FSU Center launches certification on early childhood social and emotional behavioral support

Florida State University has launched a new online professional development certification to assist educators with early childhood social and emotional behavioral support and interventions.

The certification, developed by the FSU Center for the Study and Promotion of Communities, Families and Children (CFC) at the FSU College of Social Work, equips educators in early learning and elementary classrooms with the knowledge and support needed to teach children about their emotions and the connection to their thoughts and actions, preparing children for success in school.

“According to research, a major factor contributing to school readiness issues is that many children are not socially or emotionally ready to learn,” said Jim Clark, dean of the College of Social Work and a professor in the college. “This certification gives teachers the tools to aid children as they navigate learning in the classroom setting.”

Participants of the certification gain further insight into the concept of trauma and how it affects children’s social and emotional growth and their ability to learn. Through the certification’s curriculum, participants also learn how to provide student-centered behavioral support in classroom and home settings.

The development of the certification is based on the success of “Rebound and Recovery,” a curriculum developed by the CFC. The team piloted the curriculum at The Learning Pavilion (affiliated with Goodwill Industries of the Big Bend, Inc.), a nonprofit preschool focused on creating an inclusive environment that promotes growth and development for all children.

“I am often asked my approach to classroom and behavior management,” said Kim Sineath, director of The Learning Pavilion. “Anyone on my team can tell you my answer is always the same. Social Emotional learning is the key to a healthy and happy classroom. This certification gives teachers the tools they need to develop and shape a strong foundation of social and emotional skills that will stay with their kiddos for a lifetime.”

The certification readies educators to assist with students navigating emotions big and small. Certification participants access 15 self-paced modules focusing on behavioral management and best practices. They’ll also receive sample lesson plans targeting 10 different emotions, classroom curriculum and toolkits providing multimedia materials, classroom scenarios and resources for parent engagement.

“We intentionally developed a research-informed curriculum, and now certification, to educate and empower early childhood educators so their classrooms can thrive, and students can learn,” said Ellen Piekalkiewicz, FSU CFC director.

Already, early childhood educators from Florida, Georgia and as far away as Michigan have expressed interest in the training.

“It has been so amazing to see the response far and wide,” said Tai Cole, MSW and curriculum developer at the center. “The curriculum and certification we developed to support teachers and early learners can positively influence the trajectory of early education not only in Florida but across the country.”

The certification is designed to benefit a broad range of people engaged in early childhood learning, including early childhood/VPK/elementary teachers, teaching assistants and interns, school district personnel, childcare educators, front-line human services staff working in classrooms or with teachers, families, and children.

Faculty from Florida State University, the University of Miami, and the University of West Georgia, along with early childhood educators, reviewed the certification and curriculum content. This included multiple virtual meetings and calls held to understand and incorporate feedback on the certification modules from statewide entities and stakeholders.

Participants who complete the course will receive professional certification from the FSU Center for Academic and Professional Development.

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