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  • Katharine Pearson

Nido Early School Pennington

At Nido Early School, Pennington, we’ve been fortunate enough to have received some incredible mentoring and training from Connect.Ed throughout 2022. The support was aimed at educating our team to better understand children’s behaviours and specifically, understanding the impact that developmental trauma can have.



We chose to enlist the support of Connect.Ed for a variety of reasons. All educators in our team said that, despite their lack of confidence in this area, they were committed to learning more so that they could support all children in our care. With this commitment and passion for learning in mind, we used the Innovative Solutions Support funding stream (provided by IDFM) to enlist the help of the amazing services that Connect.Ed could provide. Whilst creating our application for the Innovative Solutions Support funding, it showed us exactly why some of our staff were struggling and wanted to further their understanding. As a centre we have a high proportion of children who have experienced developmental trauma, a high percentage of educators working in their first 2 years within the early childhood sector, and a very culturally diverse centre, with many families and educators having experienced significantly different ways of supporting children through behavioural challenges.


As a centre, we became united in becoming pro-active with the hurdles that we were facing, and together, with the help of educators and leaders within the service, our Innovative Solutions Support funding was granted. Before we knew it, it was time to begin the project and the Connect.Ed team came to observe our existing practice across the rooms and to develop a training and mentoring program that was tailored to the unique needs of our centre.


As quickly as the project began, our educators soon became experts in brain development. They were equipped with strategies for behavioural support, they were confident in co-regulation, and they held an understanding of the complexities of developmental trauma.


In front of our eyes, educator practice was evolving. Previously we had seen educators become flustered in challenging situations, but now, educators stated that they were “more confident approaching children with challenging behaviours” than they were before the Connect.Ed program, and it’s clear that this newfound confidence is shining through the centre as a whole.


There were many take away moments that have now become embedded here at Nido Pennington. One specifically is the phrasing that educators use when supporting children through challenging moments. Connect.Ed refer to this as ‘Limit Setting’ (Landreth, 2002), which involves the following 3 steps: acknowledge the child’s feelings, communicate the limit and traget acceptable alternatives. This 3 step approach has not only been shared amongst the team, but with families too, and the feedback from families has likewise been fantastic, with one parent stating that “I have taken on new language and find myself using it more confidently at home with my children…and it works!”


With all of this said, without doubt our most beautiful learning has come through developing the art of ‘co-regulation’ between educators and children. We all know that, when children become distressed or frustrated, it can be hard on adults too. Connect.Ed taught us so many strategies to use in these moments; from “Hot Chocolate Breathing” and “Five Finger Breathing” to “Wall Push-Ups” and practicing the “Butterfly Pose”, there really has been a strategy given to meet each child’s needs. Our Mindful Moments have become focus points within our day, which has meant that our children are more in tune with their own feelings and emotions. In our Kinder 2 Room, our children ask to have mindfulness time when they can feel they’re becoming overwhelmed. It’s truly been a beautiful journey to witness.


As stated by our Leadership Team, accessing this training and mentoring has been “the best thing we could have done” and, knowing that we’re better connected to our children in these challenging times is such a rewarding feeling. It’s changed the whole dynamic of the centre, and we’re so proud of how far we’ve come as a community. We cannot thank Connect.Ed enough for the impact this training has had on our centre.


 

"The best thing we could have done as a centre. Kerra-Lee, Chloe and Connect.Ed have provided training and insight that has improved all areas of communicating and responding to the children in our care. You can hear and see the effect this learning has had on our centre. I really hope to continue our relationship with Connect.Ed and engage in further professional development. So worth it!"


- Ash, Early Childhood Educator


"It has given me deeper information about the starting development of children and how this effects children in different ways. I feel I better understand some of the challenging behaviours that I have come across and have different ideas on how to approach these. I enjoyed the discussions we all had as groups and teams. "


- Michelle, Early Childhood Educator


"The strategies shared by the speaker and our colleagues were very practical. I learned how to always think from the children’s or families’ perspective before making decisions or judgement."


– Gloria, Early Childhood Educator


"It has made me more aware of looking more into the reasoning behind the children’s behaviours and using the 3 step method to redirect their behaviour. I like the language that is used and would like to try and get in the habit of using this."


– Kirsty, Early Childhood Educator


“I loved our Connect.Ed project as I felt like my practice has been improved since starting. Understanding attachments and brain development has helped me support children better and understand their needs.”


- Kate, Early Childhood Educator


 

The Innovative Solutions Support (ISS) funding is available through the Inclusion Support Program (ISP) to assist eligible early childhood education and care services to fund innovative, flexible and responsive solutions to barriers to inclusion and embed inclusive practices.


Innovative Solutions Support provides flexible funding to empower services to carefully consider their inclusion challenges and take on an active role in finding solutions and build their capacity and capability to include children with additional needs.


For more information about the funding, please contact the South Australia Inclusion Agency inclusion@gowriesa.org.au


 

Connect.Ed can support early childhood education and care services to implement trauma-informed practice, using a regulatory and relationship-based approach. This approach is different to a ‘traditional’ behaviour-management approach and, instead, focuses on supporting children to regulate their emotional experiences using their emotional connection with Educators.


For more information about accessing support from Connect.Ed, please contact admin@connecteducation.info


 

This case study was written by Katharine Pearson (Centre Director at Nido Early School Pennington) for the Summer 2023 Edition of Connected Caregiving.

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