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Sagewood Early Learning introduces ELMA program

Feature Article Written in The Sector Early Childhood Magazine  – Click Here to See The Article

Early childhood education and care (ECEC) provider Sagewood Early Learning has worked with Ed Tech company ELMA Education to introduce a social and emotional learning program to the children in its care. 

Believed to be a first for Western Australia, the program adds an additional edge to the school readiness program offered by Sagewood. We spoke with ELMA Education’s Tenille Bentley and Sagewood COO Jay Barr to learn more.

Sound therapy was being offered to educators at Sagewood, and from this connection, Ms Barr became aware of the early childhood program which Ms Bentley offers through ELMA Education.

As part of the ELMA early childhood program, Ms Bentley offers additional support to Sagewood centers. Since implementing their learning from the program, educators have noticed a decrease in instances of negative behaviour, an increase in the children’s capacity to recognise and regulate their emotions, more empathy and compassion at service level, and educators and children feeling an increased sense of wellbeing.

One advantage of the ELMA program is its reach across both the primary and early childhood spaces, with ‘train the teacher’ options available in both spaces. When educators in both settings are familiar with the program, transitions between early learning and school are enhanced, however even without the presence of consistency in both spaces, children who have completed ELMA learning are more easily able to transition to school, Ms Bentley said, because they have tools in place to both socialise and communicate.

“Evidence is clear that there is a direct correlation between EQ and IQ so having these skills increases the children’s ability to learn the academic outlines,” Ms Bentley said.

“With these specific skill sets they are able to cope with the transition with the tools they have in place and have learnt, they can also socialise and connect better with new groups of children, and can communicate clearly how they feel and why- they have tools to support them through the ups and downs.”

Having skills in resilience and self management, she continued, allows them to adapt easily to different situations, something she described as “a superpower for mental health and depression and a sense of self worth.”

Transitioning the learning between home and school is supported through an at home component to complement the learning children acquire during their time at the service.

“Parents really enjoy having the option to use these at home tools, and ELMA has found families have great success with conflict resolution between children and adults, and also deeper connection and communication within the family system,” Ms Bentley said.

ELMA consists of  37 lessons, 8 workbooks, 15 cartoons and toys and books, as well as at home programs and parent packs.

Educators complete a teacher training program which is self paced, where six modules are completed with mindfulness exercises in each, supporting them to build out a tool kit of tools to use in the centre.

The program covers four key areas:

  • Play therapy
  • Art Therapy
  • Sound Therapy and
  • Colour Therapy

“The great thing is it is also already mapped to the learning outcomes of the Early Years Learning Framework,” Ms Bentley said.

“Emotional Learning is something you need to make sure has sustainable solutions, there are many programs out there, but the key is how easily this can be picked up by the children, the teachers and the families.”

Learn more about ELMA here. For more information about Sagewood please see here.