Jul 25

Teaching Emotional Literacy

Posted by Valentine Burr in Fair Is Not Equal on Jul 25, 2012

Emotions charts from a pre-K classroom

These images are part of a broader social/emotional curriculum with 4/5's aimed at expanding children's emotional vocabulary and helping them to label and discuss their emotional states. After the teachers introduce the charts, they are posted throughout the classroom at child-eye level. Children are free to move their names about. Sometimes the act of labeling their feelings helps a child move on independently; at other times it can precipitate conversations with teachers and peers.

Without the benefit of a strong relationship between a student and teacher, and without a deep understanding of the emotional world of a child, classroom behavioral interventions have little chance of success. Many students who present with a range of behavioral and/or socio-emotional challenges find it hard to trust those around them-especially adults. At the same time, these are the same children who may be experiencing strong emotions such as anger, sadness, and anxiety.

Children often lack the language to identify and talk about these feelings, and to navigate the complex world of relationship formation. This can result in the very children who most need emotional care finding themselves in antagonistic or isolated positions within the classroom community.

Helping children identify and name their emotions with increasing depth and sophistication is an essential step in community building and social problem solving.

What strategies do you use in your classroom to develop emotional literacy? How might this look different for older children and adolescents?

tagged early childhood, emotional literacy, pre-k, strategies
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