OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

New book from OSU expert shows teachers, parents how to help preschoolers thrive

09/21/2015

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Teachers and parents of preschoolers have a new resource from Oregon State University professor Megan McClelland and OSU graduate Shauna Tominey, whose new book demonstrates how to help 3-to-6-year-olds flourish during their formative years.

Much of McClelland’s research focuses on the important role of self-regulation skills – the social and emotional skills that help children pay attention, follow directions, stay on task, form healthy friendships and persist through difficulty. Children with stronger self-regulation are more likely to do well in school and graduate from college compared to children with weaker self-regulation.

“Stop, Think, Act: Integrating Self-regulation in the Early Childhood Classroom,” (Routledge) is a guide to help preschool teachers and parents understand self-regulation and help children ages 3-6 build those skills through developmentally appropriate games, songs and more. 

Recent research by McClelland and her colleagues has found that these types of activities can significantly improve children’s self-regulation and early academic achievement skills.

McClelland, the Katherine E. Smith Healthy Children and Families Professor in Human Development and Family Sciences at OSU, and Tominey, an associate research scientist and the director of Early Childhood Programming and Teacher Education at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, wrote the book in an effort to meet increasing demands for information about self-regulation and the activities that boost it. 

“Teachers, and parents, too, are desperate for resources to help support young children,” McClelland said. “This book offers practical tools and activities you can do with your children at home or in the classroom.”

The book offers early childhood education teachers the latest research, a wide variety of hands-on activities to help children learn and practice self-regulation techniques, as well as tips and tools for integrating those activities into early learning settings.

But “Stop, Think, Act” also would be useful for parents of children ages 3-6 who are looking for ways to help prepare their children for schools, said McClelland, a nationally-recognized expert in child development. 

“The kids love playing the games,” she said. “There are some key elements, but you can play them in lots of different ways.”

One game is “Red Light, Purple Light,” which is similar to “Red Light, Green Light.” The teacher or leader serves as a stoplight, holding up construction-paper circles to represent stop and go. Children follow color cues, such as purple is stop and orange is go, and then switched to the opposite, where purple is go and orange is stop. 

Additional rules are added later to increase the complexity of the game. The game requires children to listen and remember instructions, pay attention to the adult leading the game and resist impulses to stop or go.

“It’s about helping the children practice better control,” McClelland said. “The games help them learn to stop, think and then act.”  

College of Public Health and Human Sciences

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