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Negotiating the Three Phases of the School Year

Phase I, Separation and Attachment, Phase II, Autonomy, and Phase III, Mastery, are linear. They are also interwoven into each other. Just like child development, children can and will move back and forth between phases. A teacher can assume, for example, that some of her classmates will slip back into Phase I after a school break or an illness. When this happens, teachers need to have a bag of tricks, or resources, if you will, to help move the children back through the other phases. Here are some suggestions for how to do this:

  • Use family photos photo books to help children talk about the caregivers they miss.

  • Use a schedule, created with pictures or other images, to help children understand the day’s schedule.

  • Verbally remind children that they are capable of doing X or Y task, one they were able to do before.

  • Slow your pace so that you are able to emotionally comfort the child.

  • Reduce or eliminate unnecessary transitions.

The best trick is to anticipate that a class may need extra support at various points in the school year. With anticipation comes the opportunity to provide support and guidance to parents too, as they negotiate the three phases.

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