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Relationships with Other Children: Improve

Infants and Toddlers

Reflecting on and improving your skills and knowledge to support children’s relationships with other children 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. Here are some practices that help infants and toddlers develop healthy relationships with other children:1
    • Position children, particularly infants, so they can see what others are doing.
    • Arrange space for more than one child to play in an area.
    • Comment on children’s play and peer interactions, calling attention to what others are doing.
    • Structure play and activities to encourage and scaffold peer interactions.
    • Provide some toys and activities that work better when played with another child.
    • Pair children with similar interests, to balance temperaments, or to provide peer models.
      • For infants, you may have them play close to one another and refer to others in the room as children.
    • Depending on children’s developmental level, encourage a range of types of peer play, including parallel, associative, social, and dramatic.
    • Model positive social behaviors such as “gentle touch” by putting your hands over child’s hands to guide touching peers gently.
    • Talk about peers as people with feelings.
    • Support solving problems with peers by offering children 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 your planning goals and action steps where you and your coach or supervisor identified a teaching practice you want to work on. Together, plan for and schedule an observation where your coach/supervisor can focus on how you implement the practices you’ve identified.
    • For example, if you chose to focus on the practice, Adult comments on children’s play and peer interactions, calling attention to what others are doing, you might ask your coach/supervisor to observe the number of times you use parallel talk to narrate what children are doing as they work and play together. You might also ask your coach to notice opportunities for narrating children’s actions that were missed during the observation period.
  • In home-based programs, observations may focus on how the home visitor engages 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 child/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? Their child’s relationship with another child or children?
  • Cite specific evidence from the observation.
  • What seemed challenging? What did you do? How did the child/children react or respond?
    • In home-based settings, how did the parents react or respond? Their child? Other children?
  • Cite specific evidence from the observation.
  • Did your coach/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/children/parents will gain by using this practice? How will you know?

Preschoolers

Reflecting on and improving your skills and knowledge to support children’s relationships with other children 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. Here are some practices that help preschoolers develop healthy relationships with important adults in their lives:2, 3
    • Offer many chances for practicing social interaction and relationship skills (e.g., during activities and routines).
    • Narrate for children what you see them doing and expressing, providing language to describe their thoughts and feelings and to clarify others’ feelings.
    • Scaffold and guide children’s behavior by using positive, respectful phrasing and tone to prompt social problem-solving and to give brief instructions and reminders.
    • Use the experiences and emotions of characters in children’s books and stories to illustrate social problem-solving, cooperative behavior, and other concepts.
    • Intentionally teach social skills, friendship skills, and emotion regulation.
    • Provide sincere, enthusiastic feedback to promote and maintain social interactions.
    • Model phrases children can use to initiate and encourage interactions.
    • Facilitate interactions by supporting and suggesting play ideas.
  • 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 your planning goals and action steps where you and your coach/supervisor identified a teaching practice you want to work on. Together, plan for and schedule an observation where your coach/supervisor can focus on how you implement the practices you’ve identified.
    • For example, if you chose to focus on the practice, Use the experiences and emotions of characters in children’s books and stories to illustrate social problem solving, cooperative behavior, and other concepts, you might ask your coach/supervisor to attend a circle time where you plan to use puppets along with a children’s story to model problem-solving. During that observation, you might ask him to watch how you use this strategy as well as to observe how children experienced the activity so that he can provide feedback to enhance your practice.
  • In home-based programs, observations may focus on how the home visitor engages 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 child/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? Their child’s relationship with another child or children?
  • Cite specific evidence from the observation.
  • What seemed challenging? What did you do? How did the child/children react or respond?
    • In home-based settings, how did the parents react or respond? Their child? Other children?
  • Cite specific evidence from the observation.
  • Did your coach/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/children/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), 23, A.4, 52-53, D.4.

3California Department of Education, California Preschool Curriculum Framework Volume 1 (Sacramento, CA: California Department of Education, 2010), 40–42, Social-Emotional Development, http://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/cd/re/documents/psframeworkkvol1.pdf.

4Vanderbilt University, “Inventory of Practices for Supporting Children’s Social Emotional Competence,” CSEFEL Preschool Module 1, Handout 1.2 (Nashville, TN: Author, 2013), 9–10, http://csefel.vanderbilt.edu/resources/training_preschool.html.

Topic:School Readiness

Resource Type: Article

Last Updated: January 30, 2018