The anxiety and stress brought on by the pandemic has resurfaced the greater need for mental health support across age groups—including preschoolers. According to a recent article in The 19th, an independent nonprofit news organization, mental health support in preschool may also help lower expulsion rates.
“Every child puts the stress of their family and their community in a backpack and in their lunchbox and takes it to childcare,” Walter Gilliam, director of the Edward Zigler Center in Child Development & Social Policy at Yale University told The 19th. “And the childcare provider has to manage that, too.”
Recognizing these challenges, Child’s Path has been proactive in providing resources and tools to help work through trauma, anxiety, and stress that children may be bringing into the classroom.
In fact, long before Covid-19, Child’s Path began partnering with mental health treatment provider David Lawrence Centers. Through DLC’s Second Step Program, Child’s Path children are taught many social-emotional skills—essentially how to manage their emotions, have empathy, and solve problems. These skills are critical to preschoolers, who may have an emotional outburst because don’t have the language or skills to express themselves.
Child’s Path teachers also receive separate trauma training for the classroom, as well as access to resources and other services to assist children and their families faced with a spectrum of mental health issues. For example, if a child becomes aggressive in the classroom, a teacher will show the child how to handle the situation differently next time. This may be in the form of asking open-ended questions, practicing breathing exercises, and/or showing the child a chart of different feelings and talking them through it. Every child and situation are unique, and Child’s Path teachers have a variety of tools to work with when helping children develop coping skills for their specific circumstance.
As one of the largest providers of early learning for underserved families in Collier County, Child’s Path is committed to providing a brighter path for children. In fact, 83 percent of its children who were entering kindergarten tested “kindergarten ready”—far above the Florida readiness rate of 53 percent. Without the tuition assistance Child’s Path provides with its Bright Paths scholarships, many local children would not have access to critical early learning and the mental health support to thrive in the classroom and at home.