When working in the early childhood setting every moment a teacher and child interact is an opportunity to develop positive relationships. From the time children arrive into our classrooms, teachers and all other adult support people have the opportunity to help develop a child’s social and emotional growth. These interactions have been proven to not only impact the child’s growth now but will also continue through their life. While recognizing that all children have different needs, interests, styles, and abilities, we can use the following points to help ensure these interactions are maximized during our school day.
- Engage with children one on one during various parts of the day.
- Get down on the child’s level.
- Use a calm and reassuring voice.
- Provide warm responsive physical contact.
- Listen to what the children say and respond to their needs.
- Praise children for their efforts and accomplishments.
- Follow the lead of the child in their areas of interest as they play and explore.
When these interactions are done consistently and positively the child develops long term relationships with adults and their peers. Children who are supported show less challenging behaviors in the classroom and can learn and accomplish tasks at a higher level.
Head Start/Early Head Start programs use the CLASS System which stands for Classroom Assessment and Scoring System. This research based assessment measures the quality of teacher child interactions in the classroom. By using CLASS the observers can give teachers insight, skills, and strategies to improve upon their daily interactions with the children in their classroom. The tool measures interactions in three domains.
- Emotional Support- Measures how teachers interact to establish an emotional connection for children to feel safe.
- Classroom Organization- Measures how teachers prepare their classroom so learning can take place, while ensuring the teachers use the most of every moment.
- Instructional Support- Measures how teachers can help children learn creatively.
Head Start/Early Head Start of Beaver County, a program of the Private Industry Council of Westmoreland/Fayette, Inc. will have their CLASS review for the Office of Head Start during the first full week of November. Our staff were trained throughout the year on the importance of positive daily interactions and the impact their actions can have on children. We have had many formal and informal observations on the classrooms as we prepare our staff for this review. Teachers have appreciated the feedback and are making great changes to ensure optimal interactions are happening in each and every classroom.