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The assignment is 2100 words but broken into three separate sections with each equally 700 words. There are three questions to answer with separate readings for each. Question 1 is based on Topic 1, question 2 is based on Topics 2 & 3 and question 3 is based on Topic 4. Please do not blend together as one essay they are three separate questions.  If you have any queries please ask before completing. All readings have been uploaded except the videos, which you will find online using the link provided under each heading.
Introduction to Course
This course aims to provide a broad introduction to the topic of social and emotional development and ways to support positive behaviour in young children with or without diagnosed disabilities. Whether your interest or professional experience is in the field of Early Childhood Education or Early Childhood Special Education, behaviour difficulties feature as a prominent concern for both parents and Early Childhood professionals. The forms that challenging behaviour may take, the reasons for its occurrence and ways to address social-emotional deficits and behaviour difficulties are explored in this course.
The course commences with an introduction to typical development in social and emotional skills and background information about the importance of actively fostering and at times directly teaching these skills to young children. Challenging behaviour in young children is often associated with difficulties or delays in social and emotional skills, but it is also important to consider the contexts in which the child is functioning and the other participants in those environments.  While there may be delays or deficits inherent in a child that contribute to challenging behaviour, all behaviour represents a ‘transaction’ between child-related factors, the actions and reactions of the peers and adults interacting with the child and the nature of the environment in which these interactions occur. A strong emphasis is given throughout the following topics to the Teaching Pyramid and associated models of prevention and intervention in the area of challenging behaviour. These models are based on the premise that the first step in any prevention or intervention approach is to examine the physical and social features of the child’s environment and make changes to adult behaviour or daily routines to ensure that the basic needs for belonging, trust and autonomy are being met. This step is regarded as the primary or ‘universal’ method of intervention because it is class or program-wide and addresses the needs of ALL children, whether or not they have identified problems. Teaching children specific social and emotional skills are regarded as a ‘secondary’ method, while individualised assessment and intervention is known as the third step or ‘tertiary’ level of intervention.
The readings have been selected to give you access to a broad range of issues and sources of information.  My aim is for you to be aware of the underlying theories and latest research in this area and become acquainted with the rich store of evidence-based articles and resources, which are now available through internet sites.
The first assignment requires you to reflect on and review what you have learned as you study each topic while the second assignment has been designed to give you confidence in applying a sequence of processes by which behaviour challenges can be assessed, interpreted and addressed. I hope you enjoy the readings and the course, and most particularly that you gain new insights about this area of child development, or confirmation that your current knowledge and practice are supported by theory and research findings.
Topic 1: Typical and atypical social and emotional development
Please find all readings uploaded except the video, which you will find online using the link provided.
Duchesne, S. McMaugh, A., Bochner, S., & Krause, K. (2013). Educational Psychology for Learning and Teaching (Chapter 3, pp.134-147). Victoria, Australia: Cengage.
Guralnick, M.J. (2010). Early intervention approaches to enhance the peer-related social competence of young children with developmental delays: A historical perspective. Infants & Young Children, 23 (2), 73-83.
Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University (2011). Building the brain’s “Air Traffic Control” system: How early experiences shape the development of executive function: Working paper No. 11. Available at: http://46y5eh11fhgw3ve3ytpwxt9r.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/How-Early-Experiences-Shape-the-Development-of-Executive-Function.pdf
Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing. (2013). Social and emotional learning and development: KidsMatter and Belonging, Being & Becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia. Available at: https://www.kidsmatter.edu.au/sites/default/files/public/KidsMatter%20Component%202%20Professional%20Learning%20Module%202%20Reading.pdf
Kidsmatter Video – 1.1 Social and emotional learning and mental health. Available at: http://www.kidsmatter.edu.au/early-childhood/professional-learning/developing-childrens-social-and-emotional-skills
Historically, social and emotional development has received less attention from educational professionals than cognitive development. This has partly been owing to the perception that ‘learning’ primarily involves cognitive processes, such as thinking, memory and recall and metacognitive processes, such as planning, self-monitoring and revision. In the past decade, the role of social and emotional skills in fostering academic progress and as important aspects of holistic development has gained greater recognition. This course aims to provide an overview of how social-emotional skills develop, why the development of these skills are so important for both typically and atypically developing children, what factors can impede or promote social-emotional development and how adults can structure environments and interactions with and among children to promote the acquisition and refinement of social and emotional competencies.
Because it is difficult to predict the nature and extent of the background knowledge of people undertaking this course, the readings in the first topic provide a broad perspective of social-emotional development, commencing with the early years, but also spanning the middle childhood and adolescent years. This is to give you an understanding of how development during the early childhood years can impact on later functioning in both social-emotional and academic domains.  The readings also span both typical and atypical development. It is often difficult to distinguish between what is ‘normal’ and what is ‘aberrant’ behaviour during the early childhood years, since this is a time when children are still learning how to regulate their own emotions, understand the feelings of others and respond appropriately in interpersonal interactions and conflicts. The readings in the course have been selected to reflect research on both children with and without diagnosed disabilities. As you will see as you progress through the course, whether you are working in early intervention services or inclusive educational settings, strategies to address social-emotional difficulties have a common basis in moving from ‘universal’ or preventive strategies to more focused and intensive individualised interventions.
Duchesne et al. (2013) provide a helpful explanation of typical emotional development and competencies as well as the development of social competencies including play skills, interactions with peers and forming friendships. The functionalist and social constructivist perspectives of social and emotional development are explained. The functionalist view recognises the role of emotions in shaping our social behaviour, while the social constructivist view emphasises the ‘transactional’ nature of social and emotional development, that is, the acquisition of social and emotional skills occurs through a child’s experiences within the social context in which they function and through interactions and relationships with peers and adults. A useful table is provided on p.135 that describes Saarnis (2000) list of emotional competencies and the understanding that is required for children to attain these skills. The first two skills in this table are awareness of our own emotional states and the ability to discern the emotions of other people. The ability to read facial expressions and understand what emotions these convey is crucial to developing empathy, that is, to understand the feelings of others and see situations from another person’s point of view. Empathy is thus essential for interacting effectively with others. Another helpful table (3.7) is provided on p.138. Here, Selman’s stages of perspective-taking ability are described with the approximate ages by which children attain these understandings. The important role that emotional self-regulation plays in shaping our thoughts and behaviour is also explained.
Guralnick (2010) provides an historical account of developmental models of social competence from an Early Intervention perspective. Although primarily describing the situation for the large heterogeneous population of young children with as yet undiagnosed disabilities or mild developmental delay, the discussion is relevant to a range of children with specific disabilities such as Down syndrome or Fragile X syndrome. The problems such children have in initiating and maintaining peer interactions are discussed and the term ‘peer competence’ is used to describe the ongoing peer-related social deficits that children with delay typically exhibit in their attempts to participate in play or group activities in inclusive settings. Guralnick provides a model of peer competence and describes the behavioural skills (emotion regulation and a shared understanding of the nature of the play) as well as the higher order thinking processes that are required for children to successfully select strategies and appropriate responses in play activities. Guralnick proposes that normative models of social development need to be integrated with intervention designs in order to provide more effective strategies to support the peer competence of children with disabilities. The influence of family interaction patterns should also be included in this kind of ‘translational’ research.
The working paper from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University (2011) describes how the executive function skills of controlling impulses, making plans and staying focused are necessary to guide our behaviours. The metaphor of ‘air traffic control’ is used because being able to filter distractions, focus on relevant information, and be ready to manage unanticipated problems mirrors the multiple demands of coordinating the arrival and departure of planes on multiple runways. Children’s social play is thought to be a ‘practice ground’ for the development of executive functioning skills as playing with others involves making plans, organising information and solving problems. Children’s executive functioning is also fostered by adult-child relationships that scaffold children from complete dependence on adult help to gradually ‘taking control’ and gaining independence in completing tasks. Adverse environments during the early years of life can disrupt the development of executive function skills and children with deficits in these skills often have difficulty following instructions, controlling impulses and staying on task. Early childhood educators can play an important role in recognising how delayed executive function skills are impacting on children’s behaviour and supporting children through responsive practices such as modelling, coaching and reinforcing appropriate social-emotional behaviours.
Watch the short video produced by KidsMatter on Developing children’s social and emotional skills in Topic 1 of the KidsMatter Early Childhood Professional Learning Topics. The video confirms the findings reported above on the importance of early childhood educators helping children to acquire social and emotional skills.
The Kidsmatter video and the KidsMatter (2013) document are part of an Australian initiative focused on an early childhood mental health and social and emotional development perspective. The document outlines the links between the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) and the National Quality Standard with regard to concepts related to social and emotional learning. Similar to the previous readings, the importance of secure and supportive relationships during the early years, and adult scaffolding of children’s social and emotional learning is advocated. After reading about the role of executive functioning in the previous article, you will appreciate how these skills are evident in many of the behaviours listed under the EYLF learning outcomes.  Behaviours such as self-control, flexibility to cope with change, using recollections to inform learning are dependent on the executive function skills of controlling impulses, planning and problem-solving, and working memory.
After reading the KidsMatter document, if you are working in an educational setting or if you are a parent of young children look for examples and evidence of some of the behaviours listed under each Learning Outcome and reflect on these observations and what you have learned in this topic to answer the Discussion question. If you are not currently working with or parenting a young child reflect on what you have learned from the articles in this topic to answer the question which has been adapted from the KidsMatter reflection item.
Discussion Question 1: What new information or insights did you gain from the extracts in this topic? How will you use this new knowledge or awareness to support your practice with children and families?
Assessment criteria:
Word count – 700words
Evidence of understanding of the topic and issues  /4
Directly addresses the question  /4
Topic readings used to inform and justify views/discussions  /4
Reflective, insightful comments, considering implications for practice  /4
Links to readings or professional practice in responses to peers  /4
Topic 2: Relationships and Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)
Please find all readings uploaded except the video, which you will find online using the link provided.
KidsMatter Video 2.1 Relationships as the foundation for children’s social and emotional learning. Available from http://www.kidsmatter.edu.au/early-childhood/professional-learning/developing-childrens-social-and-emotional-skills
Fox, L., Dunlap, G., Hemmeter, M.L., Joseph, G.E., & Strain, P.S. (2003). The teaching pyramid: A model for supporting social competence and preventing challenging behavior in young children. Young Children, July, 2-5.
Hemmeter, M.L., Ostrosky, M.M., & Corso, R.M. (2012). Preventing and addressing challenging behavior: Common questions and practical strategies. Young Exceptional Children, 15,2, 32-46.
Joseph, G.E. & Strain, P.S. (2004). Building positive relationships with young children. Young Exceptional Children, 7,4, 21-28.
Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing. (2012).Literature Review: Creating a sense of community. Available at: http://www.kidsmatter.edu.au/sites/default/files/public/KMEC-Component1-Literature-Review.pdf
National Scientific Council on the Developing Child. (2015). Supportive Relationships and Active Skill-Building Strengthen the Foundations of Resilience: Working paper 13. Available at: http://www.developing child.harvard.edu
Fox, L. & Lentini, R.H. (2006). “You got it”: Teaching social and emotional skills. Beyond the Journal: Young Children on the Web, November, 1-7.
This topic explores the notion of Social and Emotional Leaning (SEL). Hopefully, after reading Guralnick (2010), you will be aware that while children with delays and disabilities may have considerable deficits in social and emotional competency, their skills in these areas should not be ignored or ‘left to chance’ and can be developed. This topic describes how both ‘universal’ (i.e. school-wide or class-wide) strategies and targeted individualised interventions can be applied to either prevent or address children’s social and emotional difficulties. Thoughtful structuring of classroom activities and careful scaffolding of children’s interactions with peers is particularly beneficial for children with delays or disabilities, since everyday experiences and the actions and reactions of peers and adults have the potential to shape and nurture children’s competency and self-regulation in these areas.
Through repeated opportunities to enact social skills, through observation of appropriate role models and actions, and through positive experiences in interactions with others, children are exposed to the types of behaviours that are desired and expected. The readings in this topic cover a continuum of practices that address both explicit (direct teaching of targeted skills) and implicit (being an observer and recipient of positive behaviour) modes of learning. I suggest you commence this topic by watching the KidsMatter videos on relationships. The video provides a helpful overview of why nurturing relationships with caregivers, whether these are parents, educators or others, provide a secure foundation from which children learn to develop emotion regulation and empathy, the foundations of social interactions.
Fox et al. (2003) introduce the “Teaching Pyramid”, while Hemmeter et al. (2012) provide details about the ways in which this framework can assist preschool teachers to support and teach social skills and emotional competencies and prevent challenging behaviours. In this framework four types of strategies for supporting social competence and preventing challenging behaviour in young children are identified and represented in the shape of a pyramid. The pyramid shape is chosen as it represents the emphasis that should be given to the four components and shows how each tier of the pyramid should be built on the layer beneath. The base of the pyramid indicates the foundation of nurturing and responsive caregiving relationships and the suggestions for building positive relationships with children are particularly helpful for establishing bonds with ‘hard to reach’ children or those who are withdrawn and isolated. This level of the pyramid also refers to building productive and meaningful relationships with families. A crucial aspect when EC educators are communicating with families their concerns about a child’s behaviour is to ensure that the description of the child’s difficulties are clear and specific and that positive information about the child is also presented.
The second level of the pyramid refers to high quality supportive environments which directs a teacher’s attention to examining current teaching practices and the classroom environment and consequently structuring or re-arranging the physical classroom or routines to minimise any possible triggers for inappropriate behaviour. The third level comprises targeted social emotional supports which can be provided through class-wide explicit instruction in social-emotional skills, such as teaching children words to express their feelings and teaching social skills like sharing and turn-taking. The last level, intensive interventions, is an individualized approach which should be regarded as the ‘last resort’ and only implemented if a child’s behavioural difficulties persist after the three underlying levels have been implemented. Intensive interventions are typically based on a functional assessment to determine what a child’s behaviour is aimed at achieving. A Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) plan is then developed to assist children to learn new skills to replace the challenging behaviours they currently employ to get their needs met.
The next article provides some specific strategies for implementing Level 1of the pyramid, building positive relationships with children. Joseph and Strain (2004) describe the benefits of developing warm and caring relationships with every child, especially those who challenge you the most. The importance of ‘getting to know’ every child as an individual and remembering to praise children in constructive ways is illustrated by the three case studies at the start of the article. Children from disadvantaged backgrounds or those with delays or disability, often need to learn how to relate to a trusted adult before they can build relationships with other children. Playing with children and noticing and commenting positively about appropriate behaviours is well worth the time it takes.
The next two readings describe how warm, responsive and trusting relationships with adults can promote children’s sense of belonging and strengthen their resilience. The KidsMatter Literature Review (2012) also describes the importance of developing positive relationships between children, families and staff and encouraging families to collaborate with staff about their child’s care and development.
Finally, Fox and Lentini (2006) provide a useful list of strategies that can be used to explicitly teach children social skills such as turn-taking, sharing, following instructions etc. The Stages of Learning (p.4) describe how you can introduce and demonstrate a new skill (acquisition), give the child opportunities to practice the new skill (fluency) and encourage the child to keep using the new skill (maintenance) by praising the child and explaining the positive consequences that come from using the skill.
Topic 3: Supporting social skills through play & peer interactions
Please find all readings uploaded except the video, which you will find online using the link provided.
KidsMatter Video 2.3 Opportunities for educators to support the development of social and emotional skills. Available at: http://www.kidsmatter.edu.au/early-childhood/professional-learning/developing-childrens-social-and-emotional-skills
Jamison, K.R., Forston, L.D., Stanton-Chapman, T.L. (2012). Encouraging social skill development through play in early childhood special education classrooms.  Young Exceptional Children, 15(2), 3-18.           
Ostrosky, M.M & Meadan, H. (2010). Helping children play and learn together. Young Children, January, 104-110.
Kennedy, A. S. (2013). Supporting peer relationships and social competence in inclusive preschool programs. Young Children, November, 18- 25.
Barton, E.E. & Pavilanis, R. (2012). Teaching pretend play to young children with Autism. Young Exceptional Children, 15, 5-17.
Meadan, H., Ostrosky, M.M., Triplett, B., Michna, A., & Fettig, A. (2011). Using visual supports with young children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Council for Exceptional Children, July/August, 28-34.
This topic examines the role of play in supporting children’s social skills and increasing children’s interactions in inclusive early childhood settings. As discussed in a number of the articles, merely placing a child with disabilities in an inclusive setting, does not guarantee that the child will participate in the activities provided or spontaneously interact with other children and adults. Some children may play in isolation or passively withdraw from the majority of activities and focus solely on one desired activity, while for others “free play” can be a time when disruptive behaviour is most evident. Because play requires social skills such as sharing and turn-taking and executive function and communication skills to negotiate turns or describe pretend play, children with limited language and delayed executive function and social skills may struggle to initiate and maintain successful interactions with peers. As discussed in previous topics, it is important to assess overall child development and the instructional climate as well as carefully observing and recording the antecedents and consequences associated with instances of challenging (externalising) or withdrawn (internalising) behaviours in order to understand what it is that children may be attempting to obtain (e.g. join in play) or avoid (e.g. picking up toys).
Again, before reading the articles in this topic I suggest you watch the KidsMatter Video2.3 Opportunities for educators to support the development of social and emotional skills which explains not only why fostering peer interactions is beneficial for all children but particularly important for children who lack the necessary social skills to interact peacefully with peers.
Jamison et al. (2012) provide a range of suggestions for supporting children with disabilities to develop more complex play through increasing opportunities for joint attention and social proximity to peers, while Ostrosky and Meadan (2010) describe strategies linked to each level of the teaching pyramid that are aimed at promoting children’s social skills and increasing peer interactions. They recommend structuring the physical environment and arranging resources to encourage paired or group play, directly teaching targeted social skills and providing positive, but non-intrusive, reinforcement for engaging in social interactions.
Kennedy (2013) describes social difficulties that are commonly encountered in inclusive preschool classrooms and emphasises the importance of looking for possible explanations when children exhibit what seem to be challenging or withdrawn behaviours. A range of teaching strategies to promote social competence are provided. The research evidence reveals that after explicitly teaching particular skills teachers should provide positive guidance as children participate in ‘natural’ activities throughout the day, e.g. using a song at group time to teach the class about inviting others to play and then following the children to the free play activities and providing prompts or modelling for those who need additional support. Kennedy cautions that results can take weeks or even months of teacher coaching and that consistent monitoring is required as once peer interactions start to increase, there could be a need to teach conflict resolution skills. The next two articles focus on children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Many children with ASD have difficulties with verbal communication. Communication impairments may include receptive language difficulties, that is, difficulty understanding what others say to them, or expressive language difficulties, that is, difficulties in using speech to say what they like or don’t like, how they feel etc.
Barton and Pavilanis (2012) explain why interventions to promote play, and especially pretend play, is such a critical intervention for young children with autism. As well as being fun, play is an important medium through which young children interact and learn social skills such as sharing and taking turns. Barton and Pavilanis provide a useful table (p.7) which outlines the types and sequences of pretend play. Children typically commence pretend play by using objects in a ‘functional’ way but in an ‘imagined’ context e.g. feeding a doll with a plastic bottle. Next comes object substitution where one object is used to represent a different function, e.g. using a comb as a telephone. As children develop the capacity for abstract representation they no longer need an actual object to engage in pretend play, e.g. holding their hand to their ear to indicate they are talking on the phone and then handing the ‘pretend phone’ to a peer. The next stage is assigning imagined ‘attributes’ to objects or others, e.g. saying the (pretend) food is hot, the dolly is crying. The use of ‘least prompts’ is recommended to teach play skills to children with ASD who may often be content to play alone. An important first step is securing the child’s attention and contingent imitation is an effective technique to use with children who are at the stage of solitary play and are uninterested in interacting with adults or peers. Contingent imitation means engaging in parallel play by sitting next to the child and exactly imitating what the child is doing. By following the child’s lead the adult indicates they are attending to the child’s play and this creates a ‘conversational framework’ in which the child’s play can gradually be ‘prompted.’
Finally, Meadan et al. (2011) describe how visual supports can be used to enhance comprehension and help children with ASD participate in learning and play activities and daily routines. Visual supports can be real objects, photos, simple drawings or even words. A range of different types of visual supports and their functions are described including visual schedules to help children anticipate daily activities, symbols to structure the environment, visual scripts to promote children’s social skills, rule reminders to model behavioural expectations and visual task analyses to facilitate children completing tasks independently.
Discussion Question 2 With reference to the articles in Topics 2 and 3 Discuss why social and emotional skills are so important and describe how early educators can promote children’s social and emotional skills and support peer interactions among children with and without additional needs.
Assessment criteria:
Word count – 700words
Evidence of understanding of the topic and issues  /4
Directly addresses the question  /4
Topic readings used to inform and justify views/discussions  /4
Reflective, insightful comments, considering implications for practice  /4
Links to readings or professional practice in responses to peers  /4
Topic 4: Positive Behaviour Support
Jolivette, K. & Steed, E.A. (2010).  Classroom management strategies for young children with challenging behavior within early childhood settings. NHSA Dialog, 13(3), 198-213.
Benedict, E.A., Horner, R.H. & Squires, J.K. (2007). Assessment and implementation of Positive Behaviour Support in preschools. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 27(3), 174-192.
Coleman, J.C., Crosby, M.G., Irwin, H.K., Dennis, L.R., Simpson, C.G., & Rose, C.A. (2012). Preventing challenging behaviours in preschool: Effective strategies for classroom teachers. Young Exceptional Children, 16,3, 3-10.
Drogan, R.R. & Kern, L. (2014). Examination of the mechanisms underlying effectiveness of the turtle technique. Topics in Early Childhood Education, 33(4), 237-248.
Tucker Turtle Social Story available from: http://csefel.vanderbilt.edu/resources/strategies.html
A number of articles in this and later topics refer to the Head Start program conducted in the USA. Head Start aims to give children coming from poor and disadvantaged backgrounds access to early childhood education in order to increase the performance and success of these children at school, since typically they perform below children coming from more privileged backgrounds. While the program initially focused primarily on teaching children ‘school-readiness’ skills such as pre-literacy and pre-numeracy concepts, the increased frequency of behaviour problems in the Head Start population focused attention on the need to address children’s language and social skills, since it was often deficits in these areas that caused children to exhibit challenging behaviour. As well as decreasing challenging behaviour, a focus on SEL in early childhood eases children’s transition to school and increases their receptiveness to learning. Teachers often tend to neglect teaching social and emotional skills and instead of regarding instances of conflict among children as teaching opportunities, tend to blame or punish children who do not ‘conform’ to desirable and expected standards of behaviour. That is why the focus of Positive Behaviour Support is on Supporting children to demonstrate Positive Behaviour by teaching them to replace their ‘negative behaviour’ with new skills that they have learned through explicit teaching, modelling, practice and reinforcement.
Jolivette and Steed (2010) describe a variety of inclusive classroom management practices including ways to teach behaviour expectations, the use of positive reinforcement, precorrection and group contingencies, and providing opportunities for children to make choices.
Benedict et al. (2007) investigated the use of universal Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) practices in 15 US preschools, six providing inclusive education and the other nine were Head Start or special education classrooms. In this study, the Preschool-wide Evaluation Tool (Pre-SET) was used to evaluate the extent to which teachers implemented nine universal PBS practices. These included: positively stated rules in both picture and written forms; posted classroom schedules; a matrix of behavioural expectations for classroom routines (e.g. free play, snack time); warnings prior to transitions; transition signals; teacher precorrection (e.g. ‘remember to use your walking feet’); a ratio of 4 positive to 1 negative statement; an acknowledgment system (e.g. commenting on a child who is sitting appropriately); and specific verbal praise (given immediately following a desired behaviour e.g. “You were a nice friend to share with Eva”). Results revealed that only 31% of these practices were being implemented and there was no measurable improvement in child behaviour during the study period. The importance of more consistent use of PBS practices is recommended as well as teacher professional development and a program-wide application of universal as well as secondary and tertiary interventions. Also see: www.pbis.org (p.176).
Coleman et al. (2012) use a case study of “Warren” and “Mrs Daniels” to illustrate how many of the universal PBS practices described by Benedict et al. (2007) CAN be implemented effectively in a preschool classroom. As described in Jolivette and Steed (2010) establishing class rules and explicitly defining and teaching behavioural expectations is a good way to ensure that the rules are understood by everyone. Making the rules visible, attaching pictures and reviewing them with children at the start of every day means that there is ongoing teaching for children who take longer to learn and a useful ‘reminder’ for every child. Examining existing classroom practices is an essential feature of Level 2 of the Teaching Pyramid and some examples of how classroom transitions can be modified in general ways for the whole class are provided along with some suggestions for ‘individualised’ approaches if Warren does not respond to the ‘universal’ strategy. Positive reinforcement is an important component to encourage children who lack appropriate social skills to practice and maintain the new skills they are learning. Coleman et al. (2012, p. 7) present some examples of the same four types of positive reinforcement described by Jolivette and Steed (2010), that is, verbal, gestural, social and tangible. Delayed language skills or communication problems are often a cause of challenging behavior. Children who are unable to get their message across with words, may resort to physical actions to indicate what they want or don’t want. Interpreting the ‘function’ of a child’s behavior is discussed further in the next article and the next topic.
Finally, Drogan and Kern (2014) describe the use of the Turtle Technique to assist children to develop self-control. I have included a link to a powerpoint version of the Turtle Technique social story. The technique teaches children to recognize and control their emotions through a three step process: stop; calm and problem solve. Drogan and Kern describe the impact of explicit teaching and modelling of the technique on three 3-4 year old children in a private pre-school. While all three children showed a decrease in problem behavior following the explicit teaching, the children were not observed implementing any of the overt behaviours associated with the technique – such as tucking their heads and crossing their arms (imitating a turtle going into its shell) or tapping their forehead to indicate the thinking and problem-solving stage. The authors suggest that the children may have ‘internalised’ the messages or that the teachers may have started using more preventive strategies as a result of being more aware of ‘triggers’ to children’s emotional outbursts.
Note that in this article, teaching social-emotional skills is referred to as a “Tier 2” strategy, while teaching social and emotional skills is illustrated as a “Level 3” strategy in Fox et al.’s pyramid. This is because Levels 1 and 2 of the teaching pyramid (i.e., nurturing and responsive care-giving relationships and a supportive environment) constitute the “primary” (or Tier 1) approach to promoting appropriate behavior and these strategies should be applied universally – that is, with all children in a classroom. A ‘secondary’ or “Tier 2” approach involves the explicit teaching of social and emotional skills and is usually implemented to prevent problem behavior. Tier 2 strategies may be applied across the whole classroom or with specific groups of children. Finally Tier 3 refers to interventions that are typically designed for individual students. The Response to Intervention approach described by Fox et al. (2010) in Topic 5 explains the relationships in the levels of the pyramids in more detail.
Discussion Question 3:
The articles in this topic examine the implementation of a range of Positive Behaviour Supports including pre-correction and teaching behaviour expectations and adjusting classroom routines such as transitions. Describe how you can (or have) implemented some of these universal strategies and specify what type of positive reinforcement you used (or would use) to acknowledge positive behavior. With reference to the readings reflect on what problems or benefits you found (or teachers may find) when using these strategies.
Assessment criteria:
Word count – 700words
Evidence of understanding of the topic and issues  /4
Directly addresses the question  /4
Topic readings used to inform and justify views/discussions  /4
Reflective, insightful comments, considering implications for practice  /4
Links to readings or professional practice in responses to peers  /4

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