From paper to practice: educator understanding and facilitation of self-regulation in the kindergarten classroom
Burgess, Casey C.
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There is growing concern about the mental health and resilience of today’s students (McCain, Mustard, and Shanker, 2007) and difficulties with self-regulation as part of human development are implicated in educational outcomes, cognitive problems, internalizing problems such as depression and anxiety, externalizing problems such as aggression, and physical health problems (McCain et al, 2007; Shanker, 2010). Self-regulation is a growing topic of interest in a variety of disciplines including education. With over 42 961 peer reviewed journal articles which use the term “self-regulation”, it is not surprising that there are 447 different interpretations of what self-regulation means in the literature (Burman et al., 2015), which makes it difficult for educators to interpret and apply it in their respective classrooms. Due to recent advances in neuroscience, the Ontario Ministry of Education shifted towards a neurophysiological framework on the Self-Regulation and Well-Being Frame of the Kindergarten Program. The current study examined which frameworks kindergarten educators were using by analyzing the ways they described and facilitated self-regulation in the classroom within a school board in northern Ontario through surveys, interviews, progress reports, and classroom observations. Findings revealed that educators: have little experience and training with resources aligned with the Kindergarten Program’s approach to self-regulation, describe self-regulation as self-control, and facilitate self-regulation using a learning strategies approach. Educators were observed using fewer than a third of ministry self-regulation recommendations in the classroom. Implications and recommendations for aligning educator practices with the Kindergarten Program’s framework are discussed, including the limitations of pre-packaged programs currently in use and the advantages of adopting a neurophysiological approach to understanding self-regulation.