A Focus on Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health

January 2022
High Quality Supportive Environments – Classroom Management
This newsletter focuses on sharing information on infant/early childhood mental health and
the importance of relationship-based approaches and supports that help infants and young children feel safe, supported, and valued by the adults around them. The newsletter, and the Infant Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (IECMHC) program, is made possible by a partnership between the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) and the Pennsylvania Key.
Welcome to the January issue of the IECMH newsletter! This month we will continue to explore High Quality Supportive Environments with a focus on Classroom Management. Classroom Management includes Transitions, Teacher Zoning, Giving Clear Directions, Providing Choices, etc.  

Children tend to be more cooperative, more engaged, and better behaved when they are involved with activities, materials, and individuals that they enjoy. Therefore, teachers, parents, and other caregivers can promote improved behavior by providing children access to preferred toys, materials, activities, and even social partners. If it is difficult to determine a child’s preferences, one can ask parents and others who are very familiar with the child, or one can observe the child’s reactions and engagement when he or she is using various items or activities and when he or she is playing with different children. It is also helpful to consider the items that the child is naturally drawn to or seeks out when given the opportunity. (from CSEFEL What Works briefs) 
When children are invested and feel ownership over what happens throughout the day, they feel safe and secure. In turn, children who feel safe and secure are better able to build positive relationships and learn. 
High-quality learning environments are a critical mediating factor in young children’s learning. This environment is well -organized and follows staff-child ratios where teachers are present and engaged with the children and the other important adults in the classroom. These teachers plan and design activities and routines, thoughtful choices are made. Consideration of the children’s interests and needs, the physical environment and materials ensure the day runs smoothly.
Video: Zoning to Maximize Learning 3:41
Zoning is an effective practice to help teachers manage staff. This practice can also be used to create well-organized classrooms and increase children’s engagement and learning. Click here to read.

Supervisory Structures for Promoting Social Emotional Development
Maintaining required staff-child ratios makes it possible to provide good supervision for young children in your care, and in so doing, help promote their healthy social and emotional development. Click here to read.
Using Environmental Strategies to Promote Positive Social Interactions
Environmental strategies are changes and adaptations that can be made to a classroom’s physical environment, schedule, activities, and materials to encourage positive social interactions between children in the classroom. Click here to read.
Children make many transitions each day.  When and how often transitions occur are usually decided by an adult and children often act out with challenging behavior when they feel unable to control their routine. When you help children prepare for transitions you are helping them to learn a valuable skill.

Video: Classroom Transitions 3:46
Learn ways to help children use positive behaviors during classroom transitions. Click here to watch the video.
Helping Children Transition Between Activities
For some children, moving from one activity to another results in confusion, frustration or challenging behavior. Adults can help children predict what is coming next by using these strategies to support transitions. Click here to read.
How to Help Your Child Transition Smoothly Between Places and Activities
Try this at home and practice at school. Click here to read in English or Spanish.
Providing young children opportunities to use their voices and make decisions builds relationships and strengthens cooperation.
Giving children choices
Giving children choices helps then to feel like they have some power and control over what they do an is a step in growing up. Click here to read.

Using Choice and Preference to Promote Improved Behavior
Offering choices to children involves allowing them to indicate their preference at specific points in time and throughout their day and then giving them access to the items or activities they choose. Choices can be offered in countless settings, including meals, chores, centers, routines, and play. Click here to read.

You Choose!
Explore why we offer choices to young children and how to give them choices. Click here to read. Click here to read.
The specific way in which you give directions to a child is a key factor in determining whether they'll comply. 

You can increase the chances that your child will listen and successfully follow your directions when you make sure that your direction is clearly stated and you follow through. Redirection is an alternative to saying, “No, stop, don’t do that!” when a child is having difficulty following directions.

You can replace an unwanted behavior with one that is acceptable by clearly telling the child what to do.
How to Give Clear Directions
Listening and following directions are important skills young children must learn. You can increase the chances that your child will listen and successfully follow your directions when you make sure that your direction is clearly stated and you follow through. Click to read in English or Spanish.
Redirecting Behavior 4:53
Learn ways to redirect challenging behavior before it escalates. Click here to watch the video.
Steps for Giving Directions
Giving good directions takes practice. Here are six keys and four steps to keep in mind. Click here to read.
The Pennsylvania Key Infant-Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation Team is excited to share a new service: Virtual Office Hours!
Through Virtual Office Hours, early learning professionals, families, and specialists who are supporting children 0-5 will be able to speak directly with IECMH Consultants via telephone or video conference. Virtual Office Hours is a short-term, collaborative, problem-solving conversation to help caregivers and specialists find next steps for: Child Social-Emotional Concerns, Child Behavioral or Developmental Concerns, Emotional Well-being of Teachers and Caregivers, and Partnering with Families.
This service is now available at no cost across the state of Pennsylvania. Virtual Office Hours are available by appointment on the first and third Fridays of every month. Get more info.
The Pennsylvania Key has streamlined the process for Keystone STARS programs to request Infant Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (IECMHC). Child care providers can request services by using the Request for Service Form (PDF). Completed forms can be submitted via email PAIECMH@pakeys.org or faxed to 717-213-3749.
Programs and families can contact the program leadership directly at PAIECMH@pakeys.org with questions or concerns.
Share your feedback! We'd like to hear what you think about infant early childhood mental health. Are there resources you'd like to see? Questions you have? Tell us! Send your feedback to PAIECMH@pakeys.org.