Self-regulation and the ability to manage one’s own behaviour is a primary task that the toddler needs to develop.
Self-regulation develops on a trajectory – in the first three months of a baby’s life, physiological regulation (of heartbeat, temperature and appetite) emerges. In the next few months, regulation of mood emerges – your little baby cried less and was happy with stimulation. The older baby regulates their sleep and learns to settle independently. It is in the toddler years that your little one learns to regulate their emotions and behaviour. It is this self-regulation of emotions that has been found to be one of the greatest predictors of academic success and of resilience in life. What does it mean?
Emotional regulation is the ability to regulate one’s emotions by:
- Recognising and reflecting on one’s own feelings and having a strong identity or sense of self.
- Recognising the feelings and intent of others and adjusting one’s own emotions and behaviour in this context.
- Connecting one’s emotions to what is happening in the world and internal state.
- Controlling behaviour by communicating feelings and managing impulses so that you behave in a way that allows for learning, socialisation and general function.
Toddlers learn this emotional regulation when they are cared for in an empathetic manner and given words or narrative for how they feel. A caring adult must co-regulate with the toddler – it’s a dance of managing their behaviour in a caring and empathic way.Nurturing toddlers with both narrative and co-regulation, forms the basis for emerging emotional regulation and is best achieved in a small group setting with a skilled and caring teacher or parent. Your nanny’s role is also recognised in this transition and in discussion with the other parents in the group, may attend the group until your little one settles.
We are social creatures and almost all facets of life require us to connect with others and work together. Being socially attuned is critical to happiness and to success in life.
The toddler years are a pivotal point in the development of socialisation. Once your toddler feels connected, safe, valued and has a sense of belonging and can regulate their emotions they begin to appreciate the emotional state of another. This forms the basis for care, empathy and respect for others
Being a member of society involves not only caring for our friends but also having a heart for the environment, society and the world around us. The Play Sense program connects little ones to others and their world in a way that produces community players – kids who think beyond themselves.
‘Super Sensory’ capacities
When looking at the key capacities for academic achievement, one cannot ignore those magic elements – the intangibles - that set one child apart from the next.
We have called these capacities the ‘Super Senses’. They include:
- Love for learning
- Engagement in tasks
- Volition or the will to do
- A sense of self efficacy and drive
Yeats said “Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire”. This is the foundation of Play Sense – it is a programme that inspires little ones, makes learning fun and ignites the fire – nurturing the ‘Super Senses’, which will become the foundation of a life-long journey of learning (Hirsh-Pasek, et al, 2009).
No education program would be complete without addressing the skill of executive function – the ability to plan, reason, apply judgement and achieve a goal. Executive function is like the CEO of the brain – it is in charge of making sure things get done – from the idea, through the planning stages of a task to the final deadline.1
The critical elements of executive function are:
- Deductive reasoning
- Critical thinking
- Working memory
- Problem solving
The more obvious measures of your toddler’s abilities will be the areas that are classically part of a playgroup curriculum:
- Gross motor skills
- Fine motor skills
- Cognitive skills such as numeracy, visual perception, memory, etc.
- Daily activities such as potty training, snack preparation and tidying up
These skills are easily measured and are the visible outcome of the underlying foundations of sensory-motor processing, emotional and social ability, Super Sensory capacity and executive function.