The early months of pandemic living reinforced one important truth. Children thrive on consistency, routines and relationships. The predictability of these elements provides a sense of safety and security. When we feel safe and secure, we are open to learning.
Months of remote learning helped us to see the deeper work that schools do; work that goes beyond curriculum and standards. School is also about personal connections. When children feel safe and known by their teachers and peers, they are better able to learn and behave in more pro-social ways.
In an effort to advance the existing bonds between families and teachers, we decided to pilot a practice known as looping in some of our Landmark Preschool – Westport classrooms. Looping means that the children and the teachers all move together from one grade to the next, in our case from our Threes to our Fours program. Numerous studies (Brown University) have shown that looping offers both social and academic benefits for returning and new students.
Our students were so happy to see their teachers and classmates again. It helped ease their anxiety after leaving abruptly in the spring, and gave confidence to parents who already knew their children’s teachers. This focus on relationships and consistency has been effective in supporting good behavior and engaged learning.
You can help use this approach at home:
- Provide young children with predictable routines and schedules
- Offer clear and consistent limits
- Develop a comforting bedtime ritual. A regular bedtime that allows for your child to get a good night’s sleep is really important for both brain and body. Johns Hopkins University recommends that children 3-5 years old get 10-13 hours of sleep a day. A home with young children might focus on dinner, bath, and a story. In a home where there are both older and younger children, you will need to have routines that are appropriate for each child. An older child might need some homework time after dinner and then a chance to read either alone, or with a you before settling in.
- The routines do not have to be the same for everyone. Different household needs and different ages of children mean routines can, and should, differ.
- Being fair means recognizing what each child needs and setting expectations that are in line with that.
Remember, while some children push hard against limits, setting clear and consistent limits actually helps them feel safe.
We spent last spring struggling to adapt; balancing the demands of work, home and school while socially isolating. COVID continues to throw off many of our normal daily activities. Without the knowledge of when things can return to a more normal routine, the best thing you can do for young children is to offer safe, secure connections with caring adults, and predictable routines and limits at school and at home.
For more info about Landmark School Westport, please visit their website here.