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March 21, 2016

It Takes a Big Heart to Help Shape Little Minds

Contributed by Jennifer Horner, Education Specialist


Early childhood professionals have a unique role in a child’s life. Every interaction is shaping their social and emotional development and is setting the stage for the rest of their lives. It’s true! The relationship a teacher develops with a child directly impacts the way they interact with others as they grow.


“Research has suggested that teacher-child relationships play a significant role in influencing young children’s social and emotional development. In studies of teacher-child relationships, children who had a secure relationship with their preschool and kindergarten teachers demonstrated good peer interactions and positive relationships with teachers and peers in elementary school..(M.M. Ostrosky & E.Y. Young)


The process of bonding with a child isn’t always an easy one. It takes an incredible amount of patience, consistency, and unconditional love. In the fast-paced, multi-tasking, unpredictable, whirlwind world of early childhood, it can be tough to ‘fit in’ social emotional teaching, but rest assured- it’s already in everything you do.


The trick is to slow down (just a little) and focus on making the most of every interaction regardless of when it happens to occur. Those silly moments while walking in the hallway, the hurried 5 minutes trying to clean up before a transition, or the unforeseen spill just before you were going to start circle time are all opportunities to demonstrate kindness, patience, and positive interactions.


Focus on the techniques below that can naturally occur anytime during your #DoodleDay. Many of these are things you probably do innately, but being aware of them not only helps confirm you are teaching for the right reasons, but will also help you boost those around you to do the same:


  • Engage in one-to-one interactions with children
  • Get on the child’s level for face-to-face interactions
  • Use a pleasant, calm voice and simple language
  • Provide warm, responsive physical contact
  • Follow the child’s lead and interest during play
  • Help children understand classroom expectations
  • Redirect children when they engage in challenging behavior
  • Listen to children and encourage them to listen to others
  • Acknowledge children for their accomplishments and effort



The work you are doing is important – very important. Hopefully this read was a
needed boost to remind you of the incredible impact you are making on little lives every day and a call to model these practices for fellow teachers, parents, and all of the impressionable young minds who are constantly watching and admiring all you do!



The information above was in part derived from the article below developed by the Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning. Contributors to this Brief were M. M. Ostrosky and E. Y. Jung.: Building Positive Teacher-Child Relationships

Check out the additional resources for social emotional teaching below: