Applying Developmental Science and Trauma Informed Practices

Supporting children and families re-entering early childhood programs

As children return to early care and education settings in Wyoming, early childhood educators are concerned with responding to the needs of those children who may have experienced high levels of stress during the COVID-19 closure. Applying principles of developmental science and integrating trauma-sensitive teaching strategies during this transition will support all children and provide essential tools for those most vulnerable. Early childhood educators can use the following strategies to support children’s successful transition into early care and education settings.

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STRENGTHENING RELATIONSHIPS with caring and supportive adults helps children feel safe and calms their stress response systems.

LOOKING FOR CHILDREN’S AND FAMILY’S STRENGTHS allows early childhood educators to identify unique gifts, abilities, and contributions to celebrate and build upon.

USING CULTURALLY RESPONSIVE PRACTICES respects and honors diverse family structures, supports family preferences and values, and creates pathways for communication and connection.

PROVIDING PREDICTABLE, SAFE, AND NURTURING ENVIRONMENTS help children feel less anxious and more secure and decreases emotional triggers.

REDUCING AND INTENTIONALLY SUPPORTING TRANSITIONS during a child’s day helps mitigate feelings of loss of control and reduces anxiety.

PROVIDING OPPORTUNITIES FOR CHILDREN’S OPEN-ENDED PLAY focuses children’s attention, promotes feelings of self-mastery, and allows children to process their experiences.

CREATING COZY AND CALMING SPACES that children can retreat to, helps children self-regulate and reduces the fight, flight, or freeze response to stress-inducing situations.

TALKING ABOUT FEELINGS AND EMOTIONS helps children identify sensations they are physically experiencing and connect these to emotions so that they can recognize emotions in themselves and others.

REINFORCING UNCONDITIONAL LOVE when children are experiencing strong emotions helps normalize their experience and calm the stress response system.

FOCUSING ON TEACHING RATHER THAN PUNISHING promotes learning of new and healthy social-emotional strategies.

PRACTICING SELF-REFLECTION AND SELF-AWARENESS is essential for teachers so that they are able to observe and respond to children’s emotional states and behaviors and be emotionally available when children experience a stress response.

ACCESSING SYSTEMS OF SUPPORT provides early childhood educators with opportunities to connect, process their experiences, and receive strength and support to meet their physical and emotional needs.