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Developed by the South Fraser Valley Regional Child & Youth Committee in partnership with Fraser Region Community Justice Initiatives Association

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Building Assets in Early Childhood

What you can do to make a difference in the lives of children 3 to 5 years old

 

The following ideas have been put together for people who work with young children. These ideas are simply guidelines of ways to positively interact with 3-5-year-olds, ways that can have lasting effects on their personality and behaviours. This is a significant period in children’s lives and a very important time to foster positive experiences, attributes and behaviours.

 

Photo: Morguefile

SUPPORT


While interacting with children, ensure that you are at their eye level.
 

 

Assist children in having new experiences in everyday life. Have new and interesting treats for children to try, or new learning materials available for them.
 

Example: Take children on field trips to new places.        

Have playtime with children. Keep it flexible and open for them to do what interests them.
 

Cheer and applaud children when they do something positive.

 

EMPOWERMENT


Provide ways that children can do community service. Talk with them about what a community is, the importance of giving back to their community, and the value of sharing what they have with less fortunate people.
 


Example:
Have a food bank collection and encourage children to contribute. Explain what a food bank is and why it is important.

Help children learn how to keep their environment clean. Provide them with tools like gloves and tongs to pick up garbage in a playground. Talk about recycling and practice it at  your centre.
 

 

Allow children to make their own decisions about small things. Know how many choices your child can handle and only offer choices that really are choices.  Or only offer choices that result in your desired outcome.  For example, if you say “what would you like to drink? You child might choose a beverage that is not appropriate like pop.  A better question might be:  Would you like milk or water?  Another example of a limited choice question is: Would you like to wear the blue shoes or the brown shoes?
 

Examples of open ended questions: “What game would you like play?” or “Which park should we go to?”

Reinforce safety rules as you come across them. Be aware of how you speak to children.  Young children especially, have difficulty understanding the negativity in language. 
 

 

State rules using positive language tell them what you want them to do

Examples: “Look both ways before you cross the road”, “Walk when you are inside the house”, “Use your quiet voice in the library”.
 

BOUNDARIES & EXPECTATIONS


When children become extremely emotional, stay calm and keep your cool, remember, this is part of their social development at this age.
 

 

Be well informed about the average behaviours and attitudes of young children.   The preschool years are vitally important to a child’s social development later in life.  Now is when they will learn the skills required in school such as “using their words” instead of their fists to settle a disagreement.  They should not be expected to already have these skills in their preschool years.  Age 3-5 is all about learning to be appropriate socially.
 

 

Remember that children’s behaviour is their way of communicating to you.  Always ask yourself “If this behaviour could talk what would it be saying to me?”  Sometimes tantrums are a child’s way of telling you what their words cannot.  Things like, I’m tired or I’m hungry or I’ve had enough of this activity.
 

Examples: Read about early childhood development. Talk to parents and colleagues about their experiences

Be a positive and consistent role model for children. Rather than telling them what to do and not to do, model the positive behavior you would like to see them emulate.
 

 

Attend workshops and seminars on early childhood.  Speak with other professionals in your field.
 

 

CONSTRUCTIVE USE OF TIME


While children are in your care or supervision, expose them as much as possible to new and innovative things.
 


Example:
Take them out to parks, theaters, or cultural events that will expose them to new things.


Find out what interests the children and let them pursue that avenue. Encourage and support this path.

 

COMMITMENT TO LEARNING


Try to expose children to new places. Try to take them to the library or museum, or somewhere that they have never been.
 

 

Be open to all questions that young children ask. Answer questions to the best of your ability. If you do not know the answer, then work with them to find out.
 

 

When you are out in the community with young children, talk about things that you notice and encourage them to talk about what they see.
 

Example: Play games, such as “I Spy”

Spend time reading to the children. Encourage them to ask questions and talk about the story. Choose stories that contain some truth or learning.
 

 

Provide materials for children to colour, watch videos or play with toys. Display posters designed for children that promote healthy choices.
 

 

POSITIVE VALUES


Tell stories that promote the importance of positive values.


Examples:
Make up a story about why it is important to respect all people, despite their differences.
• Create fictional characters who are interesting for children.
 

Encourage parents to reinforce positive values with their children.
 

 

Help parents create a list of values that are important for them, and age-appropriate values that they want to teach their child. The list should be positive without using the words “don’t” or “no.”

Examples:

• Be honest

• Play with kindness

Share your things

• Be nice to all people

• Talk only to people you know.
 

Encourage children to take care of things that they own. Help them understand why they need to care for their own things.
 

 

SOCIAL COMPETENCY


Encourage and provide parents with ideas about ways they can have family meetings where children can have input on decisions.
 

 

Support children’s new skills.

Example: Ask them about school; praise them when they do well and offer encouragement when they do not.
 

Find opportunities to show that you are proud of the work they do. If they come to you with a painting or drawing, make sure to praise and reinforce their efforts.
 

 

Be open to children’s suggestions when talking with them about certain topics.

Example: “What do you think about going to see your dad? Would you like that?”
 

Be as honest with children as possible within the constraints that you may have to follow within your job’s guidelines.
 

 

POSITIVE IDENTITY


During conversations with children, focus attention oon positive topics.


Examples:

• Talk about any pets that the child has.

• Talk about their favorite movie or television show

• Ask them about their favorite cartoon character and what is so great about that character.
 

Create an environment that values all cultures.

Examples:

• Build a library of children’s books and movies about all different cultures.

• Display colourful posters showing  people from different cultures and ethnicities

• Promote multiculturalism as a Canadian identity.
 

Build flexibility into your programs to accommodate children who may not have the same skills or capabilities as others. Ensure that they do not feel alienated from the group.

Example: Be aware of any child’s disabilities when you are creating a program agenda. You may need to minimize the amount of physical movement or include activity choices.
 

Always be optimistic about each child’s future. Express this optimism to them often.
 

 

 Adapted from Pass It On! Ready To Use Handouts for Asset Builders, ©1999 by The Search Institute
 

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