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9 Ways Child Care Teaches Kids Resilience

9 Ways Child Care Teaches Kids Resilience

I watched in awe and admiration as my 4-year-old son scaled the climbing wall at our favorite ski resort. This was his third try. He refused to give up … he was going to ring that bell at the top if it took a hundred tries. That’s the moment I realized that my child is pretty resilient.

Life with Owen isn’t always easy. It’s joyful but hard. Parenting THAT kid takes patience, awareness, and flexibility. But I can’t help thinking the silver lining is this grit and perseverance he’s building inside.

As working parents, my husband and I credit Owen’s teachers for being a positive part of this development. Like us, they see him struggle, stumble and get things wrong. But they are there to guide him, lift him up, and support his growth – each and every day.

How Preschools and Child Care Centers Build Resilience in Students

Preschools and child care centers:

Offer a safe environment. Successful preschools set-up their space to allow children to safely explore the world around them which builds confidence, independence, and self-esteem. Owen’s preschool classroom is filled with discovery centers that encourage kids to take a hands-on approach to learning. There are often interesting (and sometimes gross) items decaying in a jar, a place to practice building ramps, potatoes growing in a bucket, and a pretend kitchen/vet/farmer’s market where creativity blooms.

Encourage children to be independent. Toddler and preschool teachers spend a large part of their day teaching children self-help skills using a toolbox of positive encouragement and motivation. “I can’t do it!” has no place in Owen’s classroom.

Promote children as decision makers. When you allow children to make decisions, you teach them to trust themselves. Every day, Owen is making decisions at preschool – some guided and some not. What does he want to play with? Who will he play with? Learning to ask himself, “What color should I paint this truck?” or “What will I build with these blocks?”

Teaches Kids Resilience

Encourage children to self-regulate their behaviors and develop patience. Preschool and child care classrooms are often bustling with activity. Some child may need help going to the potty while simultaneously another needs support putting on their boots for the playground. Luckily, good teachers arm children the skills that guide them to be patient and work cooperatively. One recent art activity had Owen and a friend painting a picture together – building these important behaviors.

Help children learn empathy. When they help others, children not only become empowered to do good but gain self-confidence. Recently, Owen’s class spent a week focusing on friendships. Every day, they had a new question of the day: “What is a friend?” “How can you make a new friend?” etc. It was a great way to get them thinking about friendships, differing opinions, and spark conversation.

Develop critical thinking skills. When children develop critical thinking skills, they are given the chance to exercise their own independent judgment. Owen is often challenged to consider different ideas: “How do you think this story will end?” “Do you think this dinosaur is a meat-eater, plant-eater or both? What makes you think this?” “What do you think will happen to this potato spud that we’re growing?”

Provide opportunities to take on meaningful roles. Whether he’s the teacher’s helper, the line leader, or the weatherman for circle time, Owen is given many opportunities to take on responsibilities that grow self-esteem and a positive view of himself.

Create a positive environment. In almost every article I read about resilience, a positive outlook is a cornerstone of the resilient child. I never underestimate the power of a smile, a laugh and an overall positive spirit when it comes to Owen’s preschool teachers.

Provide love and support for each child. Children who can establish positive attachments to non-family members are more apt to be confident and have a positive self-image. Owen can be a challenge, like many kids, but his preschool teachers are supportive and loving.

Now if I can get his preschool to teach Owen to do the laundry, life would be even sweeter.

Family Matters webinar

Editor’s Note: We recently hosted The Resilient Child: Supporting Your Family Through Change, a webinar with guest speaker and childhood expert Rachel Sperry, MSW. During the discussion, we talked to Rachel about how you can encourage the kind of resilience that will help your child weather transitions today… and throughout his or her childhood. If you missed the webinar, a replay of it is available here.

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