Children learn any number of skills at the preschool age --
getting dressed on their own, riding a tricycle, or using crayons. But what about
their behavior and emotions?
Early childhood educators have embraced the Teaching
Pyramid, a research- and evidence-based framework that promotes social and
emotional competence in young children. It emphasizes the promotion of positive
behaviors and the prevention of challenging behaviors. Early intervention and
"teaching" rather than "telling" are key components.
When a young child is acting out -- showing challenging
behavior -- the adult needs to ask, “Who is the ‘challenging behavior’
"It's challenging the adult," says Karen Matsuda,
a QPI early education specialist with the San Diego County Office of Education
"In preschool, a child acts out because he wants
something, is trying to get away from someone or something, or it's an
emotional expression," Matsuda says. "Children have to recognize
emotion in themselves before they can recognize it in other children, so that
they have empathy, not just sympathy. We're building character in
The Teaching Pyramid framework was developed by the Center
on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning and enhanced for
California by WestEd. The framework emphasizes strong relationships, support
for social and emotional competence, and the prevention of challenging
behaviors, and promotes belonging for all young children.
When early childhood educators are trained in the Teaching
Pyramid, preschoolers demonstrate greater emotional literacy, social
competence, and fewer behavioral challenges.
Teachers are trained to promote the social-emotional
development of young children using preventive strategies and to recognize the
need for more intensive interventions when children have significant
social-emotional needs and challenging behavior.
"This is all about teaching, not telling or giving
recipes for how to change children," Matsuda says. "And it's for one
reason: children's success."
In San Diego County, SDCOE has 11 authorized Teaching
Pyramid trainer-coaches. Thirteen QPI agencies around the county have
implemented or are getting started on the Teaching Pyramid framework, including
Child Development Associates, MAAC Head Start, Children's Paradise, Grossmont
College, Lemon Grove School District, and Escondido Union School District. Also
taking part are Episcopal Community Services Head Start, South Bay Union School
District, YMCA, Cajon Valley Union School District, La Mesa-Spring Valley
School District, San Ysidro School District, and Chula Vista Elementary School District.