Supporting Adults to Support Young Children

Three programs apply different strategies to support parents and teachers in improving young, vulnerable children's social-emotional growth and academic learning.

The Issue:

In early childhood, between the ages of 4 and 6, children learn to regulate their own behavior, attention, and emotions largely by watching the adults around them. Those adults (parents, caregivers, teachers) need training and support to raise emotionally healthy children.

A study of three parent- and educator-focused initiatives to support young children are described in this report: Child First, a home-based intervention program begun in Bridgeport, Conn.; the Chicago School Readiness Project and Foundations of Learning; and the Conscious Discipline program of Knox County (Ohio) Heard Start.

These programs used various strategies to help adults support young children by:

  • Building relationships between home visiting consultants and parents to help parents develop their own capacities to model trust, emotional regulation, and empathy to their young children.

  • Training teachers how to reduce disruptive behaviors in the classroom by implementing behavior management techniques such as positive reinforcement and praise, and warnings and consequences.

  • Addressing teachers’ professional and personal stress levels with ways to manage and reduce stress.

  • Training teaching staff to use “common language” to manage their thoughts, feelings, and emotions in order to model those skills to children.

About the Program:

These case studies were conducted as part of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's project: The Rigorous and Regulated Learning Environment: A Community-Based Partnership to Transform Interactions Among Vulnerable Populations in Early Education and Care Settings.