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In 2021, the Department partnered with Early Childhood Australia (ECA) to deliver a series of free online professional learning programs.

Guiding Children’s Behaviour – regulation, respect and relationships

Webinar 1

This session introduces educators to current Australian research on self-regulation and children’s behaviour, and the impact of self-regulation on children’s learning, adjustment, and wellbeing, as well as viewing behaviour and self-regulation through developmental and socio-ecological lenses.


Webinar 1 - Transcript

(gentle upbeat music) –

Hello everyone, and welcome. My name is Catharine Hydon. And I'd like to welcome you to the Guiding Children's Behaviour regulation, respect and relationships webinar series. This series is brought to you by the Department of Education and Training Victoria in partnership with Early Childhood Australia. Before we start, and of course, as many of you know, it is important that we pause for a moment and acknowledge the traditional owners on whose country we're all collectively on. I'm here on the lands of the Kulin Nation and I know many of you are in that space. And thinking about the traditional owners as you join us today. I'd like to particularly reference the work of, the ideas and the words of Aunty Geraldine Atkinson, in the opening statements in the Victorian Department of Education and Training's Marrung; Aboriginal Education Plan. Where she invites us to hold the doors wide open for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander children and their families. I know that many of you are doing that as we speak and thinking about the ways that you can welcome Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander children to your services and how we can restore justice and equality to Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander children particularly in this Reconciliation Week. And I'd also like to take a moment to say a big shout out to all of the people who are joining us today. I'd like to thank you for the work you do and for looking after the wellbeing of children and their families.  

I'm really pleased to be part of this series on guiding behaviour. I think it's something that educators are thinking a lot about. It's a great series of online conversations that will be part of, where we're going to hear from experts. And we're also going to hear from panellists who are practitioners, teachers over the series of these four events. We hope that these webinars will be an opportunity for you to build your knowledge as you support children in your services to learn and grow. So just before I start to welcome our special guests to this conversation, I want to tell you a little bit about how this webinar is going to work. So, we want you to think of this webinar as an opportunity for a conversation, a professional dialogue, if you like. So Cathrine, who I'll introduce you to in a minute, and I will be in conversation today. Cathrine is sharing her extensive research expertise and I'll also have a go at making a connection between the everyday practices and some of the ideas that Cathrine will be sharing with us. Particularly, as they relate to the practice expectations of the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework. So, as I said, we're going to be focusing on guiding behaviour, regulation, respect, and relationships. And this is the first of a four session series that we're really pleased that you're already a part of.  

So, as Cathrine Neilsen-Hewett is coming up and we're going to turn on her camera in just a moment, I'd like to run through really super quick, some housekeeping matters. Some of which I've already mentioned to you. We're going to have certificates for those people who attended the live session, at the end of the series. And as I've said before, the recordings of the session are going to be made available on the website. So it's now my absolute pleasure to introduce Associate Professor, Cathrine Neilsen-Hewett. I had the very fine pleasure of talking to Cathrine in preparation for today, and I'm really excited about some of the ideas that we get to investigate here. And I know some of these will spark other conversations that you can have with your colleagues. Perhaps, you go and revisit some of the things that you can see on the video as we share these ideas further. So let me tell you a little bit about Cathrine before we start our conversation. Cathrine Neilsen-Hewett, has been a lecturer and researcher in child development for over 25 years and is currently the Director of the Early Years and Director of Pedagogical Leadership, Early Start at the University of Wollongong. Cathrine, has delivered workshops and has been invited to address parents and corporations and government bodies both here and overseas. And her expertise, which is particularly relevant for our conversation, includes child development, self-regulation and childhood socialization, professional development and the promotion of quality early childhood education and care. Today, Cathrine, is going to be presenting some of her research at the University of Wollongong. And I'll be jumping in from time to time to think about the connections in the Victorian context particularly as I said, about the way in which it relates to the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework. Good afternoon, Cathrine.  

Hi, Catharine. It's lovely to be here. I'm really, really excited to be able to kind of do a deep dive into some of these issues around challenging behaviour. But I too, just before I begin, I would like to just acknowledge the traditional owners on the land in which I'm sitting on. I'm here in Dharawal country, so I'd like to pay my respects to the Wadi Wadi people and Dharawal nation and pay my respects to elders past, present, and emerging. So, let's get started. So I think Catharine's really kind of highlighted the significance of what this four-part webinar series does. And I think it's really important that we have time to really engage with some of the really deep rich evidence base that underpins guiding children's behaviour. And so, we're going to talk a lot about that today but we'll also be examining throughout the series, what some of the pedagogies and practices that are important in terms of underpinning effective approaches to supporting children. But in terms of behaviour, anyone who's been working in the sector and working with children and families we all know, we really know that children's behaviour is really complex, it's contextual, and it's communicative. So through children's behaviour, it provides us really with a window into how children are thinking and how they're feeling or how they're not thinking as we'll find in terms of what emotions can really do to children's brains and how that is really translated into their practices. But in terms of behaviour being complex we know that the routes to behaviour are equally complex. And in this first webinar, I really want us to focus on the why. Like why do children behave the way that they do? And I think, the what is often our call to action. So as educators, it's when children behave in a way that we need to step in. So when they're behaving in a way, Catharine, that really results in them placing themselves at risk, placing other children at risk, or they behave in a way that compromises their learning or engagement in social relationships. Then we feel the need to step in as educators. And that's important. But if we're thinking about how do we support children's behaviour? How do we guide their behaviour? Then it's the why that really underpins effective practices. So if we're going to provide effective support for children and families, then we need to really develop a really comprehensive understanding of what those routes are to challenging behaviours. So, why does a child find it difficult to share? Why is a child unwilling to pack up their toys? Why do we see children have emotional meltdowns when something goes wrong in the play context? And so, this is really what I wanted us to think about today in terms of the why behind children's behaviours and how that influences our practices.


And Cathrine, just right from the get-go, I think you're really reminding us to take heed one of the really important messages in the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework that invites us to reflect, really think deeply about what's going on. And I think reminding us of that right from the get-go it's a really important way to start this conversation because I can see lots of people go into the what and not wanting to spend time in the why. So, a really good reminder.


And I think when we're in a heightened situation and when we're faced with challenging or what I often refer to as big behaviours, we are heightened. And so, we're often reactionary. And so, we need to really step back and think about, think about children's behaviours and the pathways. And we know the best way to deal with challenging behaviours is to ensure that they don't happen in the first place. So, I want us to really think about that. So this slide, Cathrine, really looks at some of the key components or concepts that underpin the why. And it talks about regulation, relationships and respect and they're reflected in the title of the webinar. And they're fundamental to our understanding of these components andare fundamental to our understanding of children's behaviours. But they're also fundamental to the vision and practice principles of the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework. And so, when we're talking about regulation I'm really speaking to the role of children's self-regulation in shaping their behaviours. So, and how that underpins their effective engagement within the learning environment and their engagement with other individuals within that environment. And it also speaks, and we'll talk much more about this in webinar three, it also speaks to the specific skills children need in order to be able to regulate their behaviours, and their emotions, and their thinking. Relationships are critical to children's development. It doesn't belong just in terms of children's behaviour. And so, this really speaks to the significance and the importance of strong, responsive, and healthy relationships. But even more than that, it really highlights the need for children to experience relationships that are characterized by safety and security and reciprocity and how that underpins their behaviours. And the respect component really speaks to the need to create respectful environments that respect diversity, that respect the cultural context of children and families, but also create a climate where children feel safe to feel big feelings. Which is different from enacting big feelings. And so, I really love this idea of the three Rs. And anyone who's worked with me over time will know I love a good acronym. And I like anything that really helps us as educators to kind of make very complex information really accessible. And so, with a bit of poetic license I decided that I wanted to add two extra Rs to the regulation, respect, and relationships. And the two extra Rs that I want us to talk about is this notion of routes and responses. So when we're talking about routes, we're talking about the common pathways to challenging behaviours. And routes also capture the context of influence. So what happens within the family? What happens within the neighbourhood? And what happens within our broader social context that really shapes children's behaviour? And also, I want to speak to aspects of the early childhood education and care environment that increase the risk of big behaviours occurring within learning environments. And the last one is their responses. And this really refers to those rich and responsive learning environments that we create within the early childhood context and our pedagogies and practices that enhance children's ability to regulate and to self-regulate and to behave according to the demands of the environment. But the flip side is sometimes those responses actually increase children's risk. So there's another R, for you. And of course, Catharine, not only do these Rs kind of help us better understand the why. So each of these, we really need to understand in terms of how they connect with one another. They're cyclical, they're contextual, they change as we can see in the current COVID context. There's really strong synergies with the practice principles of the Victorian Early Learning Framework in terms of our expectations for children and respect for relationships. And I mean, add to that, Catharine.


And I think the thing you're reminding us to do is to go back into some of those documents that support our thinking. So for us in Victoria, the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework is a document that people know well, but it's really important to go back into them and re-investigate those big ideas because relationships and responsiveness, respectful reciprocal relationships, equity and diversity, reflective practice all of those are in the context of those practice principles. But you also remind us to make sure we're aware of the outcomes for children in terms of what are we trying to teach. Integrated teaching and learning processes really ask educators to examine some of those things as we make decisions to act. I think, sometimes I think we can skip over a little bit because we think we know them, but I think what you're doing is helping us to re-open those practice principles, re-investigate them, go back in and find out what do we mean by those things. And even when you mentioned the routes idea, I feel like I'm thinking about all the different ways that the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework ask us to think a lot about the teaching and learning opportunities that we would present to children. So, I think there's lots in there to remind educators to go back into those documents and re-investigate them.


And also, that real commitment around that integrated learning, around assessment for learning. And when I talked about assessment for learning I really mean, and this is so important when it comes to children's behaviours, is understanding where children are at and what their needs are and how we can support them effectively. So that commitment to a differentiated, individualized response is so critical.


Yeah, and we can't talk highly enough of that. I think Cathrine, it's one of those things that we want to really remind people. And of course, people will know that the Victoria framework really helps us to know children, their whole context. And I know that you're going to talk a bit more about that as we go. You know, referencing some of the work that we've done in that term, in that space to really understand the context of children's learning.

So before I do a really deep dive, Catharine, I really want to do a bit of a deep dive into the research and the evidence-based practices in this first webinar. And I think our next three webinars are really going to be have a much stronger kind of contextualize and practical lens. But evidence-based practices are important in everything that we do. But when it comes to children's behaviour we really need to understand what practices are effective and how we can ensure that the practices we're engaging in are in the best interest of the children and the families that we're supporting. But before that, I really would like to invite the participants online. If you can just share with us what some of your biggest challenges have been in respect to guiding children's behaviour. And we might not get to them today Catharine, my understanding is, but I think you and I will certainly look at these more deeply and we'll revisit them during webinar two and webinar three. So we're really interested in your lens, your experiences, your challenges. So we can really contextualize this learning for you.


And so take up, Catharine's offer there and find the chat function down the bottom of the page and open up the chat box. You'll see that there's quite a lot of people posting ideas already in there. It's going off a little bit. So keep those ideas coming. As Cathrine said, we will try and weave them into the thinking that we're doing about the subsequent webinars. But we can see them here as well. So keep sharing your thoughts as we go. I think we're getting quite a few coming through there, Cathrine, so it'll help us no end.


And absolutely, and it will help me in webinar three where I can really map out the responses to your experiences and how we can really contextualize that for you in the best way. So, what I'd like to move on to now, Catharine, is one of our first Rs. And that's that notion of regulation. And when I'm talking about regulation, I'm really talking about children's ability to control their emotions and their behaviours in response to situational demands. Now, there's lots of, those of you... I'm sure many of you online have done a lot of reading around self-regulation. We know that it is critical in terms of underpinning children's wellbeing and learning. And there are lots of different definitions. But I kind of prioritize the social and behavioural components or the emotional behavioural components of regulation and the cognitive components and how they work together. So in terms of the behaviour and emotional components of regulation, I'm really talking about children's ability to control their impulses, both by stopping doing something that they want to keep doing or doing something that they don't want to do. So stopping playing, even though I want to keep playing or packing up, even though I don't really want to pack up. And I think that's supported. So when we're talking about self-regulation it's behaviour that is intentional and it's active. So, Catharine, I don't want to hit you, in my head that's intentional. And my active process is I'm going to walk away so I'm not near you and I can't hit you. So it's very purposeful. And it's not to be confused with obedience or compliance. So, children who are truly self-regulated behave the same way, regardless of the presence of an adult. So children who are what I would call other-regulated or co-regulated stage may behave appropriately when there's an adult present but in non-structured or unstructured environments they might be quite aggressive with their peers. So we'll say contextual variations in terms of regulation. The behavioural components of self-regulation is also about children's ability to delay gratification or suppress their impulses long enough to think about the possible consequences of their behaviour. So Cathrine, you have a toy that I really want to play with. I'm going to grab it off of you because I want to play with it and I want to play with it now. But a child who's regulated will be able to pause long enough and suppress that impulse to grab that toy to think about what the consequences of my actions might be. Now, if I grab that toy from you, you're going to get upset. You're going to cry. Cate, our teacher, is going to notice that you're crying and she's going to come over and say, "Cathrine, I need to take that toy back and give it back to Catharine." So in my head I'm then going to say, "Actually, Catharine, when you're finished with the toy can I have a turn?" And this is what we see in terms of that ability to self-regulate. So that kind of the emotional behavioural components of self-regulation have often been likened to a thermostat. So the idea is we have this ideal functionality or a preset threshold of a temperature often, I think I set my car at about 21 degrees. And the idea is if it gets it a little bit too cold outside, which is pretty cold at the moment, it'll kick in and it'll warm my car up and it'll get me back to that ideal temperature. Likewise, if it gets too hot the air conditioning kicks in and it brings it down. And that is exactly what regulation is for children around that emotional or behavioural regulation. We have this ideal level of functionality and our regulation keeps us within that so that we are able to engage with people and function effectively in our environment. Now that's the emotional behavioural component and that's often our call to action when we see those big behaviours. But there's another part of self-regulation that is actually critical to children's challenging behaviours and critical to our engagement and learning. And that's the cognitive component of self-regulation. So it's often referred to as that higher order or executive functioning aspect. And it really kind of reflects on children's ability to remember, their ability to plan and problem solve, their ability to pay attention, and also their motivation. But they're not independent. So we know thinking influences emotions and behaviours and emotions and behaviours also influence thinking. So children who get highly anxious or highly emotional when they're faced with a challenging task tend to walk away from that task rather than to persist. Children who are able to control their emotions are much more likely to stay in this task and go, "This is really difficult, but I'm going to keep trying." And so learning to persist in the face of complexity is probably one of the most important outcomes of children's self-regulation. Because that is when we learn, when we're faced with challenging environments. Part of that, and we're going to talk about that a little bit more, is how do we create an environment where children feel safe to take risks and feel safe to try out and persist in the face of challenge. So while the emotional components are a little bit like the thermostat, the cognitive component of children's self-regulation is a little bit like how air traffic control system. So the idea is that, there's all this kind of information that's coming in and children have to manage all these multiple strings of information that's playing over there. I need this, teachers need that, the children are playing over there, mom, might've been upset with me this morning. There's a whole lot of things that they're trying to juggle and what they need to do at the same time is they need to monitor their errors when they're making mistakes, they need to reassess their play experiences, they need to make decisions, and they also need to resist the urge to make hasty decisions. That level of frustration that we will feel as adults that can result in a really hasty decision. And so, while they're juggling all that, all the planes stay in the air. The minute we take our eyes off one plane or two planes, they crash, right? And so, I think it was about five years ago our air traffic control system went and the whole airport had to close. So it is the functional component of children's behaviour. –


And I think, there's a whole lot of people online now going absolutely, that's exactly what I see. And I guess Cathrine, it reminds me too of the importance of assessment for learning strategies and reflective practice that educators are engaging with. Again, practice principles in Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework that remind you to really know what's happening, to sort of notice that. Cause I think there'd be people here going, that's exactly what's going on. I wonder whether you've recorded some of that so you can see how things might change over time. But those two ideas, I think, are really helpful for educators to go back and have further conversations with their colleagues, but also do their own noticing and observations of what they see with young children that they work with.  


Yeah, I often say and I think that's so true, Catharine. I often talk about never underestimate the power of the pause as an educator it's just really stopping and refining. It's a beautiful segue, although it'll be at the end of the discussion, but I'm actually going to ask participants to do a little bit of pausing and a little bit of observation around children and really get a sense before we move into our next webinar. But thinking about self-regulation children who are truly regulated and I'm talking about, this is not something that we see amongst three-year-olds, children who are regulated at five and six are those children who can wait their turn, they can sustain their attention, they can follow instructions, they can resist the temptation to grab something off another child, they consider the consequences of their actions, and they persist in the face of challenging activities. And from a kind of a dispositional perspective these are the children that are often more independent, they're more creative, they're curious, they show real initiative and perseverance. And it makes sense, everyone's sitting here and thinking about the child who can't wait their turn, who can't pay their attention. And it might be the Thursday group. You know, that group when you're going to work that morning you think, I just need to stop for my second coffee. Cause we know that self-regulation or children's self-regulatory abilities can really impact the climate of the learning environment. And we know, and this is why webinars such as this are so important and so popular, because children's behaviour is probably the most often cited cause of educator burnout. So it's really about how do we understand this better and how do we support children to behave in a way that makes them feel safe and secure but more importantly creates a platform for them to learn and engage. –


And I think you're also reminding us there too, Cathrine, of the importance of our collaborative work with our colleagues to think and plan about this. So often in some of my conversations with educators it's about putting more attention to this space rather than less and investigating in more detail so that you can make sure that your future decisions are going to take you to better outcomes for children and their families and indeed for educators as you remind us.


Absolutely, and the significance of self-regulation if you pick up the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework, we see that across so many of the practice commitments and the frameworks. And we see here where within the context of respectful relationships and responsive engagement it talks about the importance of attachment relationships as a self-regulation. It talks about the importance of adults in those relationships in supporting children's wellbeing and their ability to regulate. But also having those kinds of secure, respectful relationships that support children's risk-taking which is important for their development. –


And I guess the other thing we'd want to remind people about too is that, is the way that the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework works, is a very interconnected relationship between all of those practice principles. So it's not one practice principle alone that makes the connections but it's the interweaving that delivers the outcomes to children that we're really looking for. And again, those outcomes people know them very well. I'm sure, if you go into those outcomes you'll see aspects of self-regulation in all of the outcomes across that space. And indeed we want to be talking to families about how we undertake that process. But using evidence-based approaches like Cathrine you're identifying, is something that will help to enhance the way we use the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework in our everyday practice. So really good reminders of going back into those documents, like we said at the beginning. But also using them to plan your future work which I'm sure you're going to tell us more about as we keep going.


Absolutely, and so we see that notion of empathy and children developing and emerging autonomy and that independence and resilience. This notion of community, and can I say that the idea of the early childhood context as a community is so integral to self-regulation. Because in order to self-regulate, children need to be able to pack their own needs and wants and to think about the needs of the broader community. And you can't do that as a toddler. Like in terms of there's an age, and I'll talk about this in a moment. There's a developmental underpinning to self-regulation. And as we move through the I of the toddler years to the we of that kind of preschool years that is when we start to see the emergence of those self-regulatory abilities. When they can start empathizing with others, understanding others needs and wants. And the idea that sometimes I actually need to stop packing up because it's better for the group as a whole. So a lot of that is captured. And in terms of those learning aspects, Catharine, we'll really talk about how we foster these dispositions for learning and also how we create these kind of really rich learning contexts that have such an impact on children's behaviour.  


And perhaps, it's also about us prioritizing some of those and saying, actually some of the children that we work with they know some things already. So perhaps we ought to be spending more time in this focus and there'll be people in line here who are accessing school funding and a whole range of other sort of resources within their own organizations that can help them really focus their attention on some of this which is something that perhaps in your service hasn't got the attention it deserves. And the other thing is to of course, remind families about the outcomes that we were concentrating on in our practice that are indeed evidence-based. So we're again, referencing some of these strategies but paying attention to them and planning for them in an integrated way is a really positive way forward. And I think some of the educators here might be making mental notes about what else they might be having conversations with their colleagues. Perhaps over two years, as we have two years of funded kindergarten programs rolling out across Victoria. There'll be more opportunities for us to think about a trajectory over a period of time.


Absolutely, and I guess what we always ask our question to ourselves as educated, as researchers, is this even important? Like how important is this for children's wellbeing? How important is this for their trajectories? And I think when we asked the question about the importance of children's self-regulation, we know that it's critical. In fact, researchers and psychologists often referred to as self-regulation as being the biological underpinnings of learning and engagement. And in terms of focusing, like we know in terms of really ensuring that children are ready for life. We know that children who are able to negotiate they can make friends, they can engage in the learning environment. Yeah, they're ready for learning but they're ready for life. And we know that there's been research looking at the short-term impact of self-regulation. And we know there's research from Kate Williams who suggest that about 30% of children, so almost one in three children, start school with self-regulatory challenges. And that really places them at risk both in terms of their social emotional adjustment and trajectories but also their academic adjustment. The children who can't control their impulses, can't delay gratification, and they're fostering like after their own needs and wants and desires, then those children tend to be less popular with their friends. They also are more likely do we see higher rates of aggressive behaviour amongst these children. So it places them at risk of really maladaptive relationships. And the flip side is children who can't plan, who can't remember, who can't attend, o the cognitive components of self-regulation. We see that they do less well academically. So we see poor performance in terms of literacy and numeracy outcomes. So it is so critical to their success and wellbeing in the short term. But long-term, I'm not sure Catharine, if you're familiar with the Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study that was situated in Dunedin. So it's the longest running longitudinal study in the world. It started back in 1972. So it's kind of like our birth cohort and they followed a birth cohort, so just over a thousand babies that were born in Dunedin back in 1972, and they could still following them now. I think it's still got 96% of the original population in this study. And they did lots of measures. So there were health and other well-being measures. But one of the measures that they took was a measure of self control. And they found that children's self-control at three and five were predictive of variations in health, wealth, and criminality at age 32 . So children who experience poor self-control which is like a measure of self-regulation and we can see how that relates to behaviour, children who experienced poor self control tended to have more adult health problems, they were more likely to have drug and alcohol issues that were less financially planful. And when they looked at the population, 24% of the population of that cohort had committed a crime and had been convicted of a crime. When they looked at that sub-sample they were the children who scored very poor on self-control. And that was after controlling for things like IQ and socioeconomic status. So it's critical.


And I think Cathrine, you're reminding us too, that the research around this is substantial. And I think it's really important that we pay attention to evidence-based practice and evidence-based research that's coming through as well as being more informed. I think, when we have our conversations with our colleagues in primary education when children are transitioning, and of course, you all know here online that we've got a commitment to transitions to school that see children as ready to go whenever they end up in school and that schools are ready for them. But educators who are capturing some of the learning and supporting children's learning in the years before they go to school can really emphasize some of the work here so that children have smoother transitions into more formalized school settings. And we can have conversations with our colleagues in the early years of school about some of the strategies we're using to support children's regulation. And we can perhaps share those strategies across early childhood into school. And I guess we've got a better and stronger understanding of what we mean by children's self-regulation. And also, the strategies we adopt in early childhood can be shared with colleagues as they move into the early years of school.


Absolutely. And I mean, I'm a strong advocate for the first 2000 days. They lay the foundation for children's life trajectories and life successes. And I'm an advocate for our life readiness rather than, necessarily getting ready for the next phase. But I think, really, I cannot speak more highly of the importance of the early childhood educator in creating that rich trajectory for children particularly across all learning domains but particularly when it comes to children's self-regulation. - And feeling more confident about what we know and understand about self-regulation so that we can make the decisions in early childhood that support children and then feel like they can move in a really positive way into their early years of school. I think that sort of changes the conversation.


Yeah, absolutely. And can I say you're all going to feel really confident about this by the end of this webinar.


Indeed, indeed. So, keep going, Cathrine. –


You'll be on the screen instead of Cathrine and I. But in terms of, if self-regulation is so important then how to children learn to regulate their emotions and thoughts and behaviours? And I guess the one thing that is critical is children aren't born with the capacity to inhibit responses, to direct their attention, to problem solve. They're born with the capacity or the potential to do that. And whether or not they reach that potential really depends on the relationships and the context in which they're kind of exposed to. And learning to control our impulses, to pay attention, to retain information is something that happens gradually.. And it starts in those early years, those first 2000 days. So I want to talk a little bit around, when I talked about the evidence-base, when we're talking about children's behaviour, Catharine, there's a number of different research realms that we need to draw on. So we need to look at psychology. We need to look at neuroscience. We need to look at pedagogy and practice research. And we also need to look at areas around child development.


All in 20 minutes, Cathrine. So, here we go, let's get going.


All in 20 minutes. So this is like, buckle up people we're going to go through a quick journey through the first five years. But I do really want to really talk about brain development for a moment because I think this is critical when it comes to children's behaviour and self-regulation. And nowhere do we see the debate around nature and nurture play out more effectively than in the realm of self-regulation. And we know that our genes when we're born kind of create a blueprint for how we're going to turn out. But it's our relationships and the quality of the relationships within our environments to which we're exposed that literally sculpt our brain. When we think about how self-regulation develops and this is kind of a little bit of a directional response. The idea is that, when we're born parts of our brain are yet to develop. So there's these growth principles that we refer to as proximodistal cephalocaudal. So the idea is that we develop in-out, and top-down. So the idea is that we're really influenced by the environments that we're exposed to. And so we really need to think about the thinking part of our brain, that cortex, is really influenced by our environment. So if children are exposed to rich and responsive environments then we see rich brain growth and development and they're primed for engaging with their environment and governing their behaviours. The flip side is if they're exposed to what I would refer to as socially toxic environments, it actually places them risk in terms of their engagement and development. So I want us to think a little bit about that and also consider the multiple contexts in which children operate. So the idea is, if we think about children they're influenced by their family, their environment, the broader context and the genes. Children do well when there's a sense of consensus and connection across the multiple contexts in which children operate. So the idea is if there's clear expectations and consensus between what's happening in the family and what's happening in the early childhood environment, then we say that they behaviours are more engaged, they're positive, and they do well. But when there's a mismatch between these expectations and children are placed at risk. So everyone here I'm sure everyone's familiar with the Marshmallow Experiment. So it was an experiment that was designed by Walter Mischel, back in the 1960's that looked at children's ability to kind of delay gratification. So the idea behind the experiment, Catharine, is that the children were presented with a marshmallow. And they were said, "If you can wait 20 minutes and don't eat the marshmallow, you'll get two marshmallows." And so, and it was a measure of whether children could delay their gratification and wait for the two marshmallows. So about a third of children can wait and about two thirds can't. And the children who can wait, predicts all kinds of really positive outcomes in terms of behaviour and development and learning. I'm using that as an example, because I want you to think about how our reaction shapes children's expectations and behaviours. So I want you to imagine the child who was promised the second marshmallow, and they wait and they wait and they wait the 20 minutes and then they never get it. So the child who's brought up in a context where they say, "If you're quiet and leave me alone, I'll play with you later." "If you do that, I'll buy you something." And it never happens. What does that do to that child's behaviour and expectations of adults and the environment? For me, I'm going to say, "I'm going to eat that first marshmallow straightaway because the second marshmallow is never happening and never coming." And so that's the child in your environment who doesn't know how to share, who fights for resources, he's competitive because they've learned through interactions, that they need to look out for themselves. And that is their expectations. So when we're thinking about social, emotional, learning and it's quite unique to other domains of learning it requires, I'm learning, as well as the learning of new skills. So we need to shift children's expectations so they know they can trust you as an adult. And that, that second marshmallow will come if they wait.


And Cathrine, there's a couple of comments here about people with large group sizes and there's a whole lot of complexity around there. The structures they have in their own services and people are keen to hear practical strategies. I guess what we're doing here is to really contextualize those practical strategies that we're going to talk about in subsequent webinars. And I think what we're doing here is providing the platform the underpinning thinking space. So indeed, a practical suggestion about some of the things you're talking about, is to take some of these big ideas into a staff meeting where you can talk about what you understand about some of these things. Do you really understand what self-regulation is? Do you understand what some of the expectations of the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework, mean in this context? So it's really a very important beginning step as you start to investigate particular practical strategies which we will get to.


Absolutely, and this really is the why and the rest of the webinars are the what we do. But we actually need to understand what are the needs of the different children and how do we respond to them accordingly. I just want to talk a little very very briefly and quickly about the notion of the self-regulatory brain. And I want you to think about the notion of the ship. So the idea is we had two components of our brain. We have our downstairs brain which is kind of like our primitive brain. And that's the brain that's about survival. So it controls our breathing, it controls our response to kind of critical things around fear. And then we have our upstairs brain which is really a thinking brain. And that's the brain that helps us make decisions, it's around our problem solving, and our empathy, and our rational thinking. It helps us kind of decide what we're going to problem solve and our flexibility. Now, the idea is that, if we are going to behave appropriately, we need both parts of the brain. We need the downstairs brain and the upstairs brain. And they work together beautifully. Like a ship, we need the hull not to have holes in it but we want the captain on the deck. So when we're talking about kind of big emotions and problems, often when we see children kind of experiencing really big emotions they're actually sitting in the downstairs brain. They're in their emotional brain. When we're working with children, and I want you to really think about this is because all of the practices that we focus on assume children are thinking, that they're there on the deck of their ship. And so, we're giving them problem solving strategies, we're discussing their behaviour, but if they are in their emotional brain, their fight or flight brain, then they're actually not able to think effectively. So when you're seeing a child who's having a big emotional meltdown, you're trying to kind of settle them and they're not able to settle, they are in their downstairs brain. So I want us to think a little bit about that because we're going to revisit that. And the ladder is critical. And I want to say the ladder because we want both sides. We want movement across. But you as the educator are the ladder. You help children move from their survival brain to their thinking brain. And a lot of the practices that we're going to engage with in the other webinars is around how do you move children from their heightened emotions up to the thinking brain? And how do we support them to do that?


 And maybe, Cathrine, that's a very good practical suggestion. It's to use that analogy and have a conversation about the children that you work with to see how that works in your space. So that would really lead to some great reflective practice thinking.


Absolutely. Now, as well as thinking about the neuroscience we also need to borrow from child development. So from a developmental perspective in terms of self-regulation, and this is the complexity, this is why challenging behaviours are so challenging Catharine, because they they're complex. In terms of self-regulation, children move from a phase of other-regulated when you're an infant. When parents decide, when will we try to decide, when they're going to sleep, and eat and change nappies. And then we move into this phase of what we call co-regulation. And this is a much more, like this is an interactive process of self-regulatory support where children are supported by adults. And then we move to one of self-regulation which is much more independent. But I do want to say that where previously it was believed that we needed to end at this point of self-regulation where children were independent and could able to regulate their own emotions and thoughts. What we know now, is that they move between self-regulation and co-regulation. And at times of stress, like what's happening at the moment around COVID, children need support from close supportive relationships from adults. And they move around that co-regulation. We also know that there's domain specific. So children move from being able to regulate their behaviours and their physical behaviours, then able to move and control their emotional behaviours. And the last component of self-regulatory development is what we call the cognitive component. And this continues to develop until we're around 20-23, . But just as they're sensitive to the periods for things like attachment. So we know the first 12 months of a child's life is particularly sensitive for developing attachment relationships. When it comes to self-regulation, the period from three to five is the most sensitive period for the development of these skills. And that means early childhood educators play a critical role in fostering children development.


And of course, the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework, has an emphasis on children's development so that we do know that space. So again, really knowing children well, knowing what we mean by healthy development over time is a really important part of educators engaging with these big ideas.


So I just want to finish this session really just kind of thinking a little bit around how do we support children to self-regulate? And this is just getting us to stop thinking about those big behaviours. And there's really three broad categories that we really need to think about in supporting or fostering children's behaviour and self-regulatory development. And it's really thinking about adult influences. So how do we create warm and responsive relationships? Do we display affection for children? Do we model self-regulation in terms of our behaviours? Do we support children at times of stress? The environments around how do we structure our environments so that it makes self-regulation manageable for children? Are they emotionally and physically safe? Are there clear expectations? Are there goals? Do children have a voice? And these will be unpacked really deeply in our next webinars.


And I think also Cathrine, you're reminding us of the elements of Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework which are that triple helix. And when I'm talking about this there'll be a lot of people who are nodding now that their connection between that adults in that space the educator in that space, really supporting children in really clear ways as well as of course responding to children's ideas, their curiosities, as well as having that really strong connection between adults and children making some of those decisions. So it's worth reminding us about the fact that is a really important part of the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework.


And they're interconnected. So what does the child bring to the environment? How does that environment interact with adult influences? And so it's really dynamic and it's complex. And we need to wear multiple lenses if we're going to... We can't just focus on child skills. We can't just think about the environment. And we need to think about what we bring to that environment, but also that past history of experiences that children have had with key adults in their lives.


Obviously, the enrolment process is really important, doesn't it? The process that you engage with families right at the very beginning. And again, you could think very practically about how you do some of that work and also how you continue to think about some of those strategies in that diagram that you've given us. Because I think that's a really helpful conversation to have with colleagues. Keep going, Cathrine, we're nearly at the end.


We got a little bit more to go. I want you to just think about self-regulation as a muscle. So in much the same way that when we use our muscles if we use them a lot, and I'm putting this like I'm raising my arms with an invisible bar, but they become weakened and they become challenged. So they'd become overused. And so what we know, is that there are certain aspects of our environment and there's certain qualities of adult relationships and connections with children that tire our muscles and make it more difficult for children to regulate. Like it's not a surprise that we often see children have tantrums at the end of the day when they're overtired and overwrought. Or often at birthday parties, we see children get particularly challenging in terms of those behaviours. And that's just because I've been behaving myself all day and I just can't do it anymore. And so when we look at the timings and the fluctuations of the day, this is something that I want you to think about. Are there times during the day that actually place children at risk of engaging in these big behaviours? So in terms of the routes to behaviours, and this is our other R, there are a number of factors that can kind of place children at risk of experiencing challenging behaviours. And not surprisingly, we're seeing a kind of an increase in challenging behaviours at the moment as a result of global things like COVID. We've experienced significant issues around the bush fires. So children experienced this directly and it increases their stress, but they also experience it indirectly through the disruption that it has on their relationships with key, like with educators and with parents and families. So I want us to think about that. We also know that there's very strong social determinants that influence children's behaviours. There's this very strong relationship between children who are brought up in very low socioeconomic areas or poverty and heightened behaviours. And again, it's not the low SES that's the problem, it's the stresses that surround being brought up in a challenging environment in terms of those experiences and the risk that it plays. So I want to talk just a little briefly about some of these in relation to stress. And I just want to touch on this very briefly because I think this is something a lot of people are talking about trauma. I talk about stress. And certainly there's some stress that's traumatic but there's also normal stress. And I want to make that really important, kind of emphasize the importance of allowing children to experience some level of stress because tolerable stress builds resilience in terms of the children's behaviour. They need to learn that there are challenges that they don't always get things right. And that provides a platform for problem solving, which we're really going to talk about in our webinar on those practices. What we need to protect children from, however, is this notion of traumatic stress or chronic stress. And traumatic stress are things like COVID and those kinds of experiences that happen in violence or hospitalization. Chronic stress is probably our most concern for those of you who are seeing big behaviours with children. We know things like being exposed to abuse and neglect or chronic poverty really impacts children's brains. And they kind of get rewired in a way that it's not about learning, and we're naturally born to learn. But what we find is children who experience chronic and constant and ongoing and pervasive levels of stress, it rewires their brain for survival. So what happens is they functioning constantly in the hull of the boat. So the idea is that the bottom part of our brain which is we call it our amygdala and hippocampus. So our amygdala or Amy as we like to call her. Her job is to protect us. Protect us from things. She's primitive. We're born with Amy. So the idea is that, you put your hand on a hot stove, Catharine, and you pull your hand off before you even have time to think that's hot, it's burning. So that's Amy, she's looking after us. And the hippocampus, which is like the memory around that. So that idea is all of us we'll have memories where we smell something and we get this response and (indistinct) our brainstem.


And Cathrine, if people are really concerned about individual children, would we be recommending that they make connections with other professionals and they seek out partnerships with child health nurses, other professionals and therapists? Because at some point we might go actually, I'm a bit outside my depth here I need to actually speak to other professionals.


Yeah, absolutely. And in terms of the continuum of challenging behaviours there's behaviours that we cando something about in the learning environment and then there's behaviours where children require additional support. And we'll certainly be talking about those in our webinars as well. We're going to have a psychologist come to talk to us and we'll talk about some of those practices. But what I want you to think about, and this is some of the frustrations that we're faced with as parents and as educators, this idea, I call it the amygdala hijack. So it's this idea is that the information... So we're faced with a stressful experience and it goes into Amy and Amy goes, "This is a scary experience I need to deal with it straight away." And she stops any information getting through to our thinking brain. And our thinking brain is the one who problem solves, reflects, and learns. But what happens with the amygdala hijack, it's like we're in that bottom part of the brain, it's like there's been a mutiny and they've taken the captain and dragged the captain downstairs down that ladder, getting downstairs, the ladder is gone, we can't see the ships coming the other way, we can't see the big waves, we can't see the turbulence. And that's where we're sitting in terms of that high levels of stress. Children who experience chronic and pervasive stress are in that bottom half of their brain. So their whole life, Catharine, is like a red hot stove and they become sensitive to stress. And these are the children, these are the big behaviours that we're talking about and how do we support? So in our webinar three, we're going to talk about how we make that ladder strong enough to bring them back up on the deck.


And Cathrine, we're right at the end of our first webinar, is there any last sort of minute things you'd like to share with us as we farewell our people who have joined us today?


I do, and I just want to jump forward. I'm going to ask for a little bit of... We're going to do some homework, if that's okay with everyone.


Yes, take home reflection, I think is what we're going to call it, Cathrine.


Dan Siegel talks about this notion of "Windows of Tolerance". So the idea is that we all have a window where we feel calm, where we feel connected, where we feel regulated, and we can confront challenge. So when children are outside that window of tolerance, where we're seeing really aggressive and big behaviours or where we're seeing that they've kind of frozen, then they can't function. So what I want us to think about and all of you here and all of you have a child in your mind straightaway, I'm sure they do.Because this is the child that we're going to think about in terms of guiding the behaviours. Because if we can get it right for this child we can get it right for all the other children. So I want you to think about this child and between now and when we see each other again, I'm going to really get you to observe and look at when those big behaviours occur. And I want you to look at when those big behaviours occur and what takes them outside their window of tolerance. So as a parent, what might take you out of a window of tolerance? Might be when your two-year-old has a tantrum. So you'll know that there are triggers. But you actually need, and you talked about that observation previously, Catharine, that's so critical. I want you to really step back and observe. Are there times in the day when it happens? Is it when they're with particular children? Is it when they have to fight for resources? Is it first thing in the morning because something's happened on the way to the service?


It's a very practical invitation that you're giving us there. I think is really asking us, and it's a practical strategy. It's going and observing more deeply, looking really closely, coming back with a really informed sense of what's happening with the with the group that you work with. And we know that there are some groups of 33 here. So you might want to share that task with your colleagues and say, let's all look really deeply. As we prepare to come back and have some further conversations.


And can I encourage you to actually really focus on the same child because the different kind of lenses that you bring. So, maybe don't focus on 30 different children have actually a system where you do your observations independently but then you come back. Cause what we're trying to do is we're trying to find out what is the size of a child's window. So children who are pretty stressed have a pretty small window. I mean, some of us might have a pretty small window at the moment with everything that we've juggled over the last 18 months. So we want to find out what's the size of their window but also what are the factors or the triggers that take us outside the window and map it across the day. So look at those experiences and come back with that because then we're going to think about how do we get him back into that window? And then what do we do afterwards to support them in terms of developing these self-regulatory skills that will set them up.


Thank you so much, Cathrine. I think there's so much food for thought here. Remember that there will be a recording so you can go back and have a look and share it with some colleagues. And also you can start to consider some of the things that really resonate with you. Things that you've probably already tried and you think actually that's really reminds me of that's a really good important strategy. Go back into the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework, re-investigate those ideas in the sense that they inform and shape some of the thinking that we're doing here today. And as Cathrine reminds us, there will be opportunities for us to take all of these underpinning whys into a what space which is a much more practical. Thank you very much, Cathrine, for joining us. And thank you very much to everybody who's taken the time to join us online. Thank you very much, everybody. And see you next time, see ya. (upbeat music) 

Webinar 2

This session is a Q&A event, hosted by Catharine Hydon, with two experienced Victorian early childhood teachers and a clinical psychologist. The panel discusses successful behaviour guidance strategies, the role and impact of the learning environment, and the importance of working in partnership with families.


Webinar 2 - Transcript

Good afternoon everybody and welcome to the second in the 'Guiding Children's Behaviour, regulation respect and relationships webinar series' brought to you by the Department of Education and Training in partnership with Early Childhood Australia. Before we start it's important that we pause for a moment and acknowledge the traditional owners on whose country we're all on. I acknowledge that we're here on the lands of the Kulin nation across Victoria and I want to particularly pay respects to elders past, present and the elders who are emerging in our early childhood education and care settings and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, families and educators that you work with. I particularly want to draw our attention to the words of Auntie Geraldine Atkinson, in the introduction to the Marrung Education Plan, that encourages us all, to embed reconciliation and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives into our daily work and make sure that the doors are held wide open to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and their families. My name is Catharine Hydon and I would particularly like to welcome you to this second event. Thank you for those people who joined us last time and welcome back for you who've joined us the second time around and also welcome to people who haven't been here the first time. Remember the recordings are available, so you'd be able to go and check out what we talked about last week. I want to also particularly shout out to all of the educators across Victoria, who are really working very hard to support the wellbeing of children and families as we navigate these really fluid times. So thank you very much for the work that you do and thank you for taking the time to join us. We know that it's a busy time, it's a busy time any time of the day but thank you for making the time to be with us and great if you are joining with your colleagues and hopefully some of these ideas will spark further conversations and discussions in your own settings. As I said, my name is Catharine and I'll be your host today, we're going to be joined by an amazing panel of people who are going to share some very practical examples. And this is the opportunity for us to build on the why of the conversation we heard last time with Cathrine and think a little bit more about some of the practical applications as we navigate this space of supporting children's behaviour and thinking about their self-regulation. We know that there's a great need for this conversation, so hopefully there you're getting ideas that you can share with your colleagues. There's also going to be a series of online events that you can participate in. So as I said this is number two of a series of four, so there'll be other opportunities, we'll be joined next time by Cathrine Nielsen-Hewett again and some other practitioners as we navigate all these four events. So today's session is a panel discussion and soon we'll be joined by a panel of early childhood professionals, experienced professionals so we can dive further into guiding children's behaviour and as I said get some very practical suggestions. So the focus here is about guiding behaviour and regulation and respect and relationships for all children. So we're thinking very broadly about the ways in which we support all children in our program. We do know that you are working with children who have specific diagnoses, and you might be working with early intervention professionals. But our focus today is thinking very broadly about all the children who are in your services and that you work with on a regular basis to support their behaviour and support their regulation and the way they interact with other children in the program and indeed other adults. And this is the second as we said of the four sessions and last time you remember that Cathrine Nielsen-Hewett explored some of the underlying influences and factors in us understanding children's behaviour. And we're going to build on that with our panel conversation because that's going to be focusing on everyday practice, so some of the questions that you raised last time we're going to see if we can weave into the panel conversations as we go. We'll certainly do our best to incorporate some of the questions you have but if not, if we don't get a chance to do that today we're going to weave them into our conversations as we keep going. We'll make sure that we reference the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework because that's an essential part of the thinking that we're doing in terms of practical applications. And I note I'm sure that many of you are thinking about how these connects to your practice experiences. So make sure you keep a few notes and you can share those with your colleagues as you're making different decisions as you move forward. And of course we are wanting to make sure that this is a space that we as early childhood professionals can think about strength based approaches and how we can honour the rights and best interests of the children that we work with. And now we want to just recap a few of the ideas that we talked about last time. So just to refresh your memory I know lots of you are online, so you know about these but just for those of you who weren't here or for those of you who had a very busy week, and you want to refocus. You remember that we talked about three big ideas and Cathrine Nielsen-Hewett shaped that around for us in connection to the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework. Thinking particularly about regulation, the role of self regulation is a key component of children's behaviour and engagement with the learning environment. And we'll hear more about the learning environment from Cathrine Nielsen-Hewett next time. And we also talked about respect, so again really strongly connecting to practice principles in the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework about respectful relationships and the way we build partnerships with families. The important notion of respect for children, respect for children's culture and their family context, thinking about the amazing image that's in the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework that focuses really strongly on the context for children and thinking about their relationships that they have, thinking about the ways in which we draw on what children already know can do and understand the context of our decisions. And of course the relationships that we have respectful relationships again a very prominent feature of the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework and a need for a strong connection and strong relationships that help us understand where children are at and then build the decisions that we will craft the decisions that we're going to make into an order to support children's self-regulation and to guide their behaviour. So some of these ideas will be picked up further from our panelists, who'll talk about the practical application of some of these in their everyday work with children. There's also an opportunity here and the next slide takes us to the way we built on those ideas. So we added a couple of really strong concepts that again connect with the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework that help us to expand our understanding of the why around behaviour and the why around self-regulation. And again we'll come back to some of those ideas in more detail when we speak to Cathrine Nielsen-Hewett next time. So one of those extra ones that we talked about was roots the idea again of common pathways to challenging behaviour, context of influence, the ways in which we can connect with the neighbourhood, the broader social context, families and help those big behaviours find a way to be navigated by the children that we work with. And the last one responses, so really thinking about the ways that we use assessment for learning and development and integrated teaching and learning approaches, good practices within the practice principles within the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework to create responsive environments, responsive pedagogical practices that really support children's needs and their behaviour and help children to be able to make some really strong decisions in their learning, in the context that they're working in. And again we're going to hear from our panelists who will help us understand what that might look like and I'm sure they're going to give some very practical ideas and advice about some of the things that have worked for them. And hopefully some of these will resonate with you and some of the ideas will be very new, so we'll look forward to hearing from them in just a moment. And the next slide is a particular image that resonated with lots of people. I've had lots of chats with educators in all sorts of different parts of Victoria, who, for whom this boat image really worked for them, that there was quite a number of educators who were really could connect with the idea of children being in that bottom downstairs brain and then wanting to support children through that ladder that scaffolding support to get to the upper deck, their upper upstairs brain. So lots of great conversations I'm sure that it had in your setting that gave you a sense of where children were up to and what your role was in terms of that scaffolding ladder of supporting children to be on their own deck, so to speak. So great analogy there that I'm sure would have worked with lots of you. So we're really keen to continue to hear from you about your ideas. So I also want to share with you a couple of things that came out of the conversations we had last time. So we've done a really good thing here of like drawing together some of your ideas. So thank you very much for those who shared them and continue to do so if you would like to share those again, if you find the chat distracting, please turn it off. But in the next slide we can show you a collection of really strong ideas that have helped us formulate what you think. So in that previous question we invited you once again to share your thoughts but in this word cloud you gave us a whole range of different challenges and thinking that you were doing around the work of supporting children's behaviour and also helping to support their self regulation. So those stories and ideas are really powerful and we thank you for that. I guess we want to just draw those together and get a sense of what we might take from that. I think we recognise that for some of you this is at times a bit of a stressful space and we know that you drawing on your professionalism to understand how you might shape the program to best meet the needs and interests of the children and that we're thinking about strength based approaches in our responses to children and their families. We also know that it's actually a really, a lot of the work that you're doing does work, it supports children, they change over time and some children make really big gains in the work that they do with you. And I also understand so I think it's worth noting that we hold a particular professional responsibility to do some of the heavy lifting in the thinking here so that we can start to share those ideas with families as we make decisions about how to shape programs that best meet children's needs. So some of the conversations we'll have with the panelists today might provide us with a bit more insight around that. We also know that educators make a range of decisions that make sometimes make it easier or more difficult for children to regulate. And some of you raise the group time conversation and we could probably talk for a week about group time but it's interesting to think about group time as an example. I mean how long are we asking children to sit together in a large group? Perhaps we might replace those with smaller group opportunities or go outside for example or indeed really rethink how group times can work effectively for the children that you work with. You all of you raise the issue of consistency, as you can say that's the biggest word in our word cloud and making sure that you're having conversations with educators, educator colleagues to make sure that the ideas you're thinking about align with the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework, practise principles that they're focused on outcomes for children, they referenced children's contexts and that you have a plan about what you're going to do on a daily basis. Some of you raise the issue of inconsistency and how that really challenged the ways you were approaching your strategy. So again if that's something that you need to talk about with your colleagues I'd definitely put it on the agenda for your reflective practice meetings. And of course you talked to lots of, about different strategies in your pedagogical practice. And I think they're going to be lots more ideas that come from our panelists. So speaking of which we should get on to our panelist conversations. So we're going to bring up our panelists now and they're going to join us. And let me just introduce who we've got an our panel today. I'm going to ask them a couple of questions and we're going to have a bit of a conversation. I'd really like you to feel like you're joining us at the staff room table and that you can be part of the conversation by either putting things in the chat questions that you would like to share with us or indeed strategies that have worked for you and perhaps connections to some of the ideas that Cathrine Nielsen-Hewett talked about last time. So it's my absolute pleasure to welcome three panelists to our panel discussion today, Leanne Mits who's at Pope Road Kindergarten in Blackburn. She was the early childhood teacher of the year in 2019 and she's got about 30 plus years experience, she hasn't told us what the plus means in early childhood education and care. And she's taught in rural Victoria in Melbourne in a range of different settings. And she works in a community run standalone kindergarten and she's got multiple roles as many of you do nominated supervisor educational leader and the teacher of the three to five-year-old program. So thank you very much Leanne for joining us, we do have Sally. And Sally Quantrelle is from Central Kindergarten in Warrnambool roll all the way down in Warrnambool, so great that you can join us from Warrnambool Sally. Sally is also a very experienced early childhood teacher and the director and she leads a team of people at Central Kindergarten in Warrnambool. And she's very passionate about early childhood education and she's again 35 plus years working in Australia and internationally, so thank you very much for joining us Sally. And Teigan Leonard is a clinical psychologist, so we're broadening our horizons here and having people from different, with different disciplines and it's great and really reflective of what the Victorian Early Learning and Development Framework talks about in terms of our partnerships with other professionals, so fantastic to have you here Teigan. Teigan has a passion about helping people be the very best they can be and that's led you to become a psychologist and you're now someone who helps that work on a daily basis and you love seeing the work that happens with children and families to achieve things that they didn't think were possible, so you're a graduate of Monash University with a Bachelor of Arts Honours in Psychology and a Master's of Developmental Psychology, so thank you very much for being part of our conversation today. So maybe I will just start right off and say I'm interested in all three of your perspectives on why self-regulation and guiding children's behaviour is an important part of the work we do every day in early childhood education and care. So maybe Leanne I can start with you, why does this matter for us? Why is it important for children?


Thank you Catharine, I'm really thrilled to be here so thanks for the opportunity. I think there's a whole host of responses I could offer that and could I just start by saying that I think we have an amazing privileged role, you know, in early childhood education that has so much potential and we can bring so much creativity and so much of ourself to that work. And so to answer your question in relation to that first response it's because I think who we are as humans and who we are as citizens makes a difference to who we bring to the classroom and to the groups of children that we work with. And I think one of the opportunities but also the responsibilities that we have as professionals in the early childhood space is as we all know through our studies at university and or diplomas or whatever it is that we're doing, that we're looking at the child holistically. This is not, the Early Years Learning and Development Framework isn't a curriculum that has a content that needs to be delivered. And so as early childhood educators, we, I believe are looking at children holistically so that we're supporting children for lifelong learning and life trajectories. And that's amazingly exciting but also full of a huge responsibility.


Yeah, absolutely.


So in thinking about what to chat with us with the group today I looked up another analogy, I love your boat one, but another analogy is like a car and the work of Dr. Stewart Shanker talks about if you're trying to stick to 25 kilometers an hour on a car to drive a car at that same speed, you need to regulate your gears, you need to regulate your driving according to the wind and the road and all the other drivers on the road. And some of us can do that better than others and that takes a long time to learn the knack of that to achieve that outcome if that's the goal. And I think self-regulation, if I think of it like the boat or I think of it like the car analogy, it takes time and it's really complex. And, you know, I think if we're really honest I think there's a lot of primary school children, secondary school children, adolescents and let's face it adults that maybe don't always have the self-regulation that we wish we had. And I'll be really honest in this space, I was on my lower deck today at work, me as the adult. When I looked at your screen just then I had a moment this afternoon with 25 four to five year olds. And I was the only person with the majority of the group we were outside because my other two colleagues were inside doing other things that needed their absolute attention in one in the bathroom and one somewhere else. And I actually had to put a few things into place that I've actually never before today done before to make sure I got myself on the top deck so that I could support children to be on the top deck. And I think I'm just giving you this sharing because the reality is, I think from the time children are born they're learning how the child, the world works and how they work within it. And so this space of early childhood that we have the privilege and the pleasure and the responsibility of working in is the space where so much from a neurological perspective that learning and growing and sorting out and understanding it happens. And I feel like I just want to touch quickly on that word self-regulation in terms of it's not in my view it's not managing children's behaviour it's guiding children's behaviour and I know you haven't said managing in this space but I think it's just worth pointing out that when I went to uni a long time ago, I don't feel like that was pointed out to me well enough and that's something that I've had to grow to come to understand. Well I guess just in finishing this little part for me is that I tell you this scenario about today that was really tricky. I put a strategy into place that I pulled out of my back pocket, I've never done before I had to get myself onto the top deck of the boat 'cause I wasn't doing well today in this little moment of time. And I had to say, that's okay, I'm a human being and that's what happens to children too. And so it's a great thing and an important thing for us to aim for but always remember the complexity of it. It's not linear, it goes up and down and go backwards like a dance all the time. I think it's an interesting space.


Yeah thank you Leanne and thank you for sharing that because I think there's probably a lot of people online who think oh, actually self-regulation doesn't just, we don't get to a point and we go we're all done, it's something that we work on over time and we also know that for some of you, you're seeing children for one year. One year in the time that they are learning in these really substantial things. So I'd love to come back and talk a little bit more about the ideas you had in your back pocket, so hold that thought. Sally what about you? Why is self-regulation and guiding children's behaviour an important part of the work you've done over many, many years and important for children?


Look I think Leanne touched on a few of those points, what I was thinking when I reflected on this was the point that when children are in their preschool year, the four to five-year-old year, this might be the first time they've really had to consider in any great extent the impact of their behaviour on anyone else around them. They might be in a small group, might be in the large group, it might just be on their one person they're hoping to develop a friendship with. So they're actually really starting to think about what I'm doing and how I'm behaving and how I'm looking and how I'm sounding impacts on the person that's near them or a large group. It could be the adults, it could be the children but they're often making their first real friends. So it really has quite an impact on how they feel about themselves, how they look to other children. So that starting to understand how you affect other people in a group setting then builds into how you develop relationships, developing relationships with the educators, with the children around you and I feel in the way we learn together in a group setting like this, a lot of it's based on relationships. And so you have to have those understandings about each other and that ability to monitor the way you affect other people to then be able to establish that which in turn leads to that engagement with learning. And that safe engagement, in a safe space that we can all be comfortable and engaged in learning together.


And I love the way you're connecting it with relationships because that's such an important part of navigating the rest of your life, really trying to figure out how to be connected to other people how to drive that car, how to get to the upper deck, how to figure out, you know, who that person is in relation to me, it's quite a sophisticated process. And I guess that's one of the reasons why Cathrine Nielsen-Hewett took us into that why space, you know, why is this important? And I think you've reminded us of some of those things. Teigan, what about you? What would you say about the importance of self regulation and guidance for children's behaviour? All children not just children who might be diagnosed with something, etc but you know the whole of the group that we're working with.


Yeah and I think Leanne and Sally covered it so beautifully that it's not just about self-regulation itself, but it allows so much more learning to occur when, whether it's a child or an adult is feeling regulated. I guess extending on some of the things Leanne in particular was talking about one of my passions in supporting children to regulate and that guidance and support is that it allows us as the adults in the room to also feel more regulated ourselves which means we can provide better quality programs and learning opportunities and relationship development with the children that we're supporting. So by supporting different levels of regulation within the classroom we're allowing not just children to be in a space where they can learn and engage but we're allowing ourselves to be in a space where we can get a lot of satisfaction from the role and support children to learn and engage in other things as well.


It's a deeply satisfying space, I guess you know, we're going to hear from our practitioners here to say, what ideas actually work. And when you see children figuring out some of those things, as you say that they're quite complex, there is a deep satisfaction as a professional, you think actually really supported children to be able to learn new things and indeed their families to learn new things about children. And indeed when we learn new strategies like Leanne reflecting on then we get the opportunity to add that to our repertoire. And I guess you're hearing today from experienced professionals who have had lots of practice which is one of the reason why they asked them to be here. And I guess we want to be kind on ourselves too and know that there's a learning process over time that we're acquiring new skills over time. And we also want to have these conversations back and forth with other professionals so we can build our repertoire, so I know many people are undertaking that work as we speak. So let me go back around and see whether we can identify some particular practice principles, I think we're going to draw from the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework here particularly that might really resonate with you about, that help you identify strategies. So as of course, you all know we have a suite of practice principles in the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework partnerships with professionals partnerships with families, assessment for learning. We have integrated approaches, we have reflective practice a whole suite of different ideas here. But I'm wondering whether we can hear, maybe start with you Sally, is there a particular, one of those practice principles that you think is really important as you start to make practical decisions around supporting children's behaviour and supporting their self-regulation? Do you have a reference point that you'd go to in that conversation?


Oh that's an interesting point when you asked me to think about that because I looked through all the principles and I found things that I could hang a hook on and nearly all of them and I said, okay go back and really think about which one covers what you want most. I almost went with integrated approaches, I almost went with partnership with parents but then I actually went back and looked at reflective practice and how that actually is part of the whole learning cycle. And in fact, all of those other things that came up to me fell into that because it's about gathering that information. You might be making a set of observations or a chart to find out when certain behaviours are happening, what the trigger is, who's there, what time of day it is. And then you gather that information from what you observed as a child, you gather information from the families. You might gather observations from the other staff, have a chat to them about whether they've been seeing, any specialists, any PDs, you draw in strategies that you might have used before with another child that might've worked who had similar behaviours. So you then look at your pedagogy, you look at what's happening in the room. How have you run the schedule? What experience have you got out? Are you doing enough indoor outdoor time? So you're really pulling all of those things together and reflecting on how they fit together in the context of this child's behaviour or self-regulation that you're working with. So for me, I think the reflective practice seemed to be the one that resonated most to me when I was thinking about it because it draws all of those things together. Then you okay, let's have a go let's try that new strategy. Let's pull out of the back pocket and have a go and see with all of those things in place that we know, is this going to be the thing that works? Yeah it worked, oh no it didn't. Let's go back through the cycle again and look back again and see whether we've got something else that we might've gone to, oh that PD we had the other day, oh that webinar we went to with Catharine. Remember she mentioned that works. So I think reflective practice for me as the one that resonated most, it draws everything together.


And you've helped us out no end there Sally, we didn't even prepare this in advance is that actually Cathrine Nielsen-Hewett at the in our first webinar invited all of the people who were present to go and do some observations and getting more information. And I think there's a real important message there as sometimes that we're trying to, we quickly go to want to fix something, but maybe we need to step back and engage really strongly with the planning cycle. And I know of course there are situations that you need to immediately respond to, I absolutely understand that. But maybe we can go and find out more information and use that planning cycle, use that reflective practice process to try to.


Really important if it's, a particular challenging behaviour and I've had a recent conversation with a parent and I said, let's just pick one, let's just work on that one thing 'cause there were several things and yeah we worked hand in hand with just the one thing and that little boy has actually moved on really quite quickly from that behaviour because we're working together with a similar strategy and supporting each other. The other thing that I came across accidentally, a piece of spare paper that I sort of quickly moved was a chart that I made up about some challenging behaviour a couple of years ago. And it was basically a chart and it was the different behaviours, it was hitting, it was biting, it was kicking and it was, had dates, had times. And I did that for a couple of weeks to actually really hone down to what was going on.


What was going on.


and then we worked with it, yeah.


Knowledge is power, isn't it Sally? So if we actually have data, our own data created by us, sometimes the situation, sometimes it's going to warrant some further conversations and perhaps Teigan you can help us to know when would we need to get further information and when we would need to ask some other professionals. But sometimes when we collect our own data we realise, oh hold on a second, the situation is not as bad as I thought or it doesn't happen as much as I've thought. And I love the idea Sally that you're engaging your other colleagues in that process. So a bit more about that, why do you get your colleagues to be part of that thinking process?


Because probably part of one of the most powerful things and I'm very fortunate in the centre in that I'm at at the moment I have two very experienced colleagues two educators who work with me and they will see things that I don't see, I can't be there 100% of the time for 100% of the children. So I really value their input and we talk as I'm sure everyone does, we talk every single day about the children in particular things we've noted, today we had a bit of a chat and noted a few things at the end of the day, but I encouraged them to also make those notes, it's not just to me to do, they have a lot of important information. They will have chats to the children or parents that I don't hear, that they fill me in on things that I would have missed out, so we put the puzzle together.


Yeah great, thank you so much for that really thinking about the way you use reflective practice. And so again, some of you might be sitting here thinking actually I really do need to generate a bit more of an engagement around that process so that we've got a bit of a rigorous process around gathering information. So Teigan, do you want to take us through a practice principle that particularly resonates for you as we navigate this space?


I think the main one that's obvious to me as the educator on the panel is the partnership with professionals. I have, whilst I am not an educator, I have experience working in the early education space both working alongside and building partnerships with early educators, but also as an early education and care manager for a short stint across some long day care centres. So I have seen it from both sides, and I think one of my big passions and learning within that is looking at how that partnership is established and what the goals of it are and defining clear roles within it. And the, I think our comfort zone when we're looking at a challenging situation is what we know really well and what we would try in. And so as a psychologist I will often come at it from quite a clinical way of thinking and we'll have the education approach and the language between the two doesn't always align even if we're meaning the same things. And the way that I might say something might really be triggering for someone else and very much not how we talk in this space and vice versa. So the way that I've seen some beautiful partnerships and the most effective partnerships be built is in what we call the transdisciplinary model. So we've got multidisciplinary with these different disciplines who do their own thing. So you've got a psychologist who looks at it from a psychology perspective. Speech pathologist who looks from the speech pathology perspective the educator from the educational perspective. And you bring all that to the table and that's great. I think that's our comfort zone. But what the research shows us is most effective is that transdisciplinary approach where we start to get some role release. So we genuinely work together to, as the psychologist I release some of my role and provide the appropriate training and support, for you to be able to be competent to do that as an educator or as another therapist. But it also has to happen the other way, I needed to educator that I'm working in partnership with to release some of their roles into me so I can build up that shared language. I can understand what their goals are and where they're at in their planning cycle. And so bringing I guess that transdisciplinary model to be a true partnership. So when you walk into a room if there's a professional in the room, my ideal scenario and I've seen it work beautifully is that you don't know who the psych, you don't know who the teacher is because everyone's on the same page.


And you want to be generating that sense in your service to on a daily basis. Because for example some children might find arrival to the early childhood program a little bit stressful, some of us all find coming into a new space a little bit stressful, some children, you know don't mind it at all. But you can imagine if say you're a person at the front desk at an early childhood service and you have an administrative role. Your role in welcoming the children and saying, hello and you know giving that really fantastic welcome right at the front door, I know some of you don't have services that have that sort of shape to them, but some of you do. That there's a way that we can involve people in administration, the cook. You know, all these different people who are part of it, people who might regularly visit you from your approved provider or from your early years manager, a whole range of different people, as well as clinicians as you say, maternal and child health nurses, we're all working together. And I think that's the, we know that happens for children who have particular diagnoses, but we want to make sure that partnership works also for all children. So that helps to build your capacity to understand children in more detail.


Yeah and I think having the, there's always that risk for that role release that we go too far and we assume we can do everything, I will never be a great educator. I know some of the principals, I can talk the talk but I'm never going to be as good as someone who specialises in that. And so knowing those boundaries and knowing when to refer on and bring in that additional support. So you mentioned before when to refer on children when things are getting too much.


Tricky yeah and maybe we'll come back to that Teigan in terms of practical strategies because I think that is helpful to say when is it that I need to do that? Because of course, for many children as both Sally and Leanne had suggested that this is just the normal part of navigating your day, but there might be a time when you might need to go, okay what do I need to do next? So we might come back to that in terms of practical strategies. Leanne how about you? What of the practice principles in the Victorian Early Years and Development Framework particularly stands out to you? I'm sure you will be fierce agreement with some of the things that we've said already but what's your thoughts?


Do you mind if I just respond to something that Teigan said?




Before I respond to that Catharine please. Teigan when you were talking then I was thinking about being an 18 year old at uni which was some time ago and what my image of an educator or teacher was at that point of my training. And then when I'd finished uni and I was one year, two year, five years, 10 years, 15, 20 years out of uni, my image of the teacher kept shifting and changing because I began, I feel like I began to come to know myself in a different way in this space and I was re-defining and re-imagining what my image of a teacher is of an educator. And I feel like what you've just described is exactly what happens in our practice and probably everyone that's here today all have connections with all of those other professionals the way we need to work together. I can tell you with my hand on my heart, when I went to uni I had no idea that that would probably be the work that I was doing. And so I think I, Catharine I just wanted to take a moment to say that, I know I transgress a bit but I think our image of children is really important and if we see children as capable and competent, it will and we go into moments with children and moments of learning and living with children. I always say to families that we live at kindergarten together.


Yeah we do.


We don't just learn at kindergarten together we live here all day, all week, all year. And so we enter this space with children with an image of a strong, capable, competent, curious child. But I think we have to also say, well what is my image of myself, ourselves? Then I asked myself what is my image of the environment and the impact that that has, what is my image of education, what is education for? And then to get to your point, what is image of families? And so I am fiercely agreeing with what Sally said, And I think reflective practice just covers all things, It's like this umbrella for all things, but in relation to families, I think the thing that I've learned and it took some time to learn this is that I think listening just, it just cannot be emphasised enough. And you know, in the space of reconciliation if we go there for a quick moment, it really is predominantly about listening, it's about relationships, it's about respect. And so if we're talking about children and self-regulation is that not about listening? Is that not about relationships and respect? And so I think I've come to understand Carla Rinaldi form Reggio Emilia talks a lot about the pedagogy of listening and I would really encourage people to look into that more deeply, if that is something you'd like to do. And she talks about listening for information and understanding rather than listening to have a reply.


This is good advice, isn't it?


Yeah that practice principle about engaging with families and the participation in families, just those words, engagement with families, participating with families, I see them to be much deeper than families being involved. And I think we need to maybe unpack some of the words that we use sometimes maybe without just thinking about them with intent. And so some of our reflective practice could be about well is participation of families the same as families being involved? Is the engagement of families the same? I don't think they are, but I think we all need to work out what that is for ourselves.




So for us they're different. And so for me, the practice principle about the engagement with families is really critical and could I just tell a quick story, maybe that gives an example of that.


Yeah sure.


We're currently meeting with families about whether children moving on to school next year or having a second funded year of kinder might be in the best interest for their children. So we're having some really challenging conversations with some families and the responses that we're getting back from families couldn't be more different. So some families nearly wrapped their arms around you. One father had his hands like this and he wasn't being religious but he was being very spiritual in saying thank you for bringing this to our attention. And because of my and our relationship with his family, we could have that hard conversation. But then other families, some were very rude in fact and some were very hurtful and I left in tears to be honest at one meeting last week. And it doesn't get easier sometimes, but I have to keep telling myself I need the family as much as they need me, we are a partner, we are, we have to be.


A partnership yes.


Exactly and so I had to find another way to be with that family that they left upset and I left upset because yeah there would be many reasons for it.


And I guess Leanne what you're reminding us of there is the importance of ethical relationships with families, those partnerships that we create to give the context around who children are and how they navigate that space. Because you know, for some families a conversation around children's self-regulation and their behaviour is going to be something that, you know that sounds okay, that's something that I might've been talking about at home with my family, etc, but for potentially for other families it's a difficult conversation. So we can just talk practically for a second, do you talk about children's behaviour and self regulation with all families? Do you talk about that?


We do it in different ways at different times of the year and through different examples.




But the bottom line is yes. And we do it in different ways that that looks different, there's a small bit of it in our philosophy, there's a small bit of it on our website, there's a bit of a parent handbook. We unpack it at the parent night in February when families are first being welcomed in some of the exchanges that go home with families with documentation of children's learning, we link it into some of the learning that's going on, very much especially in those early days where we're talking about children developing a sense of identity, place and belonging at kindergarten and why this is part of all of that. Look, another quick story is that this week we just got some most beautiful knitted little dolls, they're called identity dolls of each of the children. So each of the children were interviewed to see what they would like their doll to look like, a friend has knitted them all. And so this was an opportunity to talk to the families about why we've got the dolls, what it means in relation to identity, but what it means in relation to children learning more about themselves to learn more about their identity.


And their self-regulation and who they are in relation to other children. You can see that sort of strategy being really practical.


Yeah and not assuming that just because I use the word as an educator identity, that I know that every family is going to know what I mean by that. So I need to unpack that through storytelling and through narrative with our families. And we have a lot of families with English as a second or third language. And so photographs work really, very helpful for that space and making sure every day we go out and talk to three, four, five people each.


Yeah everyday.


So we can unpack something with them.


Well and I think you're helping us hit in the direction of practicalities. Because I know that there are people here who want to hear from you about your tips, you know, what actually works in terms of supporting children to understand their own selves, to move to their top deck. So if you like it with thinking about that car analogy, as you said or the boat analogy it's what's on that ladder, you know, like what are the rungs on that ladder? So Sally do you want to share some of the strategies that have worked for you in terms of supporting, we've heard from Leanne in terms of multiple conversations with families over many, many ways. But what some of things that have worked for you in terms of supporting children's behaviour and self-regulation?


Look there's a variety of things that of course it, it depends where the self-regulation issues are coming from, but I sort of, I brainstorm a whole heap of things and I thought, well we're going to look at a few good ones.


Yeah good ones are the top ones .


Well something that I always have in my program all the time is a retreat space. And it's, so that children have a place where they can go, at the moment the last two terms we've got a box for one which is a large box.


For one.


For one and it's got a number one, and the one person on the front so it shows it's the one. And some years I need to put a line on the floor, this year I had the line on floor that you can't go past that line because there's one person having some time in there to themselves. And it's got cushions, it's got a little, it's got a mesh curtain on the front so you can, we can see that someone's in there. Some years it becomes black, the children the last two weeks have been grabbing the blanket from inside and putting it on the outside, so it's really dark in there. So we always have that, I also have another sort of a retreat space. It's I don't know if anyone's heard of sand tray therapy. We have a, it's a constant and it's a sand tray, it's in a blue, painted blue wooden box. It has a variety of characters and materials that you can use in it. And I add to this across the year, I start with some basics then you never take anything away you only add. And it's surrounded by, again, a sort of a sparkly blue curtain that you can see through, it's a space. Sometimes for one this year, it's been for two from the start of the year again it's got a two picture on it and it's positioned so the children have their back to the room and they go in there and they can play in any way they want.


So really a safe space.




A space that you can see, you know, you can take them safe but a space where they can retreat away from other children and presumably you've set that up and taught children quite clearly, an adult led way about what it's for and why go in there.


That's right. So some children go there are suggested to go there, some children go here on their own. So it's an open way to use that resource but it's a constant, it's always there. And another thing that's constant in my room is I always have some sensory material of some sort, I try and have a tub of something that flows. At the moment it's just become either large gigantos red tub filled with rice, it's got glitter, it's got little stars in it, lots of pouring filling containers, it's actually positioned below the front window, so they can actually watch their parents coming and going from the window. So if they are having a separation problem, it's a really nice place for them just to be in that way with that flowing material while they're watching their mum or dad.


Why the flowing material Sally? What's the thing about the flowingness, the water, the?


It's a soothing relaxing sensory material. So we've had rice, we've had wet sand, we've had dry sand, we've had slime, but I always have something that flows in the room always have available water outside too. But seasonally sometimes it's a bit cold to have water inside.


Like today.


Like today.


So that. Would you still have those sensory experiences out for children even if it's a cold day?


Oh yeah, all the time.


Yeah and usually we have clay or Play-Doh available at some point during the day. Most times I have that occasionally I don't, but mostly I have one or the other.


Of course you do. Okay and one more for us?


One other thing really important is catch them being good, that's my catch phrase. And reminding the staff all the time and when I have these parent conversations too, don't forget to tell them what they are doing well, we are very good at the things that they're not doing well and you can do this. And it's great to see that, I've got a couple of little girls who've been having some really difficult friendship times that was like, love, hate relationships. And we've been reminding ourselves to say, hey so-and-so, I can see that you're playing really well with so-and-so that's great to see, I'm going to make sure your mum knows about that too, because that was great to see that it makes us feel good, it makes you feel good.


Yeah and it takes that consistency idea really strongly into the space too to say let's be consistent with that and let's everybody work in that space to ensure that we're giving those consistent messages. Thank you very much Sally, I'm conscious of time. So let's go to you Teigan, Teigan some practical strategies. And I've got a question in here about an inclusion plan and a behaviour plan. And maybe you can help us just out with, you know, when things, some practical things about developing plans, can you give us a sense of some of those practical strategies?


Yeah I think the, in terms of developing any type of plan there, looking at the why things are occurring is really important because I find one of the things that's often missing from plans, whether it's written by an educator or a therapist, kind of a universal missing thing is what is the replacement behaviour or skills that a child would benefit from. So if it's rushing to the front of the line, we want, might want to teach them to wait. And so we often think around what do we want them to, scaffold them to calm? But that replacement behaviour is often missing.


So what else needs to happen? Not just where were to stop, what we want to help children to learn.


I might take that proactive approach and I love Sally when you were talking around proactively teaching children to use those spaces because that's teaching them how to regulate their body and calm their body and all those physiological things. And then once the body's calm, that behaviour was occurring for a reason, whether it was to escape something or to gain something, so what can they do instead? What's that missing link for them. So I think inclusion and behaviour plans, the terms are often used interchangeably. I think a good behaviour plan will have that, what else to do. A good inclusion plan is going to look at how to support the child to meaningfully participate in daily life. And that's what the behaviour plan is going to help them do as well.


And I guess also we're going to, we want to point people in the direction of some of the other resources that are available on the Department of Education and Training's Website. So we've got, there's KIS funding. People know about some of those things already and we'll put some of those links into the chat function too. So and there's some suggestions on the screen here, preschool field officers, we want to encourage our colleagues to connect with that. And of course, a whole range of modules that are online as well that are freely available for people to have a look at in more detail. So could gives some guidance in that space. So thank you for reminding us about those sorts of things Teigan. Teigan if you've got any other just another quick tip for people to practically implement.


Yeah, look one of my pet hates is teaching children to take big breaths because we often do it, not great.




So it can be done really, really, really well. And I've seen it come up in the chat a few times, so kind of to want to put my hat on and say often when we ask children to take big breaths we say, let me show you there you go So that actually mimics the physiological reaction of hyperventilating and that anxious kind of yellow zone, heart beating fast promotes that heart rate to actually increase rather than decrease. So when we're teaching children proactively to take deep breaths when they're calm, so they can do it when they're feeling fine and calm


Okay good tip there.


Down low and whether it's putting stuff down and putting something on their belly and having a belly up and down or even putting their hands on their stomach and pulling forward and feeling it fall into their stomach. But also keeping in mind with that, that children who have experienced a lot of trauma in particular or quite a challenging upbringing, will naturally have a higher heart rate because they live in that fight or flight zone. So something like deep breathing might actually be more dis-regulating for them because it's not their comfort zone.


And again you're reminding us I think there to, make sure you access the resources and materials that are there in specialist spaces like trauma informed practice. We know that there's lots of options for people to do that have conversations with your preschool field officer, have conversations with your inclusion support professionals that you might be engaging with using school readiness funding etc, that that will help you to navigate some of that space. But I guess if, when in doubt, we want to have conversations with people like you Teigan to say what do we need to do, is this the right strategy? And I love the idea of maybe teaching children, some of that deep breathing when everything is fine and calm so that they can use it in some of those other circumstances. I'm really conscious of time and I know we want to keep people just at the exactly the right hour that we've got. So Leanne can you take us quickly into a couple of key suggestions from you, very practical before we conclude?


We use puppets a lot.




I think that's really important to have them available, it's works really well for us. A range of different types, finger puppets, hand puppets, marionettes etc for children in their own play, but we as educators use puppets a lot at group time. So if there has been some things that have been challenging let's say in the block space, it could be anywhere. And we want to have a conversation with that, with the group we bring the problem back to the group and we don't talk about people's names, we obviously don't identify people, but we do have two resident puppets, a dog and a crow another story for another day about why that is. But the dog and the crow have names, they've got personalities, they're part of the group. So we named them when we're talking about who's here today like, they really belong. And so the problem in the blocks becomes a problem between the two puppets and then we say to the children this happened with this one, this happened with this, what could they do tomorrow? What else could Squeaky have said to Claude? You know and so it depersonalises it. And if you glance to the children that we know did actually have the problem in the blocks. They are so in tune, they are watching closely and there's no need to say who it is, we would never ethically nor respectfully ever do that. But we, they know.


They know. So puppets are really helpful for us and I guess sometimes we find another tip for us is that why sometimes, I guess we call it we loan children language until we feel that they've got an ability to develop that and use that in their own way. And so for some children saying to somebody else, I was really disappointed that you didn't mind my scooter, you said you were going to. That's hard, that's a really a hard thing.


It's a hard thing.


Even though that is what happened and that probably is what they're feeling. So we feel it's okay for us, we talk about loaning children words or loaning children phrases or.


Rather than expecting them to say it.


Some can and then, but for those that either emotionally in that moment they can't, or they just developmentally for their language skills yet haven't reached that space. And then at some point you think hmm, that's a long time since I loaned that child language like they're onto it.


I think they've got the ladder is being formed for them, they are doing some of that climbing themselves because you've scaffolded and supported children to be able to get to that top deck. I'm really conscious of time, Sally are you going to add one thing before we finish?


What would you like me to add?


Well no it's all right, I just thought you might have a, you were thinking of saying something extra thing but we really right on the end of our session today and I'm really conscious of people needing to get away and do other things in their lives, so can I thank you all for your participation today. I think our colleagues online here really have valued hearing the practical ways that you think about this. I really recognise the deep thinking that all of you have brought to this. You know, it really reminds us how important that thinking process is as we start to make the curriculum decisions that we make on a daily basis, how are we going to use the puppets? What are we going to do when we set up a space for children to retreat to? So I really appreciate your sharing with us those ideas. I know that there's many educators online who've got their ideas and tips themselves and some of them have shared those already, so thank you very much for doing that. We will weave some of those into the conversations we'll have with Cathrine Nielsen-Hewett next time and we'll also pick that up again on our next panel. So thank you very much everybody for being a part of it, thank you very much for our panelists for being a part of our conversation. Thank you very much everyone and good evening.

Webinar 3

This session explores the role of the learning environment and strategies that professionals can use to support the development of self-regulation in children. Catharine Hydon and Cathrine Nielsen-Hewitt discuss the 'window of tolerance', responding to individual children, and examples of learning experiences that can promote self-regulation. 


Webinar 3 - Transcript

Good afternoon everybody and welcome. Fantastic to see you all here at the third webinar in our series, Guiding Children's Behaviour: regulation, respect and relationships, brought to you by the Department of Education and Training in partnership with Early Childhood Australia. My name is Catharine Hydon and I'm your host for this event today. Before we get going let's take a moment to pause and acknowledge the traditional owners on whose country we're all on. I know we're all on the lands of the Kulin Nation and we particularly pay our respects to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander elders who every day support us to think about what it means to engage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, to learn about their culture and to connect with other children and of course non-Indigenous children to understand what it means to play and learn on Aboriginal land. We also acknowledge the words of Marrung, the Department of Education and Trainings Education Plan and the words particularly of Aunty Geraldine Atkinson who reminds us to hold the door wide open in the work that we do every day so we can support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children's access and participation in early childhood programs. So continue to find work you do in that area and stretch and grow in that space as well. Thank you so much everybody for joining us, we understand that this is still a very fluid time, lots of things going on. We understand that you would have got some recent correspondence from the Department of Education and Training just in the last little while. So I'm sure that some of you are navigating the expectations of those changing spaces. But we know that you're really good at it because you've been doing it for a long time now. So thank you so much for all of that work. And thank you for taking the time to think about what it means to engage with behavior and how you might support children and continue to support them in their self-regulation. So I'm pleased also to be hosting the next webinar series which we'll have an opportunity for a panel discussion. So look out for that. We heard last week, you remember that, we had heard some great conversations from Sally and Leanne who shared some ideas with us about their practice experiences. And Teigan also shared some particular insights about her clinical background and some of the ways that we can weave some of those ideas into our practice decisions. So lots of different opportunities there. Now, before I welcome Cathrine Nielsen-Hewitt to rejoin us a second time, we can dive into some of the content. And I know some of you have been thinking and talking to each other using that reflective practice opportunity, that's a practice principle in the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework to think and talk with your colleagues and I think we're going to revisit some of those ideas today too. So it's my absolute pleasure now to invite Catherine Nielsen-Hewitt back to share some more insights. Now, of course, those of you who were here with us on the first webinar will remember that I introduced Cathrine Nielsen-Hewitt as lecturer and researcher in child development with over 25 years experience in this space, exploring child development. And she's currently the Director of the Early Years and Director of Pedagogical Leadership at Early Start at the University of Wollongong. And she's delivered lots of workshops and insights into child development. Worked with lots of different organisations and she's going to share with us some more details about self-regulation and childhood socialisation and exploring some of the ways that we can support children and help them and guide them in their behaviour. So, hello, Cathrine. Before I get you to kick us off I just should remind everybody that you and I will be in a little bit of a conversation. You're going to share some big ideas and from time to time I'm going suggest how that might look in practice, make some links between some of the things that our practitioner colleagues who are joining us today daily encounter, but also the ways in which it connects with the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework. Great to have you back Cathrine, over to you.


Thanks so much, Catharine. And it's wonderful to be back as well. I'm really, really excited. And before I begin I too would just like to acknowledge, I'm here at the University of Wollongong. So I too would just like to acknowledge the traditional owners on the land in which I am sitting which is the Wadi Wadi people of the Dharawal Nation. And I'd like to pay my respects to elders past, present and emerging. I'm really excited to be able to continue this journey. And in the first webinar we really took you through the why and so we really thought about what is the why behind children's behavior and together we examined the significant role that relationships play, respecting regulation. And we also really took a kind of a deep dive into some of those common routes to those big behaviours that we often see within the early childhood education and care context. And today I kind of want to shift gears a little bit and really kind of do a deeper dive into our responses and how our responses kind of shape children's behavior, but more importantly, how our responses also empower children to be capable and confident within their learning environment. So we're really going to explore the significance of respectful and responsive environments. And we're also going to consider our own role in terms of how we support children in terms of their self-regulatory skills. But I do before I kind of explore this a little more deeply with you Catharine. I really want to acknowledge the great session of last week and I really want to thank the panel again for sharing their invaluable insights and really exploring some really important examples and practical examples. And I really hope to draw on these more as we're going through this process and kind of continue to further our journey and to really how do we effectively support and guide children's behavior. But before we start, I thought, I'd just like us to kind of reflect for a moment. And I'd like to invite you to share your ideas around this in the chat if you feel comfortable or like Catharine said, if you'd kind of prefer to turn your chat off, that's okay as well. But I'm really interested in getting you to kind of think for a moment or reflect on what are some of the strategies you currently use to support children's regulation and perhaps consider how these are integrated within your broader approach to learning and teaching. So we can ask ourselves the question, how have we developed high expectations for every child that we work with? How would we develop on our partnerships with professionals, like the work that you talked about with Leanne and Sally and Teigan around those connections across between early childhood educators and other allied health. So how have we fostered those relationships and importantly how have we fostered really strong and responsive and reciprocal relationships with families so that we can support children's regulation and how have we included this and integrated within our teaching and learning methods. And so I really want to invite you to kind of share that throughout our webinar today and in very much like Catharine shared with you a wonderful kind of word cloud in our webinar two, we really want to hear your voices and we'd like to feed that back to you.

And we'll pick up that again in webinar four, we'll really draw on what people are saying. One thing that reminds me of too is Cathrine is that we're not suggesting here that we throw out old ideas, but we revisit them and think deeply about them and hearing them from your colleagues in the panel and in the chat, talking with your colleagues in your own site too, just reminds you of how powerful some of those strategies are and how we might connect them with contemporary research or revisit them and rethink about them. And I think that's where you're going to help us to think very practically about strategies which is going to be really helpful for people I think.  

And that's so important Catharine, it's about celebrating what we do well and building on that. And that's really what we want to see how this fits within your current structures. So I'd really like to just kick off today, is thinking about our focus on responses, but I want us to first reflect upon aspects of our environment that seem to be particularly important in supporting children's behaviours. And then I'm going to move on to some specific skills that we'd like to focus on to kind of really set children up for success. And I guess Cathrine, when I'm thinking about responsive learning environments, we're really talking about environments that prioritise both relational and intentional pedagogy. So when we're setting children up for success in terms of their behaviour and learning we're looking at environments where we really achieve a strong balance between child initiated and I know, adult extended experiences, but also adult initiated and planned learning experiences. So in these environments we don't only see the intentional pedagogue but we also see the creation of space for the intentional learner. So children are really supported with the educators within these services that kind of foster these environments. They're present, they're purposeful, they're deliberate, they're planned for and they scaffold children's learning and engagement and they do that through encouragement rather than praise. We model, we question, we challenge and we support children through our assessment and our planning. And we actively support children to collaborate, to persevere, to concentrate, to problem solve and we encourage memory and attention and empathy and reflection. And these environments also really prioritise the importance of sustained shared thinking and opportunities for children to engage in problem solving. And I noticed in webinar two, Catharine that you touched a little bit around grouping. And when we're thinking about sustained shared thinking and when we're thinking about creating platforms or environments that foster children's self-regulation, grouping matters. So very rarely do we see that children are able to engage in deep in problem solving and sustained shared thinking in large group settings and assignments when they're really acquiring self-regulatory. So when we're moving from that other to core to self-regulation, we want to create opportunities where children engage in small group. So we're talking about groups of four and five children. So grouping matters, the length of a group experience matters and also the makeup of that group. So which children are in that group and how we support that. So it's really that deliberate and very intentional process. We also know that supportive and responsive environments are those that create opportunities for children to explore, to experiment and to make choices. Choice is such an important component of children's self-regulation and behaviour. And when we're looking at this, it's underpinned by assessment because when we look at children and some children find it really difficult or might be overwhelmed by choice. And so in those instances, we provide what I would say is limited choice. So as a parent, we might say, we give children a choice out of two, two outfits to wear that day rather than go and pick something from the wardrobe. So it's really around responding to the developmental capacities of the children that we're supporting and responding accordingly. We also know that these are environments that kind of reflect the cultural diversity of the children and the families and the communities in which we're embedded with and we challenge stereotypes and we do that through really rich play-based experiences. So we might ask children what they want to play, what materials that's like and with who, excuse me, and with whom and we really scaffold and support. I do want to say that none of this exists in the absence of high quality and responsive relationships and that is critical, that relational pedagogy piece. But I'm also talking about relationships amongst staff as well as the quality of the relationships between children and staff and it's creating that kind of responsive. And Sally really talked about that in webinar two, the significance of responsive, secure relationships within the early childhood education and care setting. And we know it is through these meaningful interactions and experiences that are purposeful and they're enjoyable, that children become increasingly able to really manage the demands of their environments. And so that piece that kind of the intentional and relational pieces is so critical and it's reflective of high-quality practice as a whole.  

Indeed, I think Cathrine too that, you're really pointing us in the direction of utilising all of our commitments to the practice principles in the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework in an interconnected way. There's not just one thing you're doing there's multiple things. And by saying we have high expectations for children and then we think about the integrated teaching and learning approaches we build on relationships, it comes across to me, the way you're talking there is that the practitioner is drawing on many facets in order to make a decision about what they will do. It's not just one thing, it is multiple parts, which of course is why you need reflective practice processes.

That's right.

To think through what you will do. It can be in the absence of some of those big ideas and that underpinning theory.

And it takes a skilled pedagogue to be all able to differentiate the environment that responds to the individual needs of children. And that's so important when we're talking about learning and development as a whole, but particularly important when we're talking about children's behaviours. And it's knowing when to step in and to scaffold for children, but also knowing when to challenge children and extend their learning and engagement.

And we can learn how to do that, can't we Catherine? In opportunities like this when we're joining together with our colleagues learning new skills, you don't have to know about all of this instantaneously. You learn it over time. You become a skilled pedagogue over time and in collaboration with your colleagues which is one of the reasons we're here today.

Absolutely, it's a journey and I think that was captured very much by what Leanne talked about. This is an ongoing commitment that we need to make. And she really highlighted the very significant role that early childhood educators play in children's life and children's learning trajectories, we see this plays out very much in terms of the behavioural domain as well. And like I said, it's really around supporting children's emotional awareness, so helping them to label. Leanne talked about using puppets, it's around understanding our own emotions but also understanding others. And one thing that I really want to highlight here is this notion of predictability. And I think in the current context, I think this is very salient, that we know children who struggle with their emotional regulation benefit greatly from predictability. They take great comfort Catharine from the familiar. So it's around having very clear expectations for children within those environments and ensuring that those expectations are clearly communicated. And like you said, none of this occurs in the absence of critical reflection and it underpins everything that we do. Sally, kind of talked about how she observes the triggers of children, how she looks at the room, she looks at the schedules of what's happening. She talks to families, she talks to professionals. She tries out different strategies that she's tried out with different children and all of that is underpinned by that active, critical reflection. And like you said it's very much captured within the practice principles of the Victorian Early Years Learning Development Framework. This is really capturing good practice, regardless of whether we're talking about children's literacy and language experiences on numeracy or behaviour. It's a description of an effective learning environment for children. So what I'd like is to kind of move on and this is the Venn diagram that I introduced in webinar one. And I really want us to focus on the child's skills now about what can we do. So we've set up our environment. We know what the sensitive and responsive environments look like. Now, what skills should I be focusing on? And if we are going to empower children, then we really need to reflect very deeply on the sorts of skills that they need in order to navigate the complexity of our social environments. So I want to talk a little bit about that and of course, we're going to revisit the ship metaphor Catharine. And like you said, it's really resonated with a lot of people.

Very powerful analogy.

And so I want us to think a little bit about this and a lot of the strategies we're going to look at together first assume children are on the deck. So where they're in their thinking brain and a lot of what we do kind of assumes that children can kind of reflect on what we're sharing. I will, after we talk about this, Catharine, I do want to then think about when children are not on the deck and how do we get them on the deck, but let's think a little bit first around how do we teach these skills once they're on the deck and they're thinking, how do we teach them the types of self-regulatory skills that are important, that sets them up for success in terms of navigating their environments. And you remember in webinar one that I really got us to think about what is self-regulation. And when we're thinking about how we support children what we really need to reflect on is what are the skills that we're trying to foster. How are we supporting children's learning and development and you know that, we remember that self-regulation, has both a behavioural and emotional component as well as a cognitive component. So when we're thinking about the skills that we're trying to encourage we're talking about children's ability to kind of control their behaviours, to resist distractions, to recognise their own feelings and emotions but also to be aware of others. And then it's really kind of negotiating that behaviour and social environment. Being able to take turns, having an understanding of other people's views and perspectives, but also managing our frustrations when things don't go according to plan. And then the cognitive part is really around children's ability to plan, to organise, to remember, to multitask, to problem solve. I mean, this is tricky for adults, right?

I was going to say, yes, it's a lot going on there, isn't there? 

And so it's how we kind of scaffold those emerging skills and support children but it's also around that cognitive flexibility. So children having the understanding that there's inside voices and there's outside voices and we shift our behaviours and our thoughts and our ideas in response to different situational demands. So I think I really want us to think about, what are the skills that we're trying to support and how are we going to foster these behaviours. And I want to just touch on a comment from Leanne because I thought it was very meaningful where she talked about that notion, Catharine about managing behaviours. And this was kind of the lens that was presented when she studied at university to be a teacher and I think that's really important because our approach to guiding children's behaviour is really underpinned by a view of children as capable and competent and intentional learners. 

High expectations.  

Having high expectations. So what we are actually doing is guiding and empowering children. So if we know the skills that we want to foster that then underpins the decisions that we make around the kinds of practices that we foster and support with children. 

And then the types of experiences that we offer to. You go back to your comment about group sizes and how many children you can see that some of these skills that you're talking about will be more readily practised by children, practise with an S, practised by children when they have places and spaces that are conducive to those practising of those skills. Whereas if you've got a group of a lot of children altogether for a period of time you can see that some of these things are quite challenging.

That's right. And I think, I also just want to make the comment around the learning context and a lot of this learning is incidental. So it arises naturally during play and other kind of everyday experiences, but many of these skills also depend on intentional and planned experiences and we really need a balance. And it kind of reminds me of that triple helix model.  

Page 15 of the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development, very powerful, and it's a great way of thinking about it, isn't it? 

-And that's the lens I want us all to wear, that there are some experiences that we can really, that they're initiated by children. There are other experiences that are initiated and extended by the intentional pedagogue, but there are moments when we actually have to have very planned experiences, but they're still the present. It's not like this adult directed explicit instruction but we're still creating room for the intentional learner within these contexts. 

And helpful to remind people to go back and use that triple helix image on page 15. So just in case you haven't got there yet, go back and have a look at it and use it in reflective practise because that will actually help you to analyze where you're at up to now and then incorporate some of the ideas that we're hearing here from Catherine. I think it's a very important tool to think through your decisions as you're supporting children's and guiding children's behaviour and their self-regulation.  

For me it's such a valuable and powerful framework. And so if we think about within those prior to school years children need adults who support them to be able to reflect on their experience that provide them opportunities to talk about what they're doing and why, but also to help them to consider the next steps. And when things go wrong, we also need to help children to unpack and to consider the potential solutions for next time. So on this slide, Catharine, I wanted to include some examples of possible learning experiences, and these are certainly potentially more planned experiences. So we're seeing on that kind of continuum of adult planning, these are probably more adult initiated experiences. 

They coincide with what people are putting in the chat too. 'Cause actually some of these are exactly what people are sharing as strategies that work. So you might be infused agreement with lots of people who are chatting on that. 

Can I say, I love attending a professional learning that's reaffirming of what I'm doing. And so what's kind of common around these experiences is they all really foster and allow opportunities for practice of skills that are important for self-regulation. So for instance, the treasure hunt is a wonderful treasure hunt experience that I've done with an educator at a preschool down here in Kiama, where the children had a treasure box. And then I went outside and they had to draw a map of their outdoor environment. And then each of them took turns deciding where they would hide the treasure box and then they had to give clues to the rest of the groups, so the rest of group had to close their eyes Catharine, they went to look where it was hidden, they came back, the person who was hiding it couldn't open the treasure box, they didn't know what was in there and so there was all this anticipation. So these kinds of games and including the movement and song games where children have to move to specific rhythms or synchronize words to music or musical statues where they have to stop when the music stops and that's when the music plays, they all require children to pay attention. They require children to remember, they require children to inhibit impulses their behaviours, children have to follow rules and instruction. They need to take turns and sometimes they need to persist in the face of challenge. And all of these skills are skills that are essential and necessary for children's self-regulation. And when it comes to young children's learning and particularly around self-regulation dosage matters. So if we think about self-regulation as being a muscle and we're building muscles, we need lots of practice. We need to go to. 

It's not enough to go to the gym once a month. 

We need to go to that gym at least three times a week. 

Educators might start here and think, actually I need to plan. So using your assessment for learning practises you might want to start to plan when these happen, in a really meaningful way. We go back to that triple helix thing. So there is an opportunity for educators to make decisions about how can I practice these skills. So know that you're planning for them. If it helps put a section in your plan to make sure that you remind yourself to do that on a regular basis and of course, it's something that Sally reminded us, make sure your team know why you're doing it. 

That's right, and can I say, I think for me, the most important thing to recognise is, this doesn't require a whole new curriculum approach or a whole new idea. These are activities and experiences that are already happening within our services. And we just might be doing ourselves regulatory lens, but we're still keeping on our language and numeracy lens and our numeracy experience lens. And so it's really around thinking about the multiple opportunities that these experiences afford us as educators to really support children in terms of their development- And highly enjoyable for children too. The way you talk about the treasure hunt and music and movement and all of these amazing opportunities that some of it you've put on here and also some of which are in the chat. Thank you very much everybody for putting your great practise ideas, we know that are deeply engaging with children. So you won't have to cajole children to be a participant member of a treasure hunt who's not up for that. And in the same time you know that you are being intentional and deliberate in those thinking processes and your team can help support that as well as of course sharing some of these ideas with families of course, is something that you could also do as you promote some of that skill development. 

And this next slide shows that and this is really important because a lot of the way that we support children and engage with children depends on our understanding of children's abilities and capacities around their ability to kind of self-regulate. So this actually comes from some work that I've done with some colleagues, Steven Howard, Marc de Rosnay & Edward Melhuish, who is from Oxford and we've been doing a lot of work around assessments and really around the development of formative assessments to put in the hands of educators. So we have a deeper understanding of children's capacities. But this is a wonderful game that many of you would've played, when I was growing up it's like a memory matching game, Catharine, we used to call it concentration. 

So did we. I did too. 

I call it concentration and so the idea behind this game is that you put all the cards down and you've got to find matching pairs. And these children that you see on the screen are only three, so we did matching images. But when you get harder, it might be numbers. So we can use it as a wonderful numeracy activity but it's such a brilliant, and I used to play this with children and I then turned it into an assessment because it gave us such a window into children's capacities to self-regulate both in terms of their behaviour and emotional regulation but also their cognitive regulation. So here children first have to pay attention to the rules and they need to follow the rules. So you need to wait your turn, wait till it comes around to you. You've got to pay attention and look what's happening when the other children are having a go. Because if you don't see what they're turning over then you're not going to be able to turn over your pairs. You need to be planful, you need to be purposeful. Are you going to keep turning in some of these children do, keep turning over the same two cards every time it comes around to their turn or you kind of making decisions. Are you planning ahead? Are you problem solving? Are you flexible? So I've spotted two cards. I know they are a pair, I'm going to turn them over, but the person in front of me turns them over first, and they get them? How am I going to cope with the disappointment? Am I actually going to be able to regulate my emotions long enough to stay engaged in the game or am I going to leave the game? So how am I going to cope with disappointment? How am I going to cope with being a good winner? How am I going to cope with being a good loser and responding to those? So we can see there's lots of opportunities around these kinds of games that not only provide opportunities for practice for children in terms of their skills, but they give us a window into understanding where children's strengths are and where the potentialities are for growth and how we can support and foster an environment that kind of creates those opportunities for children. 

And lots of people are saying, yes, I play those games. We do those games, there's lots of different people agree that they are something that children really enjoy. And I think for some of you it's about making the connection between those things that children are really enjoying. It's a practice skill that you have and your team has and making sure that there's a connection to some of those things with self-regulation and guiding children's behaviour, I like the proactive nature of this, Catherine. I think it's about being on the front foot. I feel like some of the conversations we have around behaviour guidance is very reactive. Whereas this feels very proactive and I want to be supporting children before situations arise that are challenging. 

That's right and I think we said that in webinar one, Catharine, when we were talking, we said that often our call to action is children's behaviour. But if we can really step back and think about what those responsive environments look like it's no surprise that high quality early childhood education and care environments often have fewer behavioural challenges amongst children, because we've already created these rich and responsive environments for children to flourish. So we've been also doing some work and I have a source here if people would like to explore this further. We've been doing a lot of work here with some colleagues at the University of Wollongong about really doing a deep dive into children self-regulation and more importantly we're trying to think of activities and practises and pedagogies that kind of respond to the different behaviours that we want to foster and support with children. And some of these, we try to tap into everyday experiences that you see within the early childhood environment and then some of them are quite specific activities. So the top one that I talked about is called holding fast and this is something that parents can do. Like let's continue to think at that piece about how do we support children across the multiple contexts in which they operate. Holding fast is where we get children. We sit down at lunch and let's say, they're in a long day care environment, there's a cook. We bring their food out, the children are all served and we say to the children, no one is to start eating until everyone has their food on their plate. We're going to thank the cook. We're going to thank each other and then we're going to start. We've also done this in kindergarten environments where children bring their own lunch. And so again, or the children sit down they unwrap what they've brought and then we talk about what we have before anyone starts. So it's really about delayed gratification, right? So you don't need it straightaway. You can do that at home at the dinner table. Secret Shadow is a little bit different. So it's a little bit like the musical statues, but with a twist, so it's a little bit harder. The Secret Shadow is where we get children to actually close their eyes. Now, you might have some three-year-olds and that might be really tricky. So we might say to them, actually just turn your back on so you don't have to close your eyes. And we give them descriptions of what we're doing. We describe our body. So I might say to you, Catharine, close your eyes and while your eyes are closed, we're going to put our hand on our head, just one hand on our head and we put it there. Then we add to that complexity. So while our hands are on our head, we're going to put our finger on our nose. And we keep doing this watch children's eyes are closed, but again, it's really around attention. It's around language. It's about being able to close our eyes and keep them closed and not opening them and see if everyone's doing the right thing. When their eyes are open, it's around, have I done the right thing? Am I coping with disappointment? Have I got it right? So it's really around encouraging risk taking among children in terms of trying out these experiences. 

Cathrine, can I pause you there for a second and there's a couple of questions in here about, are we talking a particular age when children are able to manage these things or is there a magic age when it comes or is it and also managing disappointment? Is there a particular age or is it on a continuum? 

It is certainly on a continuum and it's a developmental continuum. So in webinar one, we talked about the idea that children move from other to co, to self-regulation and really from a developmental perspective, children don't have the skills necessary until about three years of age to start moving into that self-regulation. So a lot of these experiences and that's a really great question, it's around looking at children's capacities. And so you may know that there'll be some children who find that really difficult to do that. So we do something, we might just do musical statutes. So it's around really designing your learning experiences Catharine, that respond to the developmental capacities of the children that we're with, and this goes back to grouping. So if you've got a three-year-old, it'd be very difficult to do this with a group of 20 but much easier to do it with a group of three where you have the scaffolded approach and like any of these rich experiences, the value that comes from these experiences comes from the intentional pedagogue and how we support and how we scaffold children to take measured risks and to engage. But really, I mean, I guess the magic age is three, but some children if they experience high levels of stress, say then, they're going to be in that co-regulation phase for a lot longer and we might need to continue to support them at five and six. 

And we all need to go back to some of those fundamentals of our practice, picked up in the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework under the ideas around integrated teaching and learning but also assessment for learning where we make sure we collect really rich information about the experiences that we're offering when children are engaged in them. So if you are going to do something and a couple of people have said, yes, we do that. Waiting for our friends to be seated at lunchtime, we do a bit of waiting, if it doesn't work and you think, actually this is not going according to plan, it's not actually achieving my objective. We're not getting that skill development. Then it's time to come back into the reflective practice space with your colleagues and say, what also are we're going to do? What else have we got in our repertoire and perhaps we need to go back a step and make sure that we've developed some other fundamental skills before we do that next bit.

And we know that, so we know the children when it's time for transition to washing our hands from group time, that we know particular children that we probably don't want to leave until last, because they will find that really challenging. So we might pick that particular child, second or third, but in six weeks' time where there's been more practice we might be able to leave that child as seventh or eighth. So again, it's really kind of shifting our expectations and withdrawing our scaffolded support. But it's also around having high expectations but not setting children up for failure either at the same time. So I do want to talk about, so there's some of the experiences that certainly have a stronger adult initiated lens but I also want to talk about the importance of play for children's self-regulation. And we know play is probably one of our most powerful contexts for supporting children's learning and development and it's a central concept of integrated learning and teaching approaches within the Victorian Early Years Learning Development Framework. Play is particularly important in fostering children's self-regulatory skills. But again, when I talk about play I'm really wanting us to think about play-based learning and the difference between free play and play-based learning is the presence of the intentional pedagogue and how do we create a rich experience. So when we're talking about play that's important for self-regulation, I'm really talking about imaginative play or dramatic play. And it's significant for a number of reasons and again, thinking back to those skills that we want to foster in children, it involves planning. So are we planning, are we playing travel agencies, are we designing an airport, are we developing an ice cream shop, are we playing mums and dads? What do we need for that play? Who's going to be part of that play. And then we plan for explicit roles and rules. So Susie might be the mother. Jenny might be the father. David will be the baby. Catharine, you can be the dog. 

I was going to say, if there is going to be a dog, I'd like to be the dog. 

But if you're going to be the dog you don't get to stand up and walk around. You have to stay down on your foot. So there's rules and expectations in roles. And often imaginative play happens over an extended timeframe. So this is wonderful. I use the example of airport place 'cause I saw this rich play where children went from interesting things that fly. They did a whole thing in the experience around exploring cockpits. They made their own cockpit. Then I made the plane and then there was hostesses on the plane and there was food and this went over weeks of time. So it creates memory, it's persistence and engagement. And also we see that it kind of really deeper and expanded use of language. 

And slowing down the program, Cathrine, you slow down the program so that you can offer that and those people who are offering longer hours in their kindergarten programs will be testifying to the time that they can spend with children on really getting deep into play based experiences that really support children to develop other skills you're talking about. 

And when you become part of that co-construction and that's like that kind of scaffolded, co-regulation phase, you can really take that play very deeply, in terms of engaging children. And we can support children. Then there's times that play requires negotiation and understanding of other's emotions. Sometimes we need to prioritise others, especially when everyone wants to be the mum, like no one wants to be the visitor. And so educators really need to think about how we can support children, particularly for those children who may be more challenged with their self-regulatory abilities or they're younger and those skills are just emerging. And so for some children, they may need assistance in generating themes, they may need assistance in designing a plan or negotiating with their peers or resolving conflicts in the context of play. And it's not surprising that we often see children who might be challenged with their self-regulatory skills are often the ones who were pushed out of the play or they're always the visitor or often the play breaks down more easily and so we really, that's when we're stepping in and thinking about how do we support these children to be engaged? 

Cathrine there's a couple of people who've reminded us how important it is of the role of the educator and those people who are in lead educator roles, educational leadership roles. That's a really fantastic thing to support educators to make decisions about entering the play and what my role is when I enter the play, how am I going to support children and infact if you are aware of some of these skills that you're trying to develop in children then entering into the play becomes as we've said, intentional, purposeful, thoughtful, deliberate and we're picking up great opportunities there. 

I mean it really highlights the importance of being a good observer, because how often do we think that we've been invited into the play but we actually haven't and then the play gets shut down. The notion of planning and I'm going to continue with our boat thing, but this is a play boat theme. Now, Catharine this is, I just want to credit the beautiful children and educators at Warragamba Preschool who I have been doing some work with. But one of the key components of dramatic play is the opportunity that affords children to plan. And planning is really important for children's self-regulation because it helps them to focus their attention. It supports persistence and follow through but it also encourages choice and problem solving. So these boys wanted to do a boat play, but the educator rather than just providing the resources she actually invited the children to plan. So they decided what they needed. They needed a boat and a fishing rod, an eski, a speed go sign, they wanted some bait and they wanted a bar crusher so they spent an hour and a half planning. They sent a really kind of rich language and interactions and then the next day they resourced it. So here you can see the wonderful computer cause they decided that they needed a computer, 'cause to drive a boat you need a license. So it's really around getting them to think about like using their working memory, transferring their knowledge, what do they know about boats and really kind of supporting them in those experiences. And again, this happened within the context of rich numeracy and literacy experiences with a self-regulatory lens. 

And always out comes, oh my goodness, Cathrine, is just that the whole thing is full of outcomes. 

And then they played. And can I say, play really provides us with this wonderful platform and opportunity for supporting children to engage in conflict resolution. Because often we see conflict emerging in the context of play. I mean, one of the boys wanted to go to New York city. The other one wanted to go to Tokyo. They decided where they were actually going and then who was going to be the driver of the boat or the captain of the boat. And so there's lots of opportunities for really kind of negotiating it within the context of rich play-based experiences. So there's some of the ideas, but I do want to just touch on this idea going back to the boat in our brain. And many of the practices that I've just shared with us so far Catharine, really assume that children are in their thinking brain. So they're in a prefrontal cortex, they're on the deck. Many of the games and many of the strategies do not work when children are under high levels of stress. So when children are sitting in the hull we really need to think of different approaches. And for me, it's really around, when children are experiencing ongoing stress and significant stress, there's been a hijack. So there's been a mutiny and the captain is being dragged down to that hull and that's where we're sitting. So what I want to just finish today's webinar is really thinking about and drawing on some of the work that we really asked you or invited you to do is thinking about, if these are the skills that we really want to foster and these are some of the activities that we already do and how we can use play, but the effectiveness of these pedagogies and practices depend on children being on the deck. So let's think about then when children are sitting in the hull and that happens, and some children are sitting there more than others, then what do we do? How can we bring them back? And so in the first webinar we really invited you to conduct some deep observations and really observe some of the children in your service that experience big behaviours. And what we asked you to do is we really wanted you to think about when do they step outside their window. So when did they go down to the hull and are there patterns to this? Does it happen at a certain time of the day? Does it seem to happen when they arrive in the morning and so something's happened before they've got there. Are there particular precursors? Does it happen when particular children are there together or a particular space within the play environment. So it's really thinking about what happens and also what is it within our environment. So our ability, Catharine, to bring children up to the deck and help them to sit within that kind of window of tolerance or window of functionality really hinges on our ability to develop a deep understanding of what takes children outside that window, but importantly, what brings children back in. And how we respond to that really like hinges on developing that and I think both Leanne and Sally really spoke to the complexity of this and they really talked about that this takes time. And so this is a journey that many of you started on. Some of you may already get a sense of this for some children and for others this will be changing. But we know there are things that kind of push children out of that window or will bring them down to their deck and these are things like stress. So when children experience overwhelming stress, when they're unsure or they're insecure or they're fearful, it takes them down to the hull. If they're overstimulated within the environment, if there's too many demands placed and this is where we talk about the importance of assessment, understanding children's capacity, are we asking them something that's, good old Vygotsky's zone of proximal development, are we stretching them just outside what they can achieve or are we asking too much of them? So that question about when children are in is such an important question to ask ourselves as a collective when we're supporting children. I mean, our children, often will see children step out their window, like might have eaten that day or they might've done anything. Are they overtired, is it too noisy? It's not surprising that when we look at quality of our learning environments, often those that are just too noisy, kind of impacts children's learning. 

And Cathrine, I think your reminders there that some of the most simple things like thirst, is actually a really good place to start. I've seen practitioners just check in with children and say, do you think you need a glass of water? And to drink a glass of water and then do the next bit because actually re-hydrating yourself, get that water flowing through your brain is really helpful. It seems very simple but incredibly powerful. And for those of you who weren't with us for the first webinar, you can still do this actually. You could take the challenge that Cathrine's issued to you and go and do some deep observations of a particular part of the program, particular cohort of children, a child and see whether you can find out a bit more through that process and of course, bring it back into a reflective practice conversation with your colleagues where you can examine the planning cycle and what you might do about that. But I think these will definitely resonate with the people who are with us today. 

So I just want to add a couple more 'r's to our relationships and responsiveness and regulation. And these 'r's are really very specific to children who are sitting in a hull. And it draws on the work of Dr Bruce Perry, who really does a lot of work with children who have experienced significant traumas. I like to think about stress, like high levels of chronic stress. And when we're thinking about moving children into their windows, so once they're outside that window and they might be overshooting it or undershooting it as Dan Siegel talks about, we need to think about practices that are relevant. So they need to be matched to the needs of that child. So if they're kind of in the fight or flight or whether they're immobilised, they need to be repetitive and patterned. So they need to be consistent in the way that we support children. They need to be rewarding in the sense that they need to be pleasurable for their child and they need bring back a sense of security and stability and they also need to be rhythmic. And this notion of arrhythmic responses differs for each child and that's something I just want to say. That windows, our windows, just as our adult windows and I'm going to land on that at the end Catharine, but windows can fluctuate. And we know that adverse experiences and these are things like COVID can shrink our window. So for some children, their windows are shrunk and it doesn't take much to get outside that. It doesn't take much to fall back down to the hull. But we also know that emotional regulation abilities and those things that we're teaching children, not only empower children, but they can widen our windows of tolerance and make it more likely that we're going to stay on the deck in terms of engaging in our environments. But we need to know that our regulation strategies can change and they can fluctuate between children but within the child as well and there's different things. And Sally has really shared some wonderful experiences around bringing children to their window. She talked about those soothing and relaxing materials that she used. She talked about engaging children in things that flow and her retreat space. So that idea of really kind of shutting down that over stimulation and for some children, it is about mindfulness. It's around breathing. We get to them to do things like drink through a straw just to slow down. For some children a hug will bring them back in, but for other children the hug we'll take them out of that window because that hug is associated with something that's not a positive experience for them in terms of their memory. Some children respond to calming music kind of that rhythmical music, but other children need to jump on the trampoline. So they need that rhythm around. So it's really, again, it's unique to the child, it's knowing what takes them out but also knowing what brings them back in and how we support that emotional regulation.

And the more we know this about children, of course, and there are people who are chatting in our chat box are reminding us that, of course this is true for human beings, true for all children. So not just children with a particular diagnosis but all children who are trying to figure out what brings me back into, what takes me to the upper deck. And of course, if we can actually support children to know this about themselves, then they walk into the rest of their educational life equipped to know what works for them and to be able to articulate that and of course, how great is this for the support that we might offer to families as they are partners with us in supporting children to develop these skills. 

Just revisiting what Leanne had to say about the significant role that we play as early childhood educators. That we're creating this armour of success for children, we're building resilience, we're building resourcefulness and we're really developing capable and competent young people who can navigate the complexities that the social environment has to follow. I guess I just want to land back in that notion of relationships, we started that notion at the beginning in webinar one and it's around creating an emotional climate and creating a responsive environment that keeps children in that window. And that's built upon relationships of trust and respect. It's about being respectful of the child and the family and the culture. It's about having clear and consistent and clearly communicated routines, it's around having high expectations and seeing children as capable and competent. And of course this all sits within that context of safe and secure and responsive environments. So I just want to land on that notion of relationships because we know that young children experience, well, we all do really, we all experience our world as an environment of relationships and these relationships particularly with young children really affect all aspects of their development. And we know that relationships are critical in helping children to regulate stress and adult's emotional availability and our own empathic responses to children are really important in helping children to be able to self-regulate. And we know that children benefit the most from a caring community, and that's educators, it's family members, it's other professionals like Teigan who contribute to children's wellbeing. And I think that's what I want to land. I want to thank Leanne for being so honest and sharing that idea of her experience of sitting in the hull. And often we've all sat in the hull. And we can't make the kinds of decisions that children need when we're in the hull. We can't provide them with the level of support required. And so when we're thinking about children's self-regulation it requires strong adult self-regulation first and recognising our own triggers that take us outside our windows. The size of our windows I would say there was there's many wonderful educators who are online today in Victoria, whose windows shrunk significantly over the last period of time. And so I think one of the strengths of the early childhood education care environment is that we work in a team. And I think it's important to be kind to ourselves as educators and give ourselves time to pause, because children benefit the most when we look after ourselves as educators and adults. And I think I just like to finish it there, Catharine because I think that's something that's important. 

And it reminds me of the times that I've worked in amazing teams where it's sort of like we have borrowed a bit of somebody else's window and helped us to develop our own and broadened it. In fact, bizarrely I have met some educators in recent times who've developed stronger windows because they've worked in a collaborative environment where they've got a strong sense of collegiality and support and they have navigated these really fluid times. I think it's been a really interesting conversation and we've got lots of different ideas here. So just by way of reconnecting you to that really important idea that Cathrine shared with us right at the beginning which is coming back into that reflective practice space, taking the ideas that we've talked about today, which are multiple, which is one of the reasons why this is recorded so that you can go back and look at particular parts and perhaps play them to your colleagues and just say, can we have a conversation about some of these ideas, coming back into this space, re-examining what you know, drawing on the skills and strengths that you've actually had in practice over a long period of time. There's probably thousands of people sitting there going, actually hold on a second, card games are great. children love playing UNO. Where are these ideas and how can I connect some of the things that are really helpful? Some of the things that are perhaps in your storeroom that you'd never thought about in terms of self-regulation and bring them back into this space and rethink about them and make sure that those connections with your colleagues are really strong so that you can actually build that shared repertoire, that shared consistent practice. Cathrine, you look like you've got to add something there. 

I just wanted to add that idea of, I remembered that one of the big words in the word cloud was this notion of consistency. And I think that's the other thing that many of these practises can really be extended to the family environment. And I go back to that notion of dosage matters for children. So if we're seeing the repetition of these messages and their reinforcement for children I think that's really important. It also gives parents something tangible to work with and with the knowledge that many of these parents are probably experiencing significant stress themselves, so they're looking for a scaffold from us as educators to support them in that journey. 

So lots of opportunities there to share some of the things that work for you in your early childhood education and care setting with families in whatever platform you're doing that with. And I think it's also about building your confidence over time. So, thank you very much everybody for once again joining us and thank you for all of the methods that you've been doing in recent time to support children and families in their learning and engagement with early childhood education and care in Victoria. Thank you so much, Cathrine Nielsen-Hewitt for once again, sharing some fantastic ideas and thank you so much everybody and have a good evening.

Webinar 4

This final session in the Guiding Children's Behaviour series is a panel, hosted by Catharine Hydon. The panel discusses strategies that have worked in practice to support children's self-regulation, reflect on how to plan and implement experiences that support self-regulation, and how they work as a team to develop and use consistent behaviour guidance approaches. 


Webinar 4 - Transcript

 (upbeat music)  

Hello everybody, and welcome to the Guiding Children's Behaviour regulation respect and relationships webinar series brought to you by the Department of Education and Training in Victoria and in partnership with Early Childhood Australia. My name is Catharine Hydon and I'll be your host and the facilitator of our last webinar conversation together. Before we get started, I'd like to take a moment to acknowledge the traditional owners on whose country you are all on and I am on here today. We acknowledge particularly the lands of the Kulin nation across Victoria and particularly pay attention to the ways in which we assist children to connect with country and to understand Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of knowing and being in our early childhood education and care settings. Big shout out to any Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are here with us today. And an acknowledgement that of course teaching and learning has been taking place on these lands forever. And I draw your attention particularly to the Marrung Aboriginal Education statement made by the Education Department. And the words of Aunty Geraldine Atkinson that reminds us to hold the doors wide open as we welcome Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children into our programmes. It's fantastic to you've all made a time to be here. I understand that it's a very busy time. You are navigating the end of term two. I know how extraordinary that it wouldn't be at this time of the year already. I know that for lots of you you're still navigating many movable parts currently. So, thank you very much for making the time to be here. Hopefully you've taken some time to talk to your colleagues about some of the ideas that were covered in the first three webinars. And I know that lots of you have been talking to different people as we've progressed and already, you're sharing ideas and strategies and thoughts in the chat. So please keep doing those things and we'd love to hear your positive stories or things that you think are particularly great ideas that you've managed to retrieve from your own practise but also some of the ideas that we've covered in the webinar series so far. I know that for some of you the chat function can be a little bit distracting. So please feel free to turn that off and concentrate on our conversation today. We do want this to be a conversation. So, we want you to feel like you're part of a professional dialogue between us as we explore the ideas of self-regulation and guiding children's behaviour. So as of course you know this is our fourth and last online event in this series on guiding behaviour. We hope that you found the opportunities really insightful, and it's helped to reinforce the practises that you're already undertaking that you know are positive. Also, to think about new ideas. Today's session is a panel discussion another panel discussion but this time we're inviting Cathrine Neilsen-Hewett back to our panel discussion to have a bit more of a practise-oriented conversation. But also, Alexandra who will introduce in a moment has also joined us as an early childhood teacher who's practising these ideas on a daily basis to help explore what it looks like guiding children's behaviour and also supporting children's self-regulation. So, we're going to now do a quick recap of the three webinars that we've had so far, and Cathrine Neilsen-Hewett is going to just give us a bit of a sense of the big takeaway messages that we heard from those three webinars. We hope that for some of you this is a quick reminder of some of the big ideas that will support your ongoing thinking. So welcome back Cathrine fantastic that you're able to be here again with us today at the last webinar.   

Thanks Catharine I'm thrilled to be here and really excited to kind of reflect on some of those key messages and we covered a lot.  We did.  All right and so it's kind of it's really challenging really to think the take homes that before I begin Catharine, I do want to just pay my respects to the traditional owners on the land in which I'm sitting which is the Wadi Wadi people of the Dharawal nation and pay my respects to elders past present and emerging. And for me, if I think about probably the three main take-homes that I really want to leave with educators, I guess the first one is around how the webinars really supported our deeper understanding of the complexity of children's behaviour. And throughout the webinar series we've really adopted a lens that positions children's behaviour is communicative and contextual. So, in webinar one and we see here on the slide we introduced educators to our five Rs. And so, you see the first three. So, we explored the significance of responsive relationships and respect and that's respect in the context of relationships as well as the importance of respectful and responsive environments. And we also talked about children's own self-regulatory capacities. And we talked about the importance of viewing children as competent and capable and contributing to their own learning and the environment. And if we look at the next slide, we'll see that we added another two Rs. And so, we really took a deep dive into the why. And in doing this we explored the many and really varied routes to challenging behaviour as well as the developmental nature of stress and the significant impact. And I think this is very present and significant now around children's experiences of chronic and episodic stress and how that shapes their behaviour. And we also discussed the role of our responses and the need to really reflect and draw in a deeper understanding of the different pedagogies needed to support children's behaviour. But also, we really talked about the need to match or align these with children's needs and capacities. And of course, and it was very much captured in that word cloud that we talked about the importance of connections and the importance of consistency. And I guess for me the value of that five R lens really lies in how it underpins our approach to supporting children and families. So, we want to build children's capacity rather than control how they behave. And I think what I really want to highlight here is that these are not independent of one another. So, you can't focus on skill acquisition without ensuring our learning environments are responsive and structured so that children feel safe and secure and that they're willing to take risks. And we also need to be intentional in how we differentiate our support for children. And that really depends on us developing a deeper appreciation and understanding of each child why. And each why is different. And that's why we invited participants to conduct those deep observations of children in their services because this gives us the understanding well it contributes let's say contributes to our understanding of the why. So, our focus then it's no really, it's no longer on children how are they behaving or what are they doing? But it's more about asking the questions what happened to you? What are you trying to tell me? And how can I best support you? So that would be my first take-home. And I think if we look at the next slide, I think our next really big take-home and we know how much it really resonated with everyone


Deeper appreciation for the role of children's brains in shaping their learning and their behaviour. And this was really reinforced in this boat analogy. And I think it resonated with so many of us because it really helps us to understand why it is so difficult for us to engage children in learning when they're in a heightened emotional state when they're under stress. So, it really kind of helped us understand why they seem to act without regard for others or regard for their environment. And they're doing this simply because I just can't see they can't navigate the complexities of their social world when they're sitting in the hull. And the boat analogy not only helps us understand where children are at but for me it helps us to align our pedagogies and our practises with children's needs and emotional states. So, a number of the pedagogies that we examined in webinar three like the memory game and the musical statutes and the imaginative play-based pedagogies really build on the assumption that children are on the deck. And therefore, they're primed for learning and acquiring new skills and competencies. And for many children that is the case. But in webinar three we also touched on pedagogies that are really designed to respond to and support children when they're in the hull. And Sally talked to some of these in webinars two as well around those sensory experiences. So, if we draw on the boat analogy again Catharine these pedagogies are really our ladder. And then they are designed to bring children back into that state of functionality or back into their window of tolerance. And we know when we learned that the effectiveness of the pedagogies really depends on their developmental relevance to the child that we're supporting. Again, going back to those deep observations that we really asked people to engage in. We know that they need to be repetitive because we've learnt dosage matters. When it comes to supporting young children, we know that they need to be rewarding and make children feel good. And they also tap into the rhythmic needs of children. So, we included lots of ideas like playing with slime or sensory experiences or rhythmic work like dancing and jumping. But we also talked about calming experience and that's something we really need to build on and understand what works for what child and my last take home sorry is really around the significance of intentional pedagogue both in terms of what they teach how we teach but also our own wellbeing. So, for me these webinars have really put a spotlight on the integrated nature of teaching and learning and many approaches that we talked about will be familiar to educators and they align perfectly with the practise commitment deployed in the Development Framework and perhaps their experiences that educators have previously engaged with maybe they haven't donned their self-regulatory lens when we've engaged in those experiences. And I guess the other part of that intentional pedagogue is the emotional availability of that adult. So, Leanne and webinar two really on her own experiences and her own self-regulatory capacities and how they shaped the climate of the learning environment and planted in that moment of self-reflection at the end of webinar three and that focus on the emotional environment of the classroom. And we know emotions are contagious and that's among children in between staff. So, it means that children are sensitive to our emotions. So, at times of stress, we need to check in and we really need to look after ourselves first before we're positioned to really support children. So, they would be my take homes.

Well, that's fantastic. And I think that the boat analogies are a very powerful one I've had numerous conversations with people over the last little while who really understood behaviour in a different way. And just simply not being able to see what's going on around you because you're in your hull is a really good way of thinking about children as they navigate their daily experiences in their early childhood education and care settings. And of course, you can hear in what Cathrine is talking about here the deep connection between the practise principles in the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework and some of the ideas there's evidence-based ideas that Catharine's sharing with us. So, one of the things that you might want to do because of these conversations is go back into the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework and find where those ideas come to life. So that integrated teaching and learning opportunities the need for reflection. And we'll talk a little bit more about the use of reflective practise particularly the planning cycle to think a little bit about this when make a mixed panellists Alexandra but there are lots of different opportunities for you to connect those ideas with your existing practise but also stretch those ideas a bit further and go back into the document that key documents that inform our work for us the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework and see how there might be new opportunities and new possibilities. So, thank you so much Cathrine. I think it's been a fantastic way to really shed some more light in this space to help people feel a little bit more like they can manage some of the decisions they're making and think about how I can be responsive to the needs and best interests of the children that they're working with. So, one thing though has come up a couple of times and I'm interested in you talk about this. And then we might ask Alexandra our next panellist what her take is it because I understand she's been doing some talking to families today but what about our relationship with families? How do we pursue a conversation around behaviour guidance and self-regulation with families we know of course that the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework has a key component about the relationships we have with family's partnership we have with families? So maybe you can share a few thoughts about that but maybe before I do that, I should just say hello Alex very lovely that you're here.


Alex we're going to hear from Cathrine and then I'll introduce you. So, Cathrine what's you're thinking around the relationship that we have with families in this area?  Yeah, I mean this is such a challenging area because it is so emotionally charged. So, I think just going back to that planning cycle that you talked about Catharine I think any conversation that we have needs to be planned and it needs to be thoughtful. And so, I think there's a few things that kind of guide and I'm really interested in Alex's insights here. But I think from my perspective there's a few things that I think about when I'm talking to families. And first is the timing we really need to think about when we speak to them so often, we connect with parents and pickup time but for parents this might beat the end of a long and potentially today and these kinds of conversations because they are so emotionally charged can easily push parents into their own hull if they weren't already there. And more than that I think it also sets the tone for the conversations in the car ride home with children. And that car ride needs to be a time for reconnection and sharing and the richness of those relationships. So, I think the first things to think about the timing and when do we have those conversations with parents, and you will know your parents and what works for the different parents that you support. So, for some it may be at pickup time that is the best time because when they go home things are chaotic for others, they actually might need a little bit of warning and time. I think the other thing is to think about when we're discussing children's behaviour, we really need to focus on what we want to see rather than what we don't want to see. And so, we talk about the importance of adopting strengths-based approach when talking with children and I think same applies to families. And it's important that we don't put parents in a position where they feel that they must defend children's behaviour in any way. So, it's really thinking about how we can together create opportunities for children to develop the skills that we know will set them up for success. I guess the other thing is if we're talking about what they need then be ready with strategies that you can share with parents. So, let's say you're wanting to foster children's attentional and problem-solving capacities. Then we might talk to parents about the importance of giving children an opportunity to plan and make choices when they're at home. So, choosing what they're going to play choosing what they're going to wear if the child that you're supporting is having difficulty in terms of their behaviour inhibition then so they're not sharing they're not waiting the turn that we might suggest games that parents can play at home like musical statues or holding fast at dinner time. And so, for me that's around giving them the supports but also the importance of consistency across contexts and dosage. So, children like most kind of practise. I think we also need to remember the roots to behaviours, and we need to be really sensitive cause sometimes children's behaviours may reflect parents stress or parenting challenges. So, we need to ask ourselves how well positioned are parents to be able to support what children need. We need to ask our question ourselves what is happening for that child and support the parent to ask those questions and how can we then create a platform for success together. And I think finally I think it's important as educators to be aware of our own expertise and our own capacities and our own knowledge and this means knowing as a team when someone else might be better placed to support children. So, knowing what professional supports are available in your area the importance of those integrated service platforms is so important for supporting children. And that is why again we really invited you to conduct those deep observations because this will really strengthen the conversations that you have with professionals and provide allied health teams with the kind of contextual knowledge they need, and you have that as educators that they don't necessarily get in terms of watching children navigate the complexity. So, I guess there's some of the things that I would think about Catharine when engaging families.  

Fantastic.  Engaging families.  Thank you so much for that Cathrine. I think that is always a complex area. I think and people feel little bit nervous from time to time, but I love the idea of a planned approach. Speaking of people who might plan some of their approaches hello Alexandra and I'm going to call you Alex because I think that's what people do call you. So that's good. So, Alex it's a pleasure to introduce you and invite you to be part of our panel conversation today. And we know how powerful itis for our gathered audience to hear from practitioner's early childhood teachers like yourself. So, let me tell you a little bit about Alex before we get started. And I might ask Alex about some of the conversations that she might be having today in fact we families. So, Alex is from Echuca South Community Kindergarten in sunny Echuca maybe not so sunny but it's fantastic that you are able to join us from Regional Victoria. Alex is in his sixth year of teaching at the Echuca South Community Kindergarten which is an exceeding service it's fantastic so congratulations and while completing your degree at LaTrobe University. She went to Sweden and was part of an international exchange which if we have another day, we'd love to hear all about that but there we go that sounds fantastic. And you are clearly, and you've told us you're very strong believer in connecting to culture and connecting to families to deliver successful outcomes to children. And I understand that Alex you also did a placement at an Echuca South Community Kindergarten is that correct in your as you? Is that correct?  Yeah, there you go.  So, they obviously recognised a fantastic asset there and got you to comeback which is fantastic. So, Alex perhaps if you can share a couple of insights with us about some of the things that Cathrine said because I understand today you have been in fact talking to families and sharing the progress that children have been making. So, did behaviour guidance and self-regulation come up in your conversations today?  

It did many of times. And I just want to say thank you so much for having me and I feel a bit nervous following you Cathrine. (laughs)

Okay bring the lived experience Alex and I say that is the most significant narrative.  

Well, I've learnt so much and have definitely taken part and listened to the previous webinar videos and I have really learned so much and it sort of triggered some points that I'd really love to touch base with. I did I have had parent conversations all day today since this morning. And I still feel fresh believe it or not. So, look the parent conversations today are part of what we call learning review days. And they take place every term they've only probably been in place for the last three years, but they have been a major turning point in terms of relationships with families. So, it's really a moment that we can stop reflect and set some goals for their children and moving forward. A lot of the discussions I had today all of them in fact were positive. And one was around in particular self-regulation and this particular child I actually had the pleasure of teaching for two years now. So, it was an early start enrolment, and this is the child's second year. And it was a beautiful moment of aha. This child has just come so far. And I guess I'm in my sixth year of teaching so I'm still fresh and don't have all the answers. I don't know if what I'm doing is correct or I'm always going is that should I don't know. But today was probably a moment where I thought "Hey this child in particular has really come a long way." And the self-regulation for this child they're now doing on their own. And they weren't at the start when they first arrived for me. So just in terms of their progress and their self-regulation it's been a journey for the child and for me yeah.  And maybe Alex she can tell us a little bit more about what strategies you put in place for this child. So, there was obviously it wasn't through luck. It was probably through planning.

And so, were there some of the things that you can identify that you think were particularly helpful for this child and did you talk to the families about those sorts of things today?

Yeah definitely. So basically, when this child came to kindergarten, they had no resilience and not aware of how to self-regulate what if things would go wrong in play for this child. And they did not have any skill or knowledge of what to do with the feelings that they were experiencing. So, in terms for this child specifically we trialled a lot of things for them. We trialled giving them their own space which didn't work for this child. This child physically needed us to support the regulation.  And what do you mean by that? What did you have to do?  Well, whether it meant offering them a hug.  Yes.  The language that we used. So, I can see that you are not okay. I can say that you are really upset. So, in terms of yeah, the specific strategies it was either physical touch that would support them and obviously we're respectful in that in regards to the child Yes.  The language that we would use. So really talking them through and labelling the emotion that they were experiencing. And then obviously a quiet space. So, they were the strategies that we would use in place back then. And only the other day this child still has moments. I still have moments. I still need to self-regulate, this child had a moment stormed off and I looked at my coeducator and I said just wait. And I waited. And this child stood at the bathroom door and went (sighs) and walked back in.


So, the conversation with the mother or the family today was your child self-regulated and was able to bring their body back to themselves and move on. So that was a really bright moment for us today.  

And I think you've reminded us all to maybe share some success stories sometimes with families you know that, and I think Cathrine you mentioned this before. If our only conversations with families is when there's a problem or when there is something that you're not sure how to navigate that we might forget sometimes to say Hey look what I noticed today. And look at the skill that your child is demonstrating and look how well, and we could potentially use the boat analogy with families too. I think that's an interesting one. Look how well your child climbed that ladder and got themselves back into that space. Cathrine do you want to comment about some of those things I guess the nature of our conversation today is to bridge the theory to the practise?  

Absolutely I think Alex thank you so much for sharing. That's so generous. And I think what really rang true to me when I was thinking about that was your ability to provide effective support for that child really hinged on your understanding of what took him out sides window of tolerance, but you also learnt through trying different things and seeing how he responded what brought him back in. And I think that's once you were able to do that effectively and engage then you're actually able to respond in other ways. And give him the kind of skills that we know are important for him to actually like you said Cathrine climb that ladder on his own because that's what we're really focusing on is that ability to kind of support to engage. But I think the other thing that you talked about was his progression and I think that's important. And that was a question that someone asked in webinar three right Catharine? And really understanding children's developmental capacities and when they're ready to move from that other to code self-regulation and how we scaffold the way that we support children but also how we scaffold the environment to ensure that they experienced some success. And I think that that really highlights to me the importance of understanding children's needs having that differentiated approach that taps into children's developmental capacities but also those clear intentions. So, understanding what does that mean? What do emotions look like? What does self-regulation look like? So, for instance Alex when she gets a little bit upset she might stamp her foot sometimes Catharine she does that when she's little bit upset. So, it's about giving clear and concrete examples to children. So, they understand what behaviours look like and how they're tied to children's emotions and feelings.  

That's right. And I think that's important about you talk about me stamping my feet. I think I'm on a journey at the moment really reflective journey of me professionally. I feel like I'm in a mid-employment crisis, no I'm not. (laughs)

A reflection moment Alex. Where you're going, who am I and how can I progress?  

Yeah, and I think in terms of emotion I've always believed that you should leave your emotions at the door when you walk into work and we've done some reflective practise within our team about well we need to model to children behaviour, and we model language why don't we model emotions? So that's been a big thing and I've spoken to the children. And if I've had a horrible sleep, I can say I'm feeling really tired today. Or my heart is feeling really tired and that's okay because it's normal and it's human and we all feel it. So, we really believe about modelling emotional behaviour and emotions with children is super important.  

And Alex have you done sort of lots of thinking with your team about that I'd love you to share some of the processes and being really practical until it's exactly what you've done because I think there's a lot of people that are going so how do you do that? So, be really specific but with your team how have you brought them together to think about your strategies like that one like the way that you support your children in terms of self-regulation how do you bring team together?  

Oh, how do we well I work with a beautiful coeducator we're very I guess emotionally in tune with each other. I think I'm very lucky to have her and not everyone does but I think it's really important to be able to be honest with the team that you work with. I spend a lot of time with my work family rather than at home.  Yes.  So, they need to know how I'm feeling. And they've probably read me a bit better than some of my own family. I think just being honest about I guess how we are feeling and being honest about what we can bring to the team to the group emotionally. And I think when I talk about self-regulation and in the past I've had some real challenging moments in my teaching. And I think within your team it's actually really important that you're able to tag in and tag out and be able to say Hey I'm not coping, or I need a moment so I'm very lucky to have that relationship within my team, but I don't think it's something that just happens. I think it's something that continues to build.  And you must work on it.  You do you do.  And is that through meetings and talking to each other so you actually have time together it to reflect?  I think well in my position and with my coeducator we constantly reflect whether it's written verbal at the end of day on chat if we didn't get to catch up it's important to be able to have those moments and be able to communicate with your team. So yeah, no it's been a process and it's been a journey just like a kindergarten journey.   

Yes, and I guess it's a timely reminder to everybody to make time for those reflective conversations and to be consistent consistency came up very strongly. It's difficult to be consistent if you don't have time to talk to each other about being consistent. So, let's not make assumptions that Alex you know what I mean? So, make sure that we all talk together about this is what we mean when this situation occurs. This is what we're going to do. And as you say to be honest and upfront about that process. Cathrine can you talk a little bit about the way that educators work together in that collaborative space to try and make decisions around self-regulation and guiding children's behaviour?  

Teah, I think it's really around getting back to just what we talk about with children. It's about consistency clarity and clear expectations and empowering everyone to have a very clear voice. So, I think when we support educators and with the work that we're doing it's really around we do a lot about the why. And I think it's really important for educators to understand their role in the why of children's behaviour and how we contribute to that. And I think understanding and engaging deeply in the evidence base that sits around children's self-regulation and behaviour is so empowering in terms of the decisions that we make. But I think there's certainly importance for us to prioritise that and to have those rich discussions around what are some of the key priorities around self-regulation and children's behaviour but also making sure that we're on the same page. I think one of the biggest challenges that many educators have shared with me is around approaches to conflict resolution. So, I think a conflict within the early childhood environment is really challenging even conflict amongst staff I think their real challenges in terms of looking at the emotional climate. So little things like that about thinking about how we support conflict resolution with children in the service again it's about being consistent. So, whether we're using the High Scope's six steps to conflict resolution or whatever approach you do it's important to be consistent. And to share that with parents as well because consistency is not just about what's happening within the early childhood education environment but also what's happening across what's happening in the home context and the educational context. And I think Alex I was reading some of the comments as you were talking around emotion and it really resonated with so many people online and there's lots of different approaches and in the same way Catharine with our approach to conflict resolution and it doesn't matter as much what approach you take but that it's consistent for the system it's not confusing.  


And one of the key aspects around kind of supporting children around emotions is really around the difference between feeling emotions versus the way we express that. And I think it's important that children know that this is a safe place to feel big emotions. We're not suppressing the feeling of emotions. What we're doing is giving children's strategies to express the way they are feeling in a way that is supportive of other children in the environment.  And of course, children are learning how to do this it's a learning process. So, and this is one of the reasons why the reflection component of the Victorian Early Years Development Framework that asks us to plan effectively for behaviour guidance strategies for self-regulation strategies is so critical. So, Alex can you take us a little bit into your planning process? Do you collect observations about children's self-regulation and behaviour and how do you use those to make decisions? And so, tell us a little bit through your planning approaches.   

I guess something that and it's come up today with our parent conversations is we use a document that is an individualised planning document for each child. And what I love about the document is it has the voice of the child the voice of family and the voice of myself and my team. It also has the child's interests the child's goals of what we achieve and the parents' goals. So, this document is so well developed because it starts at the very start of their journey. 

So you do that right at beginning you have this conversation at the beginning.   

Yeah so, we have an interview day where they come in, we can talk about what to packing your lunch box and bag, but we can also talk about "Hey what are your goals for your child?" What is your child's goal? So, I think one of the child's goals today was to paint and to listen. And I was able to say your child has reached this goal. Your child's able to listen and your child's able to paint. But so, the conversations today were a big reflection on the goals I think one and moving forward we set some goals with the families today.   

So, in a six-month cycle almost.   

Yeah so, we will meet again next term. And that looks at children's transition to school and how it might look whether that child would benefit from additional transition with the school it's sort of individualised to each child. And I think in terms of planning this document is sort of capturing everything holistically. It's got the family's voice the child's voice and the educators voice in it. So, if any other services out there are looking to develop something like that it's an amazing way to incorporate and manage progress and Yeah track the distance travelled, I think is how we sometimes refer to there's a couple of people on the online and had an epiphany moment now saying what an amazing thing to do and how to capture all of that information. Particularly the goals of children. Would you say that some of the collection of information in those documents has been orientated towards self-regulation to family sometimes say I want my child to self-regulate or did I use different words?  

Yeah, you get some interesting ones that you question I want to stop them from having tanties or emotional management.  The parents bring some of those aspirations around their children's guiding their children's behaviour and what they would hope for their children's selfregulation to the conversation with you.  Yeah of course and it opens the discussion because you don't know these families and some, we do but they bring their paperwork their enrolment all about me. And then they come with this we call it an IEP an Individual Education Plan and it can be a daunting process. So, they would have had the time to fill it out prior to coming. And we are actually able to see emotional regulation well tell me more about that. What exactly is happening? or what is it that you want to work on? So, it just opens a discussion with it's a partnership and it happens right at the start.   

Yeah, and I guess you're also reminding us about the rigour of the process. And I think Cathrine you said this before the intentional pedagogue it's the intentional pedagogue who's really thinking through these processes not leaving it to chance not leaving it to a situation that might arise something else might happen about the intentional pedagogue Cathrine do you want to respond to that?  Yeah absolutely. If you may Alex what you're talking about really highlights to me the importance of assessment and how assessment under pins our effective support of children and family. And it's supports our ability to differentiate so much of what you've talked about is that individualised response to children and understanding their needs and just that empowerment of children as sharing their goals because then they become part of the assessment process themselves. And Catharine we talk about intentional pedagogue but really what we're trying to achieve is the intentional learner. And so, then children actually have a voice as part of that process and engaging the multiple voices as part of that approach to assessment is so important, but it also provides us insight into the different priorities that we have and an understanding of the contextual nature of children's behaviour. So, the fact that parent prioritised listening and yet you say Alex well they do listen then the question for me is then why is that such an important focus? Because perhaps they're not listening at home and what do you do within the educational setting that supports and scaffolds that child to listen. And then what kind of strategies can you share with that parent? So, it's such an important process and really understanding the complexities and how we can foster it because we know when children go to school they may be provided with different supports. So empowering parents to know what actually works to guide and support that child I think is really important and a commitment that we have to learning continuities.   

Absolutely and in the Victorian context of course our participants will know that the continuity of learning between the early years into the early years of school through the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework lens and those transition statements are such a powerful way to support children as they move to their next learning opportunity which is going to be the early years of school. It's such a really fantastic reminder. I think about the importance of the planning cycle and really using that to our advantage so that we can think through those things. I'm interested Alex to take us to another part of the planning cycle. And I guess this is also picking up another part of the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework with our integrated teaching and learning strategies. Can we talk about strategies particular strategies teaching strategies that you use in your programme? You might've used it yesterday. What sort of things work? We've heard from our previous panellists Sally and Leanne about things that work. Sally talked about having things that flow sand and water what stuff do you do that you think works?   

Gosh well actually just probably this term I think again sort of being reflecting on practise within my position, but I think something that I've noticed is reading children and reading the group. Just yesterday and it was raining from the moment children arrived at the moment children left.  Some of the hardest days those rainy days and windy days. Yeah, so what did you do?  Well, I had the group of three-year-olds. (yep) And it was hard because we were inside. I tried a game sort of like a body break. Okay I'm going to put some coloured dots out. We'll choose our favourite colour we'll do some jumping. It completely did not work. 


And I think from my perspective I thought well I could persist, and it be a complete flop, or I could just say let's stop and move on to something else let's do something else. So, I think for me I've been really reflecting on reading the group. The four-year-old group that I teach are busy as every kindergarten group is, I think but I feel like I've become really attuned with them and not packing up just because it's and we think morning meeting has to happen. I think if they're settled let's roll with that. They're engaged and sitting down for a story and noticing lots of wriggling. How you've meant to listen to a story if you're wriggly.  So really trying to be tuned with the group. And if it's not working don't persist there's no point in persisting with something you want to achieve. If the outcome isn't going to be what you wanted to be. Don't you know what I mean?  


Yeah absolutely. And I think there's probably a whole lot of people online going 'oh thank goodness' because what Alex you're saying that we don't have to be perfect and have the perfect plan. And it goes exactly according to plan you can change the way you do things. So, does that mean Alex that you've got to have ideas up your sleeve?  


Oh yeah. (laughs)


Give me tell us what did you do instead?


So, you were had that plan and then it didn't quite go what did you do instead.  Yesterday instead of our little game we actually washed our hands and I felt like we needed some food. I felt like our bodies weren't ready to listen. We need more energy and it either works or it doesn't. And I just think we're in such a really beautiful time of children's lives that we can be fun spontaneous but also staying within our routines and our structure. We can be fun and spontaneous and some things like that really just reengage and recapture children so yeah.  So, it's a very simple strategies and it actually it's I mean Cathrine you might like to respond to this if it sounds simple it sounds like okay that didn't work let's eat you know? So, you think well how is that sophisticated behaviour guidance technique? Like is that a sophisticated behaviour guidance technique? 

Well, it may well be though Alex here's the thing. So, we've got luckily, we have a professor so there we go Cathrine Neilsen-Hewitt you've got the evidence based instead of sophisticated behaviour guidance technique.   

I'm actually going to say it's an excellent example of Alexandra's self-regulatory capacities because really you talked about the perfect plan. And I think the perfect plan is the plan that is flexible and responsive to the needs of the children and the learning environment. And so, the fact that you have great self-regulation skills it means that you problem solve that you are able to be flexible in your ideas you can kind of look at different options and that more important than that that you actually are purposeful you're deliberate you know the children that you're supporting and you actually know what the content does for those children and how it responds and what your priorities are. And that's why we talk about those rich learning environments Catharine and Alex that are really around that child initiated adult extended. So that sense of contribution of both the child and the adult and really responding to that. So, I'm going to give you an A+ for self reg?   

There we go so, and this is probably some good reminders to us all is to rely on some of those very profound like okay time to eat bit of increasing our blood sugar levels and help us think of it better and the same with a glass of water it makes a big difference to our thinking capacity helps us get from our hull to our upper deck. So, some of those things seem simple but in fact tuning in as you rightly pointing out there tuning into children really reading that space, I guess you have to slow down a little bit in order to tune in and not be so determined to do it your way or the highway so to speak. So, Alexandra we we're coming up to the end of our conversation today time flies when you're engaged in a great conversation. Give us a couple of other ideas that work particularly. What else would you if you say for your example talking to a very beginning teacher, we've got some of those people online what sort of things would you suggest? Going outside doing what other sorts of things would you suggest work really well for children's selfregulation?   

I think well as a new teacher I think the best thing that you can do when you are starting out is networking.   


Engaging with anyone and everyone that you can because I have no answers, I have some I don't have all of them. And I just think I have learnt doing speaking observing. And I think that's some advice that I would give any educator is networking.   

Thank you. 

Call other centres call other kindergartens and reach out. In terms of strategies that I use. One thing I think is really important with children. And I guess when we talk about challenging behaviours you do have to put your... You have to keep yourself safe. And I know some teachers would work with some physical behaviours but getting down on children's level I think is really important especially just I think I don't like being spoken down to so I'm always quite conscious of where I position myself when speaking to children any other strategies, I just think trial and error don't be afraid to make mistakes. Something might not work but it might work the next time. So, try and try again.   

Have you tried some of those sorts of techniques that Cathrine talked about in the last couple of opportunities we've heard from her about teaching children particular selfregulation strategies are you a fan of games and card games and things like that are you using some of those ideas? 

We actually have in our reflective sessions with our team that we've been doing we've actually used a few sets the Bear cards which I really loved because the lady that we were doing the reflective practise with the card showed the full body of the bear. These cards are everywhere you get different animals. 


You spoke about the importance of the full body rather than just the face because when you're sad you sort of close off when you are angry you sort of clench up.   


So, she spoke about the importance of showing the full body and the body...  And that's been a helpful tool for you to support children particularly and helping them to understand their emotions.  Well yeah and just noting can see you are tense. I can see your body is really stiff looking about the physical emotions that the children are experiencing. I think it's a really really helpful tool.   

I think it also points using the direction of something that we talked about right at the beginning when we first introduced this series, I seem to have a fly right in front of me where we're talking about how important this is for all children. So not just for children who have big emotions and who might have particular diagnosis of some description but for all children learning about some of those really profound emotions and understanding what happens to your body in that context is a really helpful great example. I think of intentional teaching. Cathrine we're in our winding up space now where we're sort of pulling some of these ideas together. Do you want to share a couple of key thoughts from what we've heard from Alex and some of the conversations I've see that the chat continues to be quite busy there? So, lots of different ideas there but Cathrine back to you and in particular big take homes that we want to now move on now and we're at the conclusion about four-part series.   

Yeah, I think Catharine I just want us to revisit the Rs because I think that's really they guide us so much even Alex when you were talking about being on children's level that really sits so beautifully with that sense of respect and value for children. So, I think really in terms of moving forward it's just consistently thinking about what the quality of our relationship with the children and the families is that we support. Have I created a climate that supports children to feel big emotions to engage effectively in their environment to learn do I have I create an environment where families feel safe to share the challenges that they're experiencing with children so that idea of relationships and respect but it's really around empowering children with those skills? So, Alex talking about how children understand what emotions look like what do emotions feel like.  Feel like.  But again, just thinking about that bigger picture Catharine I think constantly we live in an environment that's changing constantly. COVID has presented a whole lot of challenges. And I think we really need to think about what impacts stress and I don't like to use the word trauma because trauma is not so much in the event but our experience of the event. But I think we need to think about the impact that stress has on children and the impact that stress has on the relationships children have. So, children do best when they have supportive and responsive relationship at home early childhood and within the community. So, it's thinking about how children's behaviours really tell us something about their needs and sometimes it's what they need or what needs are not being met. So again, it's looking at that the complex view and we really need to think about all of those factors that really shape and support children's behaviour. And when we do that and take that comprehensive view then I think we're really empowered to be in a position where we can support children and families effectively.   

Well, this takes us to the end of our webinar series, and it's been a fantastic to continue to talk to you Cathrine Neilsen-Hewett about some of the evidence that supports our thinking. And of course, Alex and our panellists over the last little while who've helped us to come back into practise so really grounded into practise. It is important that you go back into the Department of Education and Training website and have a look at the school readiness funding menu. If that's what you're interested in exploring, there's a whole range of information there will be as Alex suggested two opportunities for you to continue to network with your colleagues. So, continue to look out for that. The Department of Education and Training website is a plethora of information. So is too is your local region. So, if you've got a question about how to connect locally what else is happening in that space please go and talk to your local regional staff. Thank you so much everybody for your participation over these last webinars. It's an amazing privilege to sit and think with educators. So, I've learnt heaps from the conversations as we have progressed, I've learnt about what it looks like on a Wednesday afternoon when it's raining. Thank you very much Alex. And I've also learnt about some really big new ideas that Cathrine Neilsen-Hewett has presented to us. So hopefully all of you will take some of these ideas and start to progress conversations in your individual services. So, if you're an educational leader it's an opportunity for you to revisit the material that we've had today. So, go back and have a look at the recordings take little snippets of it pause them as you go show a little bit of it and have those discussions that Alex was talking about. What does it mean for us? What does it look like for us? Get the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework out have a look at your planning cycle. How can you respond to those things? There may be ideas that you've heard today that you think I will update it for the last three webinars that we've had that particularly intrigue you. Now it's not a matter of doing those tomorrow and say just because Alex said, or Leanne said, or Sally said we're going to do what they've suggested. It's a conversation that you need to have with your colleagues a reflective practise conversation to say what might that look like for us? How do we start to plan fours in our particular context what are the children of families in our community? What are they thinking about? What are their needs? You know your community's best you know your context best take that into reflective practise processes. Think through that and then start to apply them over time. As Alex has reminded us a lot of this is a bit of trial and error. So, you need to use your professional expertise to try new ideas to see whether they work record information that helps you understand whether they in fact have made a difference or not take away things that don't work and introduce new ideas and test them out to see if they continue to work. And please reach out to other professionals in your community. The partnerships with professionals are really important. You might get to a point when you think actually, I need some further assistance this particular child needs more assistance. And again, we would reach out to our maternal and child health nurses and other professionals in our community. And of course, indeed reach out to your educational leaders and other colleagues who can support you in these conversations. We do wish you all the best as you encounter this work. And we know that children with additional needs and children with challenging behaviours and children from all different places and spaces to take us into a place where we can truly reflect about our impact on the lives of the children and families we work with. Thank you very much everybody for your participation over these four webinars. And we hope to see you again thank you. (upbeat music)

Australian Professional Standards for Teachers

Developing teacher professional practice

The Department has developed a video to support early childhood teachers in their understanding of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers Standard 3: Plan for and implement effective teaching and learning.

The video provides an opportunity for teachers to reflect on what the Standard means in their every day professional practice.

Here is the video

For further information about the standards and how they relate to teacher registration, visit: Australian Professional Standards for Teachers

Other early childhood professional learning available on-demand