Today’s guest blog post is by Dr. Deborah Leong, Executive Director of Tools of the Mind, and coauthor with Dr. Elena Bodrova of “Tools of the Mind: The Vygotskian Approach to Early Childhood Education”, and Barbara Wilder-Smith, Director of Content Development at Tools of the Mind. Tools of the Mind and First Book have partnered to make a new resource, Interactive Make-Believe Play Experiences, available to the First Book community of educators.
Imagine a small boy, we’ll call him ‘Henry,’ melts down when he arrives at morning meeting. There’s another child sitting where he wants to sit. He wails and stamps his foot, his face turning a shade of crimson, as tears roll down his cheeks. Later in the day, the class gathers again on the rug, and the teacher assigns each child a partner. He doesn’t get the partner he wants. He turns his back to the group, his arms tightly folded across his chest. He is unable to participate.
How do you understand Henry’s challenges? Adults can often misunderstand this behavior, and see it as defiance, or immaturity. We understand it quite differently: it is related to the development of self-regulation.
More and more children in early childhood are entering the classroom without the self-regulation they need to engage in positive social interactions and learning activities. Without self-regulation, young children can be reactive, unable to inhibit their actions. They are not yet in control of their emotions, behavior, or attention. Research on school expulsion rates in early childhood is just one indicator of the enormity of the problem. Early childhood teachers want to know what to do.