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Cognitive Self-Regulation: Improve

Infants and Toddlers

Reflecting on and improving your skills and knowledge that help you build children's cognitive self-regulation skills is important work. Here are some ideas you can try with your coach or supervisor to build your teaching practices in this area:

Planning Goals and Action Steps

  • Work with your coach or supervisor to identify the teaching practices you want to build and strengthen. Below are some practices that support infants' and toddlers' cognitive self-regulation skills.1,2,3
    • Use verbal and nonverbal strategies to follow children's interests and ideas and provide encouragement.
    • Provide access to different types of objects and positioning infants and toddlers in ways that allow them to explore objects to help them learn about the world.
    • Extend children's play by demonstrating other ways to use or move objects, calling attention to their attributes, properties, and functions, and gradually combining them.
    • Provide varied toys to allow children to explore and provide positioning, modeling, or verbal support.
    • Play games that help children focus and sustain their attention (e.g., hide and find games like peek-a-boo, imitation games like follow-the-leader, and fingerplays and songs with hand gestures or body movements).
    • Use different strategies to help children simplify the problem, such as providing a variety of types of cues (e.g., verbal, visual, modeling, physical) and encouraging children's attempts to solve problems.
    • Encourage children to keep trying to solve a problem and follow through to make sure the child is successful.
    • Provide specific feedback to children to help them repeat their success or alter what they do so that they are more successful.
    • Adjust the amount of support you give, providing prompts and support as needed. For young non-mobile infants, most problem-solving will involve learning how to control their bodies and move in space (e.g., rolling an infant onto her side so that she can roll the rest of the way over).
    • When conflict occurs, support child-directed solutions instead of solving problems for the children (e.g., offer different strategies such as finding a different but similar toy or taking turns).
  • In home-based programs, consider identifying and including broader relationship-building practices such as those described in Building Partnerships: Guide to Developing Relationships with Families.
  • Create an action plan with timelines to help you use the practices consistently and effectively.

Focused Observation

  • Revisit the teaching practice that you outlined in your planning goals and action steps with your coach/supervisor. Together, plan for and schedule an observation where they can focus on how you implement the practices you've identified.
    • For example, if you chose to focus on the practice, Use different strategies to help children simplify the problem, such as providing a variety of types of cues (e.g., verbal, visual, modeling, physical) and encouraging children's attempts to solve problems, you might plan for your coach/supervisor to observe during small group or center time. You might ask your coach/supervisor to note the variety of cues you offer a child to support her to persist in solving a problem. You might also want them to note the child's response to your efforts. Working with your coach/supervisor, you can identify the most effective use of the focused observation to support your goal.
  • In home-based programs, observations may focus on how you engage with parents to identify, adapt, and use the identified teaching and relationship-building practices. They may also focus on how you model the practices.

Reflection and Feedback

  • What went well? What did you do? How did the children react or respond?
    • In home-based settings, how did the parents react or respond? How did their reaction support the relationship with their child? Help their child develop cognitive self-regulation (executive functioning) skills?
  • Cite specific evidence from the observation.
  • What seemed challenging? What did you do? How did the children react or respond?
    • In home-based settings, how did the parents react or respond? Their child?
  • Cite specific evidence from the observation.
  • Did your coach or supervisor offer feedback from the observation that was surprising? What supports do you need from her to refine and strengthen the practice? What else would help you strengthen the practice?
  • What would you do differently if you were to use this practice again?
  • What do you hope the child or parents will gain by using this practice? How will you know?

Preschoolers

Reflecting on and improving your skills and knowledge to support children’s cognitive self-regulation skills is important work. Here are some ideas you can try with your coach or supervisor to build your teaching practices in this area:

Planning Goals and Action Steps

  • Work with your coach or supervisor to identify the teaching practices you want to build and strengthen. Below are some practices that support preschooler's cognitive self-regulation skills.4,5,6,7
    • Help children generate ideas for solving problems, express enthusiasm for the ideas, and encourage them to try solutions rather than telling them that an idea will not work.
    • Model persistence during a challenging task. Show the children that unsuccessful attempts help you learn what will work.
    • Use the following strategies to draw children's attention to learning objectives:
      • Advanced organizers (e.g., "Let's look though the pictures in this book before we read it to get an idea of what it's about")
      • Summaries (e.g., "Okay, we just talked about how pumpkins are a kind of squash—and that pumpkins are fruits, not vegetables!")
      • Reorientation statements (e.g., "I think we're getting a little off topic. Let's make sure we're thinking and talking about pumpkins—not about Halloween costumes.")
    • Keep focused on the learning objective when giving directions or asking questions.
    • Ask questions or add props (e.g., sea animals and plants to the water table) that support children's curiosity and reengage them when attention fades.
    • Give children your full attention and listen without becoming distracted.
    • Reduce stress in the learning environment by providing predictable routines, allowing children to know what to expect.
    • Allow time and space for practice.
    • Use games like Red Light/Green Light and Simon Says that require children to remember directions and then move their bodies.
  • In home-based programs, consider identifying and including broader relationship-building practices such as those described in Building Partnerships: Guide to Developing Relationships with Families.
  • Create an action plan with timelines to help you use the practices consistently and effectively.

Focused Observation

  • Revisit the teaching practice that you outlined in your planning goals and action steps with your coach/supervisor. Together, plan for and schedule an observation where they can focus on how you implement the practices you've identified.
    • For example, if you chose to focus on the practice, Keep focused on the learning objective when giving directions or asking questions, you might plan for your coach/supervisor to observe during morning meeting or small group time. You might ask them to listen to your questions and directions and note how they target or do not target the learning objective for the activity. You and your coach/supervisor might also decide that they will watch for children's responses to your questions or directions. For example, you may want your coach/supervisor to note whether children seemed to know what to do during the activity, used materials as intended, and remained engaged. Working with your coach/supervisor, you can identify the most effective use of the focused observation.
  • In home-based programs, observations may focus on how you engage with parents to identify, adapt, and use the identified teaching and relationship-building practices. They may also focus on how you model the practices.

Reflection and Feedback

  • What went well? What did you do? How did the children react or respond?
    • In home-based settings, how did the parents react or respond? How did their reaction support the relationship with their child? Help their child develop cognitive self-regulation (executive functioning) skills?
  • Cite specific evidence from the observation.
  • What seemed challenging? What did you do? How did the children react or respond?
    • In home-based settings, how did the parents react or respond? Their child?
  • Cite specific evidence from the observation.
  • Did your coach or supervisor offer feedback from the observation that was surprising? What supports do you need from her to refine and strengthen the practice? What else would help you strengthen the practice?
  • What would you do differently if you were to use this practice again?
  • What do you hope the child or parents will gain by using this practice? How will you know?

1Sally Atkins-Burnett, et.al., Measuring the Quality of Caregiver-Child Interactions with Infants and Toddlers: The Q-CCIIT Observer Certification Training User's Guide (Washington, DC: Mathematica Policy Research, 2016), 26, B.1.

2Sally Atkins-Burnett, et.al., Measuring the Quality of Caregiver-Child Interactions with Infants and Toddlers: The Q-CCIIT Observer Certification Training User's Guide (Washington, DC: Mathematica Policy Research, 2016), 28, B.2.

3Sally Atkins-Burnett, et.al., Measuring the Quality of Caregiver-Child Interactions with Infants and Toddlers: The Q-CCIIT Observer Certification Training User's Guide (Washington, DC: Mathematica Policy Research, 2016), 52–53, D.4.

4California Department of Education, California Preschool Curriculum Framework Volume 1 (Sacramento, CA: California Department of Education, 2010), 55–56, Social-Emotional Development, http://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/cd/re/documents/psframeworkkvol1.pdf.

5California Department of Education, California Preschool Curriculum Framework Volume 1 (Sacramento, CA: California Department of Education, 2010), 59, Social-Emotional Development, http://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/cd/re/documents/psframeworkkvol1.pdf.

6Robert C. Pianta, Karen M. La Paro, and Bridget K. Hamre, Classroom Assessment Scoring System Manual, Pre-K (Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes, 2008), 58–60, High Instructional Learning Formats.

7National Center on Quality Teaching and Learning, Front Porch Series: Building Executive Function Skills in Children and Adults (Washington, DC, Author, 5/20/13), https://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/video/building-executive-function-skills-children-adults.

Topic:School Readiness

Resource Type: Article

Last Updated: June 5, 2018