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Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEN Early Years Resources)

This webpage has been created to give Early Years Practitioners and Parents/Carers easy access to relevant information and resources to support young children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities.

It is part of a series of SEN Early Years Resources

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

From birth, most babies are able to communicate what they want and need through a range of behaviours including crying. In the early stages of life these behaviours ensure that babies get their most basic needs met (food sleep, warmth etc.). However, failure to meet these needs will result in a distressed baby unable to focus on anything apart from having these needs met. Maslow describes these biological and physiological needs as being fundamental for the growth of other areas of development. Once these basic needs are met children seek to proceed to the next level of need with the intention of having these needs met and to then be able to move up the hierarchy. 

As practitioners, we must support children’s PSED through ensuring that their hierarchy of needs are met to enable children to be ready to play and learn. 

This information is also available as a downloadable sheet 'Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs' from the downloads section on the right-hand side of this webpage.

7 Cs supporting social and emotional skills

This simple booklet reminds us of 7 key responses for adults to put into action, when supporting young children’s social and emotional needs:  Clear rules, Choices, Countdown, Confidence, Consistency, Control and Comfort. Please see this document in the downloads section on the right-hand side of this webpage.

Leuvens Scales of Well Being and Involvement

Well-being and Involvement in Care - A process-oriented Self-evaluation Instrument for Care Settings (Sics)

The ‘Well-being and Involvement in Care - A process-oriented Self-evaluation Instrument for Care Settings (Sics)’ manual explains the importance of young children’s well-being and engagement in their play and learning.  If a child has a high level of well-being and high engagement in their environment then it follows that their social and emotional skills will be robust.  It walks practitioners through how to observe and assess well-being and engagement using the Leuvens Five Point Scale and prompts changes in the early years environment to support these skills in young children. The accompanying ‘Sics – checklist’ gives further practical support and provides templates for practitioners to use.

The Torbay Educational Psychology and Advisory Teacher Service has created a simplified version of these resources for ease of use. Please see this 'Leuven's Scales of Well-being' document in the downloads section on the right-hand side of this webpage. There is a pdf version (embedded below) and a downloadable word version.

Early Support Information on Behaviour

Information booklet about supporting young children’s emotional responses and ability to cope with social expectations. 

Early Education – Learning Together Series

These two particular documents offer support considerations when helping children to cope with change and with their emotional responses.

Personal, social and emotional development - Managing Feelings and Behaviour Guidance Sheets

Guidance around supporting different age groups including play activity ideas from 0-1 years, 1-2 years, 2-3 years, 3-4 years, & 4-5 years. Please see the following documents in the downloads section on the right-hand side of this webpage:

Social and Emotional Aspects of Development – Guidance for practitioners working in Early Years Foundation Stage

The ‘Understanding’ Iceberg

This is a tool to help you identify and record the specific behaviours that you observe and then consider the underlying factors that might be causing the behaviours.  By doing this you will be more equipped to change the environment or the adult responses to support the child’s emotional needs. Please see both 'The 'Understanding' Iceberg (example)' and 'The 'Understanding' Iceberg (blank template)' in the downloads section on the right-hand side of this webpage.

Behaviour Matters – Supporting children’s social and emotional development in the early years (Pre-school Learning Alliance publication)

This Pre-school Learning Alliance publication, which captures all the current pedagogy about managing positive behaviour in young children can be purchased from the Pre-school Learning Alliance online bookshop. Behaviour Matters helps practitioners to address common behaviour issues in young children and advises on what to do when a child’s behaviour becomes a more serious concern.

Cerebra Lending Library

Parents and carers can borrow books and toys from the Cerebra lending library to support their child’s play and learning

Useful titles in a board book version are:

Supporting children’s emotional responses using a STAR Chart – Settings, Triggers, Actions and Responses

Please see the guidance document and blank template added in the downloads section on the right-hand side of this webpage.

Developing a Behaviour Plan

Please see the guidance and example document and blank template added in the downloads section on the right-hand side of this webpage.