The Mission is developing a self-regulation tool for large-scale delivery to multiple settings (ECE, community, whānau) to prevent a comprehensive range of long-term adult life-course outcomes experienced by pre-school children exposed to high-stress and high-deprivation environments in the first 1000 days of life, to support effective preschool teaching, and provide whānau with clear pathways to support their children.
Self-regulation as a young child – being able to manage your emotional, cognitive and behavioural responses – has strong links to good life outcomes many decades later. This has been demonstrated by international research including the Dunedin Longitudinal Study, an internationally acclaimed study that has followed a group of 1000 people from birth and uncovered many important insights on development and life outcomes.
Research also shows that young children in deprived or high stress environments can particularly benefit from training in self-regulation, but what does that involve?
Methodist Mission Southern has worked with researchers from University of Otago to implement ENGAGE - a programme designed to develop self-regulation skills in pre-schoolers in early childhood centres.
The programme is based on research findings that:
- Children from deprived and high-stress environments underperform in self-regulation.
- Self-regulation skills are malleable and can be improved through training.
- Children from high-stress environments typically gain the most from training interventions.
- The period between 3 and 5 years of age is the optimum window for self-regulation interventions.
- Improvements in self-regulation lead to immediate gains in cognitive ability, social behaviour and learning.
The pilot at Little Citizens and six other early childhood centres in South Otago showed strong evidence of effectiveness, and the Mission is currently working on a roll-out to establish an even larger research evidence base. The current development also aims to widen the programme, making it more accessible and transferrable to diverse settings.