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How a Coaching Mindset Supports Early Childhood Development

Reflect on the best coaches you’ve encountered in your life — the ones who bolstered you through moments of uncertainty, acknowledged your capabilities and provided unwavering support. These individuals played, and often continue to play, a pivotal role in our personal and professional journeys.

Early education providers serve as the earliest coaches for children as they navigate their developmental milestones. Embracing a coaching mindset, whether you’re a professional “coach” or not, can significantly enhance both your personal growth and the quality of interactions with the children in your care.

Practicing a coaching mindset

Coaching is a collaborative, empowering process. Diane Rindlisbacher, a healthcare leader who specializes in executive coaching, underscores the deep impact of a coaching mindset in cultivating psychological safety, effective leadership, and a thriving organizational culture — all crucial elements for nurturing success among your program’s staff and children. We can integrate her six coaching strategies into our daily interactions:

  1. Facilitate awareness
    A coaching mindset requires ongoing awareness of ourselves and others. When we are present, we can identify patterns and be more sensitive to others’ needs.
  2. Realize the potential
    Every individual, from ourselves to our staff to the children in our care, possesses the potential to be even better. Offer continuous encouragement and remain open to possibilities.
  3. Activate your curiosity
    Early education professionals are lifelong learners. By continually evaluating and refining our practices, we can deliver our best to both staff and children. Embrace new ideas, challenge assumptions and explore diverse perspectives.
  4. Move into deeper listening
    Genuine, undistracted listening fosters trust and strengthens connections with others.
  5. Exercise question thinking
    Practice asking open-ended questions to encourage deeper conversations and exploration. Instead of “Did you…?” ask “How did you…?”
  6. Shift your perspective
    Being an early education provider is challenging but rewarding work. When facing an obstacle, try shifting your perspective by leaning into curiosity to discover alternative explanations or solutions.

You don’t have to adopt all these strategies at once. Try practicing a few this week and see how it changes your interactions, then add a few more as you get the hang of it.

The impact of a coaching mindset on children

Adopting a coaching mindset invites children to be participants in their learning, and in turn, they’ll start to develop the mindset, too.

Gabi Immelman, CEO and founder of e-learning platform Mindjoy, recommends being a “co-researcher” with children, asking them questions rather than only giving instruction. Active listening, withholding judgment and emphasizing progress over perfection all contribute to cultivating curiosity, critical thinking and empathy in children.

Connect with a coach

At Step Up to Quality, we recognize the transformative power of coaching. That’s why we offer group and one-on-one coaching opportunities for early education providers enrolled in our program. Our specialized, professional coaches help providers navigate through our five steps, ultimately improving educational experiences for children.

Quality Foundations Coaching is a group coaching opportunity available once providers achieve Step 1, facilitated through weekly virtual meetings. Providers join together to learn about high-quality practices, gain motivation, prepare for one-on-one coaching and build a network of support across the state.

One-on-one coaching is available once programs complete the requirements for Step 2. Your coach will help you identify and maximize your strengths and guide you along your path to quality improvement.

Remember, coaches are invested in your success and are committed to supporting you every step of the way. Coaching isn’t about focusing on weaknesses; it’s about collectively shaping the future you aspire to achieve. Begin your coaching journey today.