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01st March 2022

Building Resilience in Preschool

What is resilience?

Resilience helps us to manage and deal with difficult or unpleasant situations such as stress, traumas, threats and tragedy. Children have never needed resilience than they do at the minute with their experiences of the pandemic and what they may have heard over the uncertainties in Eastern Europe.

How can we build resilience in preschool?

We can help children build their own resilience through play and caring relationships.

In our preschool we always say children ‘learn through play.’ Helping resilience to grow in each and every child can happen through play too.

Free play is a self-directed uninterrupted process, often driven by children’s own interests and curiosity where children can explore, discover and test limits at their own pace under their own steam. They take and manage their own risks, set up their own challenges, develop and learn new strategies on how to manage situations, relationships and experiences. They become masters of their own environment and creators of their own world, having control over what is going on and learning the skills needed to deal with other people’s reactions and behaviour while engaging in this world. Guided play where an adult or peer is involved can also scaffold children’s understanding and expand their opportunities while interacting with others. They actively learn about turn taking, following instructions, creating bonds, various behaviours, action/reaction, dealing with emotions and much more.

The building blocks for resilience are right there in play. When they are playing, they are building the core skills that is needed, becoming more confident in their own abilities and competence, making connections with their peers and adults in the preschool, developing their own characters, learning how to cope in different situations, making a contribution to play and having control over what happens. Play helps children cope with stress, especially when coupled with a key person such as a parent, a familiar face at preschool or friend. These nurturing relationships support resilience building and they can play alongside the child helping them to explore situations the child may find difficult to understand. Adults can also offer reassurance, reminding children of boundaries and supporting conflict resolution if needed.

One day a child was seen putting a chunky screw up another child’s nose, we asked what they were doing and they told us “it’s a Covid testing centre”. They weren’t hurting each other, but trying to make sense of what they had experienced during the pandemic through their role play games. Their resilience will be developing through these interactions together, going over what they had been through and trying to make connections in their understandings.

We often see children making guns with duplo or other construction toys (or fingers), we don’t stop this type of play as it can have a purpose. At the moment children might have seen on TV or heard you talk about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. They can help themselves to understand the events by acting out in role play, along with their homemade guns comes a sense of power. Gunplay is a social experience too, cooperating with their peers, resolving conflicts, developing empathy and controlling negative emotions. The importance of self-regulation often deepens through this type of play too, helping things become clearer in their heads.

By helping children build their resilience through play and playful experiences we are allowing them to navigate and understand the struggles of everyday life, giving them the ability to manage their own coping strategies for any challenges they may face in the future.

What people say about us

"Since joining the Nursery my daughter has developed in so many ways. She is more confident and balanced and looks forward to going into nursery everyday." Parent of Child
“Thank you so much for the past year and a half. From day one of me being in bits about potty training you have always offered so much help and support.” Parent of Child
"Because of you I will always have the memory of the time my child showed me he could put on his own coat and shoes himself. The pride in his face I will never forget." Parent of Child
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