Imagine feeling free to try new things and explore, then being able to come back in for reassurance, support, and anything else you needed before you set back out again. Knowing that no matter what you did, or where you went, there was always that safe base for you to come back home, too.
In short, the above example is the Circle of Security Classroom (COSP-C™) approach. When teachers and childcare providers enact this strategy, they continue to build loving, supportive bonds so children can thrive.
As an organization that’s dedicated the past 25 years to creating communities of thriving children, Nebraska Children and Families Foundation is on board with this mission! Thanks to our team of Early Childhood mental health experts, we can continue to invite educators and childcare providers into the circle.
Sami Bradley, Nebraska Children’s Assistant Vice President of Early Childhood Mental Health, is one of the COSP-C™ facilitators. Regarding the importance of this programming, Sami said that the long-term benefits abound.
“The approach is designed to enhance teachers’ abilities to form secure relationships and offers critical organizing principles from attachment theory to improve relationship-building confidence and competence,” she said.
It’s no secret that teachers and providers have the most challenging and important job there is. Every single day, these professionals are responsible for engaging, educating, and loving our littlest and most important members of our society, who in turn grow up to be its leaders.
COSP-C™ supports teachers, center-based providers, and in-home providers to strengthen relationships with the children in their care.
Best of all, there’s support available to offer classes in Nebraska for childcare providers like Marcela Arredondo.
“I understand children’s needs more easily with [COSP-C™],” said Marcela. “When [a child] wants to explore, they’re inviting me, saying, ‘Come on, explore with me!’” An important part of the model is that children go out on the circle to explore, and then come back to an adult they trust when they need help organizing their feelings, being comforted, or just being held.
Nebraska Children and Families Foundation’s initiative Rooted in Relationships (RiR) along with a leadership team supports COSP Parenting and Classroom™ statewide. Currently, they are working with the Nebraska Association for the Education of Young Children through the Nebraska Preschool Development Grant to offer 12 approved hours for providers and a $300 stipend for completing this 8-week program.
Marcela said that although her work is sometimes challenging, the program helped her continue to do a wonderful job of enhancing her bonds with children.
“I can understand the children’s needs more easily with these classes; I can help the children more and figure out what they’re thinking. I can see them; I can be there for them,” she said.
Overall, Marcela said she loves the classes.
“I feel [creating secure attachments] is important for the kids,” she said. “They’re at the age where they’re learning. If they start learning in these early years, their learning time will be easier,” she said.
Marcela said that the program emphasized how engaging children can help them excel academically, too.
“They learn A LOT playing, and they can learn more things academically. When they’ll be [in] school, things will be easier for them,” she said.
COSP-C has also proven invaluable for center-based providers, including Jayne Hogeland, the Director of Under the Umbrella Day Care. The Alma, Nebraska-based provider said that the classes were beneficial because they tugged at her heartstrings and created relevance in her personal and professional life.
“I thought [the program] was very helpful,” said Jayne. “[COSP-C™] made me think about my own family, too,” she said.
As a childcare provider for over 20 years, Jayne said that the classes served as a reminder to revisit children’s delicate emotional landscapes.
“I’ve worked here a long time; for twenty-something years!” she said. “[The program] made me take a breath and think about feelings and making that connection with the kids. It was a good reminder for me how important those things are.”
Jayne said that she appreciated the facilitator’s mindful program facilitation.
“The facilitator knows how to lead us; I gained the most from the discussions,” said Jayne.
Jayne said she’s reminded of the Circle of Security’s importance in her everyday life and the essence of inviting every child into it. “It reminded me how important it is to make that contact with every child here, even the loners. That Circle, [going out and coming in,] is where they thrive and grow.”
Jayne practices the lessons learned. Over time, she said that she sees positive results throughout the children in her care.
“I KNOW it’s important to connect with every kid and make them feel loved and secure, but sometimes you don’t take the time to go that extra mile to ensure that little girl in the corner has someone to play with,” she said.
Jayne said that she takes an important message from the COSP-C™ classes. “Slow down and take care of what’s important.”
“As a director, I’m always worried about who’s calling in sick, or not coming in, and I get so involved that I forget the true job, and the true job is the kids.”
Speaking of the children who attend Under the Umbrella Day Care, Jayne’s experienced success since attending the 8-week program.
“We have a little girl right now, and I think we talked about her in [COSP-C™] class. She’s sweet but extremely shy; she’ll sit back and watch everybody else play. It’s been a challenge to get her secure enough. We talked about how much she’s grown since September!” said Jayne.
“She’s starting to interact with the other kids. We’d encourage another little girl to ask [the shyer one] to play; she’d be standoffish, but we kept working with her, going back with another child to ask her to play with a puzzle.”
Jayne said that after some time and effort, she and her staff saw the little girl beginning to form connections with her peers!
“One bit at a time, she made a connection with another little girl who was sweet to her!” said Jayne. “We encouraged the two to play together!”
Also, although lunch was once anxiety-inducing for the girl, Jayne said that she’s gradually feeling secure enough to eat with everyone!
“She’s getting comfortable enough to eat the lunch!” said Jayne. “She used to say she had a tummy ache. She’s starting to interact. It’s baby steps, but they’ve led to her being a happier child. She talks to me now quite a bit! She’s come a long, long way,” she said.
These stories, however, are also backed by expertise and research. Over the last 25 years, a growing body of studies has shown that children who maintain secure and close attachments with their caregivers tend to thrive academically, undertake challenges, and emotionally regulate.
One important aspect of the COSP-C™ approach supports both teacher and child well-being. “When we put the relationships first, with children (and teachers), [they] do thrive,” Sami said.
Sami said COSP-C™ sets itself apart from the other programs.
“COSP-C™ is different than other models, as it allows teachers to step back and reflect on what they are seeing with the children they care for, and on their own reactions as well,” she said.
Sami shared COSP-C™ outcomes include exploring caregivers’ pivotal roles in positively impacting their students’ learning. Participants learn how to implement the Circle graphic to interpret behavior and attachment needs.
Finally, Sami said that the program allows teachers and providers to continue to enhance their ability to reflect on themselves and their children.
“Children need a place where they’re thriving,” she said. “If they have that connection with teachers or caregivers, then they feel secure. If a child is left out, that can affect their outcome in life. Having that security means so much [regarding] how they feel about themselves and their confidence.”
Ultimately, Jayne said she values the long-term benefits of promoting secure bonds with children, and the effects influence generations to come.
“They can learn to control their tempers and outbursts from repeatedly consistent love and nurturing! They become the leaders in our community; they can make the right decisions,” she said.
We couldn’t agree more. Learn more.