Free Online Courses for Infant & Early Childhood Care Providers on Social-Emotional Competence

The courses were designed using the evidence-based Pyramid Model for Social Emotional Competence in Infants and Young Children which promotes and supports infant and early childhood mental health and the social emotional development of all children.

Course Titles

  • Building Relationships and Creating Supportive Environments
  • Social and Emotional Assessment and Targeted Social Emotional Strategies
  • Intensive Interventions

The courses were designed using the evidence-based Pyramid Model for Social Emotional Competence in Infants and Young Children which promotes and supports infant and early childhood mental health and the social emotional development of all children. As reflected in these three courses, the Pyramid Model takes a tiered public health approach to providing universal supports to all children to develop social emotional skills, targeted supports to those at risk, and intensive interventions for those who need them. All supported by an effective workforce, receiving training and coaching to support these practices in their settings. These self-paced interactive courses are rich with user-friendly training materials, videos, and print resources.

The first course, Building Relationships and Creating Supportive Environments, introduces the Pyramid Model, explores the relationship between challenging behavior and social emotional development, examines our attitudes about challenging behavior, and builds positive relationships between children and families. Adults interacting with children in a range of settings within diverse disciplines, including early intervention providers, early educators, families, and other professionals, gain new insight to the meaning behind challenging behavior and how to address it appropriately.

The second course, Social and Emotional Assessment and Targeted Social Emotional Strategies, provides information on implementing effective social emotional teaching strategies within the classroom. These strategies help infants and toddlers learn to express emotions appropriately, solve problems, and build friendships. Participants learn why teaching social emotional skills is important, when it is appropriate, which skills to teach, and how to teach them.

The last course in the series, Intensive Interventions, provides information on implementing individualized interventions for children who do not respond to regular intervention strategies implemented in the classroom. Most children will not need this level of support although some children need extra attention and individualized plans to support them to acquire the skills of self-regulation and positive peer and adult interaction. Participants learn to identify the functions of challenging behavior, how family trauma can impact a child’s expression of behavior, how to implement a behavior support plan, and how to support their team through the Pyramid Model during these scenarios in their classroom.

Behavioral Health Resources for Back to School

As we see students and educators head back into the classroom and restart the in-person learning routine, the Department of Health (DOH) is providing behavioral health tips and resources for navigating the emotional responses that children, teens, and adults may experience during this exciting and stressful time.

The COVID-19 Back-to-Classroom THINK Toolbox is a resource to help with adjusting to the return of in-person school and learning. THINK, which stands for Teaching with Healthcare Informed Neurological strategies for Kids, is a toolbox with information to help school-age children and teens deal with the emotional impacts of COVID-19, and tips on how to build and maintain resilience and practice self-care during a disaster.

“Children and teens are uniquely affected by the pandemic,” says Dr. Kira Mauseth, co-lead for the behavioral health strike team at the Department of Health. “Children and youth process information differently than adults. They need different structures in place to support them through disasters and large transitions, such as promoting recovery in the classroom, and return to back-to-classroom education. The THINK Toolbox was developed to address these areas and some of the trauma and stress that we’ve all experienced as a result of the pandemic.”

Increased anxiety, acting out, and behavioral regression at home or at school are some of the behavioral health responses that parents, caregivers and teachers are likely to see or encounter in students this fall. Also be aware of “red flag behaviors” such as suicidal thinking or expression (talking about it), violence, and aggression – these behaviors will require more or additional professional support. For children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), they are twice as likely to experience more intense and more frequent behavior problems during the pandemic.

As schools are now open for in-person learning, ‘back to classroom’ education and recovery for students is also underway. When promoting recovery in the classroom, it is important to remember that some students come from groups that have been more severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

With this in mind, encouraging and building resilience for students is key! Activities that facilitate cooperation and communication, and helping children and youth develop self-efficacy (their belief in their ability to achieve a goal) are very important aspects for resilience in the classroom. Activities that also provide structure, consistency and the opportunity to contribute should also be strongly emphasized.

“As a parent and a physician, I know that in-person learning is hugely beneficial to children’s overall well-being,” says Umair Shah, MD, MPH, Secretary of Health. “In-person interaction helps ensure equitable access to education for all students. The work we do now to keep them safe will, in the long term, lead to a brighter and healthier future for our kids.”

Teachers, coaches, school staff, mentors, parents, and caregivers are also at risk for additional anxiety right now. For these groups, practicing self-care in the ways that specifically work for them, is the best medicine. More than ever, patience and compassion are required right now.

Additional Resources:

Home for the Holidays: The Gift of Positive Behavior Support

Holidays can be challenging for families impacted by disability, trauma, grief, economic struggles, and other stressors. Holiday season 2020 has its own flavors of confusion. Families with children who struggle with behavior may want to head into the winter with plans in place. Anticipating where trouble could bubble up and developing a strategy for working it out provides all family members with opportunities for social-emotional growth, mindfulness, and rich moments.

PAVE consulted with a University of Washington (UW) expert in positive behavior supports to provide insight and information for this article. Kelcey Schmitz is the school mental health lead for the Northwest Mental Health Technology Transfer Center, housed at the UW School Mental Health Research and Training (SMART) Center. An area of expertise for Schmitz is Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS), a framework for schools to support children’s academic, social, emotional, and behavioral strengths and needs at multiple levels. An MTSS framework makes room for Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS). When done well, PBIS teaches and reinforces positive social skills, communication strategies and “restorative justice” (working it out instead of punishing).

“This holiday season may present additional challenges given the pandemic,” Schmitz says. “Families, like educators, need to go back to the basics during times of stress and uncertainty. Remembering core features of PBIS at home, such as predictability, consistency, safety, and positive interactions are going to be key. In fact, lessons learned during stay-at-home orders during the pandemic can and will carry us through the holidays and beyond. Never before have routines, regulation, relationships, and reinforcement been more important for everyone in the family than they will be this winter.”

Schmitz has provided articles and content to support PAVE families over the years and offers the following tips for navigating the holidays by using PBIS strategies at home.

Read the full article from PAVE.