of time for creative play.
- Plenty of physical activity
- opportunities to think and act independently.
- Ample opportunities for making their own decisions
- Practice with developmentally appropriate mindfulness exercises
- OT exercises that support crossing the midline and grounding to help regulate nervous systems.
- Nurturing feelings of competence and a sense of mastery in students,
- We use intentional language that promotes a dynamic/growth mindset.
- Listening more, talking less
- Using "how" instead of "why"
- Intentional activities and centers that are open-ended, flexible and change regularly depending upon student interests and needs.
- Modeling and reframing challenges in less threatening and optimistic ways
- Providing students with opportunities for risk and discomfort
- Encouraging students to face their fears--with support
- Offer opportunities for children to take safe, considered risks.
- Don't rush to their rescue.
- Meet students where they are
- Let students know that we trust their capacity to cope
These are just some of the many daily things we work on thoughtfully and lovingly to provide to our young students. The skills needed for navigating life resiliently are ones we can all benefit from practicing, We appreciate the opportunity to think about and practice them alongside the children in our class.
- Emily Bachofner, Pre-Kindergarten Teacher