Sunday, January 20, 2013

Self-Regulation Skills and School Readiness

Research continues to show that self-regulation skills are critical for success in many areas. Self-regulation is the set of skills we use to help control and direct our thoughts, feelings and behaviors. The job of a thermostat is a great analogy for self-regulation. It constantly monitors the temperature in the room, and when something changes, it initiates an action that will bring the temperature back into balance.

Children with well-developed self-regulation skills:
  • Have fewer behavior problems (Blair & Diamond, 2008)
  • Have higher reading and math achievement in Kindergarten (Blair & Razza, 2007)
  • Are able to manage their feelings and behaviors better (Blair & Diamond, 2008)
  • Are more socially-emotionally competent
In contrast, poor self-regulation has been linked to:
  • High rates of expulsion in preschool classrooms (Gilliam & Shahar, 2006)
  • Lower reading and math achievement in Kindergarten (Blair & Razza, 2007)
  • Aggressive and oppositional behavior (Graziano et al., 2006; Raver, 2004)
What Can We Do?
As with most skills, early exposure and training is best. The Self-Regulation Training System offers a simple, concrete method for teaching children the skills necessary for improving self-regulation.

We begin with simple lessons to help young children learn how to regulate their physical responses to changes changes in the environment. We teach them how to recognize their Warning Signs and then how to regulate them.

We then move to helping them learn how to regulate their emotions by labeling, expressing and owning their feelings. With preschool-age children, we do not get very far into cognitive regulation skills. However, we do find tools like the Self-Regulation Training Board to be very helpful.

Results of the Self-Regulation Training System have been shown to significantly increase self-regulation skills. Recently, 380 First Grade children received 6 hours of Self-Regulation training over a 6-week period of time. The average score on the Self-Regulation Teacher Rating Scale improved from 72 to 87. This extremely significant outcome is very exciting and underscores the notion that young children are capable of learning self-regulation skills to increase success and school readiness.

by Brad Chapin, LCP, LMLP


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