Toddler Town offers many resources and training to our staff to better guide our children in their early learning and development years of life. We believe that their first five years of a child’s life are fundamentally important. The first five years are the foundation that shapes children’s growth, development and learning achievement at school, family and community. One of the things that Toddler Town does is to invite speakers and consultants to come in such as Nancy Bruski who come to our center and provide her services to our staff.

Nancy Bruski has earned her M.A. in social work at the University of Chicago. She has over 30 years of specializing in work with children and families. Her journey began in providing therapy as well as a therapeutic preschool/kindergarten program for emotionally disturbed preschoolers and their families. Ever since, she has offered her services to staff, parents, and children.

Nancy Bruski offers different strategies to help support the delivery of high-quality services to children and families, as well to support staff working with children. During our in-service, Nancy presented her training to our staff from both locations (Evanston and Chicago) called “Creating Peaceful, Compassionate Classrooms Through Solving the Riddle of Preschoolers’ Challenging Behaviors”.

Nancy encouraged our teachers to think about the message that they are conveying when they encourage children to “use words”. Children need to know that the phrase “use words” mean that language can be used to communicate needs, initiate and manage peer interaction, and solve problems. Using words can prevent the need for children to use their bodies and act out aggressively. The reason that children might not “use words” is that they do not yet know what words to use. It is a teacher’s job to coach children, giving them appropriate words to use when interacting with others. It is very important for teachers to model problem-solving in the classroom, both with children and among themselves when the opportunities arise.

Nancy also provided helpful phrases that teachers can use when discussing feelings/problem solving with children in the classroom. It is very important for teachers to try to read children’s mind. When working on eliminating unwanted behavior, teachers should always try to focus on the positive behavior that is desired, rather than the negative one that needs eliminating. For example, instead of saying, “I have an idea of how to help you work on not hitting, not running in the classroom…” it may be more effective to say, “I have an idea of how to use gentle hands, walk safely in the classroom, use kind words.” Focusing on positive behavior that is desired from the teacher is better.

Nancy also offered her input on fairness in the classroom. The meaning of equality should be re-examined. Everyone should have the equal right to get his or her needs met instead of everyone gets the same thing at the same time. It is important to help children accept differing needs, strengths and challenges within the classroom.
Nancy offers three helpful intervention strategies for keeping a peaceful classroom, which are the following

  • The Rule of One or Two vs. Three or Four
  • Teacher’s Feelings Always Acceptable, Through Actions with Children Must be Appropriate
  • Stepping in so that the Teacher can Step Out

Nancy has offered Toddler Town teachers strategies for effective interventions and individualized planning when indicated. She has offered support to our teachers as they address difficult times of the day, or a number of issues that might arise in their classroom on a regular basis.

Nancy offers many other insights, strategies, therapy, consultations and training to staff, child and family. She has her own website where more information can be gained, Wise Choice Guidance. Nancy has also written a book especially for teachers, “The Insightful Teacher: Reflective Strategies to Shape Your Early Childhood Classroom.”