This module explains the importance of healthy brain development in a child’s early years and explores the attachment theory and the impact on the practitioner. It will also discuss the impact of toxic stress on child development and normal and adverse stress responses.

Supporting Brain Development as a Nurturning Practitioner

In order to discuss supporting brain development as a nurturing practitioner, let’s start with a quick and easy win! One of the easiest ways to promote healthy brain development in the early years as a classroom practitioner is through something called ‘serve and return interactions’.

Select the left and right arrows underneath the image to advance through key areas of supporting brain development which is contained on each the slides:

Adversity & Attachment Theory

Important points pertaining to the Adversity and Attachment Theory are represented below by an image with accompanying text underneath. Learn about each point by slowly dragging the selector to the right until you have familiarised yourself with all three systems:

Child Development & Toxic Stress

The image below contains description for three types of toxic stress. Select each of the exclamation (!) icons to learn about each type:

Stress Response Behaviours

When faced with a threat or stressful situation, our systems go into a higher state and we go into fight/flight or freeze mode. This might mean we fight back, run away or hide. A securely attached individual, who has not been exposed to cumulative ACEs will come back down emotionally, rest, recover and move on. This is classed as tolerable and can be viewed as a positive experience. 

When exposed to chronic stresses or adverse childhood experiences, your body doesn’t come back, it remains in a higher state of alert permanently. This is what we refer to as toxic stress; a permanent higher state of alertness.

Impacts of Toxic Stress

Now let’s take a look at the impacts of toxic stress. Select the left and right arrows underneath the image to advance through key areas of information contained on each the slides:

Learner Application Activity

Reflect on your pupils and focus on behaviour you have experienced in the past and using a ‘trauma aware’ approach, reflect on how much of the adverse behaviour you experience on a daily basis which might be attributed to adverse experiences and toxic stress:

• Do you feel you could have reacted differently had you dealt with a situation with a trauma aware approach?

Module Two: Knowledge Test