Continuity of Care
FSA’s early care and education philosophy embraces the concept of “Continuity of Care”. Continuity of Care recognizes the primary need for children to build strong, intimate, trusting relationships with the important people in their life. These connections are essential to a child’s healthy growth and brain development. Children need deep connections with caregivers to foster attachment security, stability and familiarity. All the learning and loving as a child grows to an adult is built on these early attachments with the primary people in a child’s life. At FSA we place children in a group care and learning environment that is not based upon chronological age or a scheduled preschool year timeline. Infants, toddlers and preschool age children are assigned a primary caregiver upon enrollment and they will continue this relationship until the child moves from the infant to preschool license or leaves FSA for first grade.
Years of Child Development research and studies on brain development have found that keeping children in a consistent environment with a primary caregiver leads to attachment security and is related to a child’s development of self-confidence and social competence. Children who are in emotionally secure relationships early in life have been found to have greater self-confidence and to be more socially competent at older ages than children who are insecure in their attachment relationships. Self-confidence and social competence are the building blocks to help children adapt to kindergarten and lead to success in school and life.
Young children who are continuously moved to different classrooms and placed with continuously changing caregivers are in a constant state of disequilibrium. They spend time having to build trust, make sense of their changed world and will grieve for their beloved caregiver. Too many changes, especially for children under 36 months can lead to reluctance to from new relationships, stress, confusion and disruption.
“When children lose a caregiver, they really lose an incredible sense of themselves and the way they operate. The things that they know to do, the ways that they know to be, don’t work anymore.”
– Jeree Pawl, PhD Dept. of Psychiatry, UCSF
At FSA we honor the development of a relationship between a child and a caregiver and the time it takes for the relationship to grow. We recognize that young children thrive when they share a strong bond with a caregiver and teacher who cares for them from day to day. A caregiver and teacher who intimately knows and understands their unique personality, can anticipate their needs and subtle cues and shares their joys as they discover the world around them. FSA children who experience continuity of care are able to build the trust they need to learn and grow. They use their trusted caregiver s a springboard to explore and discover the world around them. Continuity of care means that children are able to experience a long term stable relationship not only with their caregiver but with their peers. Children get to know each other in a close family style environment and these early socialization experiences support the development of cooperation and empathy.
Continuity of care and primary caregivers benefits everyone in a program. Our philosophy promotes optimum development and brain growth for children, staff and family cooperation and loyalty and a calmer, less stressful environment.
The Benefits of Continuity of Care
- Children are provided a consistent environment to foster secure emotional attachment behaviors.
- Children are able to form long-term relationships with their primary care teacher and other children in their learning group.
- Children build confidence, manage stress and exemplify a willingness to explore when trusting supportive caregiver
- Children are brought into secure relationships that are given time to deepen through conscious planning
- Teachers get to know their students, and the students’ parents, extremely well. They know each child’s individual personality and the children know the teachers’ expectations and methods.
- Families benefit from remaining with the same teacher for several years as they develop a strong partnership with the teachers.
- Research shows that parents experiencing continuity of care felt that providers respected what they had to say; listened carefully to them; explained things in a way that they could understand; and understood each families unique culture.
Implementing Multi-Age Classrooms to Promote Continuity
Children participating in this family-friendly education model are exposed to peer based learning. Children have the benefits of younger and older children to relate to, imitate, learn from and nurture. When a child is working on mastering a particular skill, they learn much quicker if they are teaching it to another student. By the same token, a child who has not mastered a specific skill will learn faster if taught or shown by a peer rather than an adult.
In a multi-age classroom siblings within the age range of the group can be cared for together. This is important to families from cultures where interdependence is highly valued.
Multi-age classrooms are more flexible and adapt easily to the interests and abilities of a wide range of ages. This model of care benefits and honors a child’s individual developmental growth instead of forcing a child to adapt to a classroom built on chronological age.