renee pena lopez

Creating a Supportive and Inclusive Environment for Children in Your Classroom

In this episode of the Preschool Podcast, we chat with Renee Pena Lopez, Early Childhood Intervention Specialist and owner of The Magic of Littles. Renee shares with us how educators can create a supportive and inclusive classroom and shares with us the importance of modelling as an educator or parent.

What Can Early Childhood Educators do to Create a Supportive and Inclusive Classroom?

Get to know all of your children. Understand the children’s needs and what they need to work on. Get to know the families and listen to their concerns. What their concerns are won’t be reflected in the paperwork you’re getting. What one child and family wants/needs may not be what another child or family wants and needs. Each child and each family has their own diverse wants and needs.

Model Language for Children. Children are not born with all the tools and language they need to express their wants and needs. By modeling to them as an adult you are providing them with tools, language, and space for them to express their true selves. This can show your vulnerable side as well which, will create a more inclusive environment in turn. For example “I feel frustrated when I’m working really hard on a project and it doesn’t come out how I’d like it to…do you ever feel this way?” This is an open invitation for children to express their emotions and relate to you as an educator.

Don’t Take it Personally. Challenging behavior does not have to do with you as an educator or a person at all. Whatever the trigger may be to a child, it should not be taken personally as an attack against you.

Put the Child First. It can be difficult having children enter your classroom and immediately become dysregulated. Allowing children time to settle in before the parent leaves or the classroom leaves for their scheduled outdoor time is crucial. By giving children this moment to settle in (even if it means throwing off your schedule as a classroom or a parent!) they can begin to trust you as an educator and families will be able to see that you are providing a supportive environment for all children.

As teachers sometimes we want to step in and help parents all the time bu,t our job is to foster the parent and the child and so, giving the parent the opportunity and space to help their child regulate is important.

Renee Pena Lopez, The Preschool Podcast

The Importance of Modelling in the Classroom

Modeling is often referred to as a phrase that children can use later on to help them in situations where they may not be sure how to enter. For example, if a child is trying to enter play with another child or group of children, they may interject and interrupt the play between the group. As an educator, we can provide sample phrases for children to use to enter play in a peaceful and inviting way the next time. This way you will empower the child to learn a new skill to use independently the next time they want to enter play.

Want to connect with Renee? Check out her website, Instagram, podcast and, Facebook Group to learn more about her services and workshops!

Episode 264 transcripts coming soon.

Kiah Price

Kiah Price is a Social Media Specialist at HiMama. Prior to HiMama she was an Early Childhood Educator in a preschool classroom in Toronto. She is the Jill of all trades at HiMama from dipping her toes in Sales, Customer Success, Operations, and Marketing! She enjoys sweating through spin classes, hot yoga, and biking along the waterfront trails in Toronto. She loves traveling and trying new foods and wines across the globe- 29 countries and counting!

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