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Addressing the social emotional work of restarting in the early education and care system

Addressing the social emotional work of restarting in the early education and care system

As the pandemic’s lockdown has continued and we move into the fall season, we continue to feel our resolve tested and our stress levels raised. Very young children have also felt this stress.

So, as parents and guardians return to work and children return to their care settings, special attention must to be paid to the social emotional needs resulting from both the pandemic and the return to the new realities we all face. Responding to this need, Connected Beginnings Training Institute (CBTI) is offering a training for professionals serving very young children and their families in order to prepare for the ways in which social emotional wellness can be addressed as programs open their doors once again.

The economic re-start has put a new spotlight on the importance of high-quality childcare. “In order for the economy to get back on track, working parents will need to have a new level of confidence in the physical and emotional safety in their child care setting,” Connected Beginnings Training Institute Director Mary Watson Avery said. “This is not simply a families-with-young-children issue. Early childhood care and education is everyone’s issue. It’s the invisible backbone of the economy. It’s the workforce behind the workforce.”

Adapted from a proven workshop model used to assist schools and early childhood settings facing significant change and challenges, the CBTI training draws on the practice of perspective-taking though the use of a role-playing vignette set on the first morning a program reopens after the COVID-19 emergency shut-downs. Assuming the roles of parents, administrators, teachers, and children, participants have the opportunity to discuss and reflect on the worries, wishes, and needs of each member of the program community. Through shared content and group discussion, the training goes on to demonstrate how imagining the experience of all involved, leads to better strategies for action-planning and problem-solving. It is with this goal in mind that the training is called, “Beginning Again.”

Having already led the training with several groups, Avery acknowledges that considering a complex situation from many sides can seem overwhelming at first, but imagining together creates a way to consider the feelings that come with any change or challenge. “The ability to reflect on and anticipate the social emotional needs of staff, families, and children gives programs the chance to plan for the upsetting or uncertain moments, because they will come,” said Avery. “We have found that this training can help give professionals a way to start sifting through it all. Not just the new rules, and guidelines for how to interact at this point in the pandemic, but how we can do it as calmly and as positively as possible.”

To learn more about Beginning Again and how it can benefit your care setting, contact Mary Watson Avery at mwavery@donahue.umassp.edu or (774) 455-7366.

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