New Course from CCEI on The Value of Mindfulness in Early Childhood Settings

ChildCare Education Institute® (CCEI), an online child care training provider dedicated exclusively to the early care and education workforce, is proud to introduce SOC106: The Value of Mindfulness in Early Childhood Settings to the online child care training course catalog.

The concept of mindfulness is getting a lot of attention in popular culture these days, often accompanied by images of peaceful people sitting quietly in a serene setting. That’s not exactly the picture that comes to mind when visualizing an early learning environment. So, the question is, can elements of mindfulness be brought into the daily routine, and can it have a positive impact in a child care setting? This course answers those questions and provides strategies early childhood education providers can begin to use right away.

Teachers have reported wonderful results from mindfulness practices in programs serving children as young as 2 and 3 years old. Children work better together and establish a classroom community. This sense of community causes a major reduction in the stress level of the entire group. Mindfulness practices can prevent instances of undesired behavior, increase focus and engagement, and promote a feeling of ownership and empowerment for the children. As an additional benefit, classroom communities tend to be more empathetic and kind classrooms.

This course provides participants with an understanding of their role in supporting mindfulness practices in the early childhood environment. The course explores the need for these calming and reflective approaches when working with young children. Participants will discover ways to plan for mindfulness throughout each day and arrange the early childhood classroom to support this approach.

“The content of this course benefits all childcare providers and parents,” says Maria C. Taylor, President and CEO of CCEI. “Participants of this course will gain a wealth of new activity ideas that they can immediately implement in the classroom to teach children valuable social emotional skills.”

SOC106: The Value of Mindfulness in Early Childhood Settings is a two-hour, beginner-level course and grants 0.2 IACET CEU upon successful completion. Current CCEI users with active, unlimited annual subscriptions can register for professional development courses at no additional cost when logged in to their CCEI account. Users without subscriptions can purchase child care training courses as block hours through CCEI online enrollment.

For more information, visit https://www.cceionline.edu or call 1.800.499.9907, prompt 3, Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. EST

Radically Changing Your Style of Communication

The human brain is wired to take in new information and organize it in a way that makes sense.  There is a constant flow of observation, interpretation, comparison, and application.  What is this new information?  What does it mean?  How is it like/unlike the information I already have stored up here?  What do I do with this information?

When we communicate with other people, all of these thought processes are present; often occurring at a hastened pace.  Add into the mix our emotional responses (This information makes me feel….), and it becomes easy to see why effective communication can be so challenging.

It is possible that a breakdown in communication can happen at any step of this process:

  • You may not clearly hear the person or be familiar with the vocabulary they are using.
  • You may misunderstand the meaning of their words or misinterpret the intention of the conversation.
  • If the information is contrary to information you have or believe, conflict may arise.
  • As you are trying to decide how to use new information, you may not be fully present and listening to the rest of what the other person is saying.
  • And without even thinking about it, you may experience an emotional reaction to the new information that clouds your ability to think clearly.

What if we could radically change how we communicate by adding a few new strategies to our bag of tricks?  Maybe one of these ideas would make a difference for you:

Your Story –

Several thought leaders and social science researchers, including Brené Brown from the University of Houston,  have shared ways to combat the detrimental effects our story has on our ability to communicate and connect with others.

Your story is simply what you believe to be true based on the information you have.  It is the result of your observations and interpretations of information.   Good news, right?  Nope! The fact is, your story could be wrong.  Your observations might be incomplete and your interpretations may be flawed.

It’s not your fault that you have a story… we all have stories.  The brain is designed to create meaning.  But knowing this to be true, we can act to address our stories in an effort to become better communicators.

The simplest way to do this is to acknowledge that you have a story; first to yourself, and then if you are really courageous, to others.  Imagine that a coworker walks past you in the hallway without smiling or saying hello.  Your brain may create the story that “My coworker doesn’t like me…  is upset with me… is mean, etc.”

Step one in this situation is to acknowledge that you have just created a story.  You made it up – right there – on the spot.  It might be true, but it also could be false.   By evaluating your stories, you can begin to strip away the emotions tied to the stories, such as:

  • What did I do wrong? (worry, guilt)
  • I didn’t do anything wrong! (defensiveness)
  • Wow, what a meanie!  (offended)

Once the story is acknowledged and layers of emotions have been removed, you might choose to approach your coworker and say something like, “Hey, I noticed you are not your normal cheery self today.  Is everything OK?”  Or you might choose to let it go.

If the same situation occurs for several days, you could approach your coworker and say, “We have not had a chance to talk all week.  I am creating a story that something is wrong between us.  Is there anything we need to address?”

Open-Ended Questions

Early care and education providers are trained to ask open-ended questions to children to promote exploration and deeper levels of thinking.  These same questions can build supportive relationships with the parents can coworkers as well.

How often do you use these questions:

  • Tell me more about…
  • What is/is not working…?
  • How can I help?
  • Have you considered…?
  • How did you come to that conclusion/decision?
  • What would make a difference…?
  • What else could we try?

Deep Listening –

Everyone knows about the importance of listening during conversations.  It is essential to effective communication.  Unfortunately, it is also a very difficult practice. And it is just that – a practice. It’s something you have to do repeatedly, with intention, in order to improve.

During your next conversation, pay attention to your listening.  Are you truly present for the other person, or are you thinking about how you will respond, what advice you will give, or even a book you can recommend. Chances are, your mind will be pulled away from the other person’s words for any number of reasons.

When this happens, gently bring your attention back to the speaker.  If you realize that you have missed important information, you might decide to acknowledge it.  Say something like, “I am sorry, could you please say that last part again? What you are talking about reminded me of an article I want to share with you and I got distracted thinking about where I could find it.  I was not fully listening to the last thing you said,” or “Can I stop you for a second?  I am sorry.  I started planning what I was going to say next, and I stopped listening. Would you mind repeating your last point?

At this point, you might be thinking to yourself, “This sounds awkward.  People don’t talk like this!”

Exactly the point!

How might your communication change if you did?

Take CCEI’s October Free Trial Course PROF103 Strategies for Success in Challenging Conversations today.  Offered 10/1-10/31/17.  Click here for more information.

CCEI Offers No-Cost Online Course Examining Strategies for Success in Challenging Conversations

ChildCare Education Institute® (CCEI), an online child care training provider dedicated exclusively to the early care and education workforce, offers PROF103 Strategies for Success in Challenging Conversations as a no-cost trial course to new CCEI users during the month of October.

Communication is one of the biggest parts of the job of being an educator and caregiver. Each day we communicate with the children, family members, coworkers, people we manage, and individuals who manage us. Many of these conversations are pleasant, social interactions, or general requests for information or assistance.

However, there are times throughout the day when we may need to communicate a more serious need or share information that is less than pleasing. Perhaps you have to talk with a coworker about the tone of voice they use with children. Maybe a parent makes a complaint about something that happened to their child. You may need to deliver concerning results of a developmental screening to a family or tell your employer that you are not happy in your position.

All of these situations would fall under the category of challenging conversations for most of us. Not many people are comfortable delivering bad news, sharing concerning details, or being caught off guard by confrontation. Everyone is different; some conversations may be easier for you than others. You may hate direct confrontation, but your coworker seems to handle those situations effectively. Even though challenging conversations are probably not our most preferred interactions, there are ways that we can become more skilled in managing these conversations. Doing so can reduce our level of discomfort and make us better communicators.

“The topics covered in this course are frequently cited as both essential and neglected in professional development for Early Childhood Education,” says Maria C. Taylor, President and CEO of CCEI. “All providers need to be aware of current research and best practices in the area of effective communication in order to create appropriate environments for young children and build strong working relationships with coworkers and families.”

PROF103: Strategies for Success in Challenging Conversations is a two-hour, beginner-level course and grants 0.2 IACET CEU upon successful completion. Current CCEI users with active, unlimited annual subscriptions can register for professional development courses at no additional cost when logged in to their CCEI account. Users without subscriptions can purchase child care training courses as block hours through CCEI online enrollment.

For more information, visit www.cceionline.edu or call 1.800.499.9907, prompt 3, Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. EST