Promoting Self-regulation in Young Learners – My Goal

PME800 – Self Regulated Inquiry and Learning

My distal goal at the kindergarten level is to help my students to develop the self IMG_0139
regulation skills necessary for successful transition into school. This goal, while somewhat arduous, is very much attainable. Success on this journey is measured by the achievement of small steps along the way. The kindergarten program is structured using a play-based model and as such, students will need to develop strong self-regulation skills to successfully navigate the day to day interactions among their peers. My proximal goal is researching and identifying several resources on self-regulation which will be useful in planning activities around the play-based classroom. This blog is in place as my monitoring device towards the achievement of my goals.

The journey to this point has really been a challenging one. I work with a class of all junior kindergarten students and they present a unique set of challenges. In contrast to a mixed grouping, in the straight class there are really no role models so students feed off each other and often they navigate towards the choices that are unacceptable. Being actively involved in the Queen’s University Professional Master of Education course module on Self-Regulation and Inquiry, has been very helpful for me in working through the process of promoting self-regulation. I have come across numerous resources that have provided a headway for putting plans in place to drive focus and direction in learning.

The collaborative nature of the course works well. It is crucial to be able to connect with other educators who provide extra support and resource suggestions that relevant to the needs of students. As much as I have come to the end of the course module, my reflection, will continue as I engage with my students. I am hoping that by the end of the school year, they would have made significant progress towards getting ready for the next phase of their learning. Towards that end, I have seen some progress and I celebrate that. Celebration of minor steps along the way to achievement of the main goal is a key take away from this course. Young learners thrive on rewards and praise, every time they make some progress, though minor, I use it as an opportunity to encourage them to achieve more.

Self-regulation is the foundation for a successful learning experience for learners of all ages. My role at this stage is to ensure that the program within which students work, gives them a chance to develop strong self-regulation skills. Interaction among peers, handling conflicts, managing personal behaviour, making appropriate and acceptable choices all rely on this very crucial skill. The process with my students continues and I am enjoying the journey.

Image result for self regulation quotes



Self-Regulation at Play Centres

Kindergarten sets the stage for a lifetime of learning for the student. A successful journey weighs heavily on the ability of students to self-regulate. Bodrova & Leong (2008), defines self-regulation as “a deep, internal mechanism that enables children as well as adults to engage in mindful, intentional, and thoughtful behaviours”. Strong self-regulation skills ensure that the student can successfully transition to the next stage in their learning journey. Students are faced with many choices as they engage in playful learning and must develop the foundation skills to help them make good choices. The Ontario Full Day Kindergarten program is based on a play-based learning model. This model ensures that students learn in play centres that are deliberately set up to provide a rich, engaging and hands-on experience.

Skills Enhanced at Play Centres

Active learning helps to enhance important skills in student’s development. It builds on the natural curiosity and an innate drive within young children to explore and discover as they grow. These crucial skills are developed and strengthened through play.

  • Social  – students learn to share, make decisions and interact with their peers in a safe and caring way.
  • Emotional – Students can make many emotional connections as they interact with each other. The dramatic play centre gives students an excellent opportunity to assume a number of roles and experience varying emotions as they collaborate.
  • Cognitive – An exercise of the brain happens every time the student engages in an inquiry.  A rich mix of inquiry-based learning provides opportunities for young learners to evaluate, analyse, make judgments or predictions as they explore their environment. A hands-on approach helps them to experience learning in more meaningful ways.
  • Physical – Many activities in play based learning involve the consistent use of small and large muscles in a variety of ways. Eye-hand coordination and fine motor skills are greatly enhanced through activities such as painting, cutting, drawing and sorting items.

Learning Through Play – Self-Regulation in the Drama Centre

The dramatic centre provides a rich resource for skills development in students. This is probably the most popular learning centre in most play-based kindergarten classrooms. In dramatic play, students have a number of opportunities to negotiate roles, make decisions and resolve conflicts.  Watch as students in this clip negotiate their role in the family set up.

How do we help students to make good choices as they interact?

  • Rules of play need to be co-constructed by the teacher and students. It is important for students to understand why a certain behaviour is appropriate or inappropriate.The teacher models what appropriate behaviour looks like so students have a better understanding of what they need to do. Students also need to be made aware of the consequences of making poor choices.
  • Visuals work! In kindergarten, visuals provide a point of reference for students to note when making a decision. They also serve as reminders of what is appropriate as they interact. When choosing visuals, be sure to use pictures that reflect the make up of the classroom. Students will definitely make better connections.classroom-rules
  • Give students opportunities to implement their own conflict resolution strategies. Problems need to be peacefully resolved for students to learn from the experience. The preparation stage for setting up a play-based program should include reading stories of how conflicts are solved and demonstrating or modelling this all-important skill for young learners.

Conflicts are always best avoided, however, in the kindergarten classroom where learning is play-based, conflicts are bound to occur. Students who are learning to self-regulate need to consistently learn how to solve conflicts. As a rule of thumb, it is always best to handle the conflicts in the moment, so the student can better understand and learn from the total experience.

To strengthen self-regulation skills, students need to be given ample opportunities to communicate and collaborate in various settings. Students learn best by doing, therefore, the onus is on the teacher to create the environment for them to get to work! Without strong self-regulation skills, students have great difficulty as they progress to the next stage of learning.  The student that can self-regulate makes good choices, are better problem solvers and have a solid base for lifelong learning.


Bodrova E. & Leong D., (2008). Developing Self-Regulation in Kindergarten. Retrieved from

Miller S. Ages and Stages-Learning to Resolve Conflicts, Scholastic Early Childhood Today. Retrieved from

Phillips N. Image Credit 2014

Tower Hill School. (2013, October 2) Children Learn Through Play in Kindergarten. retrieved from


Self-Regulation – A Kindergarten Focus

What is Self-Regulation?

Zimmerman (2002), describes self-regulation as a “self-directive process by which learners transform their mental abilities into academic skills.” The kindergarten learner faces a myriad of challenges at the beginning of their learning journey. The ability to remain calm and make effective choices will influence how effectively the goal of smooth transition is achieved. Self-regulation involves the deliberate control of impulses and being able to adjust one’s feelings or decisions on how to behave relevant to the situation one is in.

Why Self-Regulation?

Self-regulation is a critical skill that students at the kindergarten level must master in order to have a successful transition into school. The kindergartner is faced with a range of emotions as a result of separation from home. Although many students come to kindergarten from daycare, there is a different dynamic in the daycare environment. As teachers, we have to help them to make good choices and create the environment for them to practice self-regulation skills.

Dr.Stuart Shanker is a professor of Philosophy and Psychology at York University. In this interview, he talks about self-regulation in children and the role it plays in younger learners as they navigate the play-based learning environment.

Dr. Shanker purports that once a student masters self-regulation, he or she is better able to “rise to the challenge of mastering greater skills and concepts”. At the early stage of learning, a solid foundation is important. It is critical to life-long success in other areas not simply limited to the school environment.

The kindergarten program in Ontario uses a play-based model where student learning takes place at play centres that are deliberately set up to encourage meaningful interaction and learning. Many schools have a mixed grouping of junior and senior kindergarten students. In essence, this is somewhat ideal as the senior students help to model appropriate behaviour choices for the junior students.

Hoffman (2012), suggests that play promotes “self-regulation as well as cognitive learning.” This is a concept that teachers at the kindergarten level must embrace. In deciding what centres are to be set up, there must be a deliberate planning of the learning skills that will be demonstrated by the students. The teacher uses a checklist or other observation tools to make notes on each student as they interact with peers. Play-based learning is one of the best ways for a child to develop self-regulation. There are a number of role changes that take place, sharing, taking turns and teamwork. These are fundamental areas that help prepare students for transition into a more structured environment in Grade one and beyond.

Self-regulation is demonstrated when students are able to:

  • Resolve conflicts independently
  • Share materials with peers at a learning centre
  • Share ideas
  • Take turns
  • Respond to signals to tidy up or move to a new learning centre

My next blog post will focus on self-regulation at learning centres. The play-based environment in kindergarten is the ideal environment for students to hone their self-regulation skills. Each classroom setting is unique, however, there are some general principles that can help the teacher to run a successful play-based program.


Hoffman, J. Rethinking Kindergarten. Professionally Speaking, Retrieved from,

TVO Parents. (2012, November 26). Self-Regulation and Children. Retrieved from

Zimmerman, Barry J. “Becoming A Self-Regulated Learner: An Overview.” Theory Into Practice 41.2 (2002): 64-70. Education Source. Web. 11 Feb. 2017.