Developing the Socially and Emotionally Competent Child

 

This course will walk you through the importance of supporting children’s developing social and emotional competence. The emphasis will be how we as VPK teachers, teach effective pro-social skills through specific and explicit instruction around friendship skills, emotional literacy, and how to handle anger and disappointment. These skills are necessary for young children so that can effectively and efficiently interact and react to the social situations they will encounter as young children. Further, it will give them the necessary foundation to build more complex social skills as they continue in their life-long pursuits. Additionally, the suggested practices are simple methods that can be done every day in the context of your busy classroom with limited preparation. So enjoy this journey to supporting children’s emerging social and emotional competence.

Welcome to Developing the Socially and Emotionally Competent Child

Introduction and Purpose

This course will walk you through the importance of supporting children’s developing social and emotional competence. The emphasis will be how, we as VPK teachers, teach effective pro-social skills through specific and explicit instruction around friendship skills, emotional literacy, and how to handle anger and disappointment. These skills are necessary for young children so that can effectively and efficiently interact and react to the social situations they will encounter as young children. Further, it will give them the necessary foundation to build more complex social skills as they continue in their life-long pursuits. Additionally, the suggested practices are simple methods that can be done every day in the context of your busy classroom with limited preparation. So enjoy this journey to supporting children’s emerging social and emotional competence.

What is Social and Emotional Development in VPK age Children

Social and Emotional Development is the process of developing the social and emotional skills needed to control one’s emotions and interact with other children, adults, and the environment. When a VPK student has these skills they have the:

  • Confidence and competence needed to engage with others and classroom activities
  • Ability to develop good relationships with peers and adults/make friends/get along with others
  • Ability to persist at tasks
  • Ability to follow directions
  • Ability to identify, understand, and communicate own feelings/emotions
  • Ability to constructively manage their strong emotions
  • Ability to develop empathy  

Why is Social and Emotional Development in Classroom Matters

One of the main goals of early schooling is to teach children social and emotional competence, the set skills and behaviors that allow children to interact successfully with others in a way accepted by their society. Social and emotional competence has six elements:

  • Social values, such as caring, honesty, and responsibility
  • Interpersonal skills, such as maintaining relationships, communicating feelings, and agreeing to compromises
  • Cultural competence, such as interactions with those of different backgrounds, the recognition of unfair treatment, and actions
  • Positive self-identity, including sense of worth and sense of purpose
  • Planning, organizational, and decision-making skills, such as listening, following directions, and solving problems
  • Self-regulation, including reflecting on feelings, controlling impulses, and resisting peer pressure

All these skills are required for school readiness and have the highest correlation to school success over any single academic skill.

Implicit and Explicit Instruction: The Key to Learning Social Skills

 

Description and Organization of Course

In Review: There are Three Key Considerations in supporting and growing children’s social and emotional competent 

  • Specific and explicit teaching of friendship skills
  • Developing emotional literacy
  • Providing ways to manage and handle disappointment and anger

The content of this course is designed to help you address the social and emotional development of four-year-olds in your classroom. Throughout the course, references will be made to the specific competencies that should be developed in children related to social and emotional development.

The Developing the Socially and Emotionally Competent Child Course is organized into five sections: Welcome; Importance of Intentionally Teaching  Social skills; Building Emotional Literacy to Support Children’s Communication and Interactions ; Developing Strategies to Support Children’s Anger and Disappointment; Summary and Charge, and Resources. The three instructional topics include:

  • Importance of Intentionally Teaching Social skills focuses on the importance of specifically teaching friendship skills. This is done so children understand exactly what the skills are, how and when to use them, and opportunities to practice them to assure understanding and future use.
  • Building Emotional Literacy to Support Children’s Communication and Interactions incorporates strategic ways to use the literacy strategies you are already using to build children’s communication skills around expressing their emotions in acceptable and developmentally appropriate ways.
  • Developing Strategies to Support Children’s Anger and Disappointment spotlights strategies to teach children how to recognize their anger and disappointment and how to react and respond in ways that are acceptable.

All three components are strategy driven topics. Combined they are highly effective in developing children’s abilities to appropriately interact with peers and adults. Additionally it provides them with the tools to handle situations that can be frustrating and trying. By increasing the positive and pro-social interactions in young children you are reducing the likelihood of challenging behaviors.

Course Goal: At the conclusion of this course, participants will be able to develop age appropriate learning opportunities to promote children’s acquisition of foundational pro-social skills in the classroom.

Course Learning Objectives: Upon course completion participants will be able to:

  • Identify the importance of being intentional about teaching social and emotional skills, thus identifying opportunities and strategies for supporting the development of friendship skills
  • Define emotional literacy and identify activities that build emotions vocabularies to provide opportunities for children to begin to understand their own, as well as others’ emotions.
  •  Understand the need for children to control anger and handle disappointment as well as, be able to identify anger management skills and teach problem solving. 

Importance of Intentionally Teaching Social Skills

Overview of Intentional Teaching of Social Skills

Intentional Instructional is a necessary step to teach new things to young children. We do this instinctually and naturally when we teach them to count, writes their name, learn their shapes, sliding on the slide. However, we rarely spend the same amount of time teaching children how to interact with each other or how to react when, they themselves become frustrated of angry. Intentional teaching is fostered when the teacher breaks down the steps or process of interactions. It includes the why, how, when, and opportunities to practice that skill. In the case of teaching social skills there are three essential elements:

  • Implicit Instruction is when we do not directly teaching something rather we imply it by our actions or guiding tone. As instructors, we do this instinctively. It is a way of modeling our expectations for children in the context of our everyday actions together
  • Explicit Instruction is when we directly teach something to a child. When we do this we identify what we are teaching, why we are teaching, how to do what we are teaching, when to apply what you are teaching, and then give lots of practice. Explicit teaching is usually systematic and detailed
  • Stage of Learning: In all learning there are four stages. They include acquisition, fluency, maintenance, and generalization. These stages of learning are a process of all learning and processed by children in both implicit and explicit learning opportunities. 

Module Goal: Participants will be able to develop strategic learning opportunities to promote children’s acquisition of foundational pro-social skills

Module Learning Objectives:

  • At the end of this module participants will be able to:
    • Identify the importance of intentional teaching of social skills
    • identify opportunities and strategies for supporting the development of friendship skills 

What is Intentional Instruction: Discussing Implicit and Explicit Instruction and how children learn?

As you know, teaching is a critical part of being a VPK teacher. We approach this task in two ways, implicitly and explicitly. Think about a typical day. You teach the detailed lesson plans you prepared in a detailed way, this is explicit instruction. When you see two children poking at each other while in line, you go stand next to them, make eye contact, and stand straight as a board with your arms by your side, this is implicit instruction.

To further describe this watch the video below about implicit and explicit instruction:

Implicit: 

   

Example of Implicit Instruction:

 

Explicit:  

Example of Explicit Instruction:

There are four stages of the learning process they affect “how” we teach these skills:

Acquisition – When children learn how to do something new, they acquire new understandings about the skills or concepts. To support children’s acquisition of new skills, we need to explain and demonstrate the skill/concept and encourage children as they attempt to learn the skill. Skills can easily be lost at this stage – so encourage, encourage, encourage!

Fluency – Once children acquire a new skill, they need to be able to use the skill proficiently or fluently. We need to provide multiple opportunities for them to practice and master this skill/concept, as well as prompt children to use their new skills in new situations.

Maintenance – Once children are fluent with their new skills, they need to be able to use the skills (or “maintain” the skills) without support or prompting from an adult.

Generalization – When children apply their new skills to new situations, people, activities, and settings they demonstrate generalized use of these skills. For example, a child might learn a new skill at childcare and then generalize that skill by using it at home (a different setting) or a child might learn a new skill with a grandparent and generalize it by using it with their aunt (different people).

Each learning stage requires intentional, purposeful planning on our part. This means that we need to plan “when” (during our daily schedule) we will teach new skills in order for children to have opportunities to acquire new skills and to become fluent with their new skills. But, we can’t stop at that point! We also need to continue to plan opportunities for children (and encourage them) to practice using their new skills throughout the day without “us” so they can show maintenance and generalization.

Being more aware of supporting learning also “tunes” us in to being purposeful and direct as well as not missing opportunities to encourage children when they are spontaneously learning and using their new skills. We want to take advantage of both planned and unplanned opportunities!

Social skills can be embedded into almost any part of the daily schedule—Intentional, planned times as well as taking advantage of naturally occurring moments throughout the day. 

What are the benefits of Intentional Instruction around social skills?

 

When children are successful at making friends, they have opportunities to learn and practice many social skills such as cooperation, sharing, turn taking, problem solving, and conflict resolution. These are the discrete behaviors that young children engage in during play with each other that seem to be directly related to having friends. That is, children who do more of these behaviors are more likely to have friends and get along in the classroom. This is significant because it demonstrates that when children have these skills, it makes it easier for them to have more positive experiences in the learning environment and they will more likely comply with what the class is doing, as they will want to be a part of the learning.

What Social Skills do Children Need to be taught?

There are six key social skills that children need to interact with other and make friends. They are:

  • Play Organizers
  • Sharing
  • Being Helpful and a Team Player
  • Taking Turns
  • Giving Compliments
  • Knowing When and How to Give Apologies

These essential skills are discussed below in detail. 

Play Organizers Children who are able to organize play situations can create play opportunities for themselves and others. Play organizers might try to get a friend’s attention, give a friend a toy, or give an idea of what they might do with a toy or material.

With VPK age children, play organizers are usually “Let’s” statements, such as, “Let’s play trucks.” Often these “Let’s” statements are followed by suggestions about roles (e.g., “You be the driver and I’ll put the logs on the truck”) or specific activities (e.g., “Roll it to me.”).

Here is an example

Here is another example of children organizing play

 

Sharing Children who are able to share toys and materials often have more positive experiences interacting with peers. In turn, since having this skill allows them opportunities to practice and experience positive social interactions, they also begin to learn how to better handle situations when they don’t want to share what they are playing with. As adults, we often expect young children to share without helping them understand what it means to do so.  

Sharing takes many forms among VPK age children. Children might offer to share materials they are playing with, respond to requests from other children to share (“Can I have some of your paint?”), ask others to share what they are playing with as well as refuse to share what they are playing with.

Here is an example

 Being Helpful/Team Players Being helpful or a team player is another skill that makes it easier for children to play and respond to others. Being helpful or assisting others takes many forms at the VPK level. Children might help each other onto or off of an apparatus, they can tell or show a friend how to do something; or they can assist someone in distress.

Here is an example

Here is an additional example of children working in together

Taking Turns. In addition to engaging in the behaviors listed above, the formation of friendship is equally dependent upon two patterns of interaction:

  1. First, it is necessary for children to be reciprocal in their interactions (each has a turn). Reciprocity has two dimensions. Initially, children need to be responsive to the social bids/requests of others. Also, over a period of time (say several months), it is important that there be a relatively equal number of occasions that each member of a friendship dyad starts an interaction.
  2. In addition to reciprocity, friendship patterns of interaction are also characterized by the length of interaction occurrences. That is, friendship pairs engage in gradually longer play episodes and interactions.

Turn-taking might involve children playing a game where “you take a turn, I take a turn”, they might ask for their turn with a toy, they might get a friend’s attention to initiate play by looking, tapping, or calling them, or holding out their hand to indicate initiation of play and turn-taking. 

Giving Compliments and Offering Help. Although this behaviors does not often occur among preschoolers, they tend to have a powerful effect on the formation of friendships. Preschoolers compliment one another’s successes, buildings, and appearances. They might say, “Good job Juan,” “He’s a smart boy,” “I like the way you painted that picture of your house.” Also, when children work to support one another's efforts lasting friendships are developed

Here is an example

 

 

Knowing When and How to Give Apologies. Learning when and how to give apologies, just like learning how to give compliments, can have positive effects on the formation of friendships. Children begin to learn how to pay attention and be more responsive to their friends’ feelings as well as how their behavior affects others. Children might say, “I’m sorry I hit you when you took my ball,” or “I didn’t mean to push you.”

Teachers and caregivers need to devote energy toward creating an atmosphere of friendship. When you walk into a VPK classroom, where an adult has successfully created this climate, you see adults giving time and attention to children when they engage in friendly behaviors, you hear adults talking nicely to one another, and you hear children supporting one another’s friendly behavior. Overall, you get a sense that friendship is the ultimate goal. 

How to be Intentional with your instruction

Setting the stage is a necessary step in supporting children’s developing friendships and teaching the critical skills described previously. There are several ways to teach children these skills: teaching the concept, modeling appropriate behavior, providing practice opportunities with feedback, and supporting children’s use of the behavior in context. Now we will discuss and see samples of the following strategies: 

Modeling. Modeling can include adults or peers demonstrating the friendship skill or video based modeling with short vignettes of children engaging in friendly behavior (Webster-Stratton & Hammond, 1997). Often, it is effective to model both examples and non-examples followed by opportunities for correct responding. There are three guiding principles of effective role-play modeling strategies:

1) Use invisible support, that is, call on the child who you are confident will model the skill appropriately before calling on a child who will need more support.

2) Sometimes when children are modeling the friendship skill in front of their peers, they can get carried away with being silly or inappropriate. It is important to give children another chance and more support so that they are successful in demonstrating the skill appropriately. This approach allows them to receive encouragement from the teacher and other children for doing the skill.

3) Because role-plays typically involve only one or two children at a time, it is necessary to plan ways for the rest of the children to be actively engaged. Strategies for including children who are not involved in the role-play include having them give a thumbs up for friendly behavior and a thumbs down for unfriendly behavior; patting themselves on the back if this is a behavior they do; clapping when the role-play is over; saying “ready, set, action” before the role-play begins; or having a popsicle stick sign with a happy face on one side and a sad face on the other (children show the happy face when the behavior being modeled is friendly and the sad face when the behavior being modeled is unfriendly). It is also important to keep track of who has had a chance to role-play and ensure that all of the children in the class get a turn during the week.

4) Whenever possible, using small groups to teach these skills will be useful in terms of giving all children opportunities for practice.

 

Here is a specific video of this strategy in practice

 

Modeling with Images. The use of images to help model friendship skills can be very effective with young children. Image based modeling is particularly effective for several reasons:

1) Images can capture real-life examples of children using friendly behavior. These examples can be used to generate discussion about the friendly behavior. Images can also display non-examples. These examples can be used to teach children to discriminate between friendly and unfriendly behavior and prompt children to develop and share alternative behaviors and solutions if initial ideas are not effective.

2) Images can prompt children to attend to the specific features of the friendly behaviors and the context in which they occur. Children can also make predictions about “what will happen next” when the image uses a friendly or unfriendly behavior.

3) Children love seeing pictures which makes this format particularly powerful in engaging and keeping children’s attention.

Modeling with Puppets. Similar to videos, puppets are very engaging to young children:

1) Because adults are in control of the puppet, the puppet can always be a responsive play partner. The puppet can model friendly play and, when appropriate and planned, can model non-examples. Puppets in the image of children are particularly effective because they provide a proximate model. That is, children are more likely to emulate the behavior of models that look like themselves. But, any puppet will work!

2) Additionally, some children will disclose more about their feelings and friendship problems to puppets than to adults, especially if adults are historically not seen as trustworthy by the child.

Preparing Peer Partners. When typical children are assisting their peers with special needs to acquire friendship skills, it is necessary for them to learn to suspend social rules in order to not feel rejected. In the usual course of events, interactions between typical children are usually quite reciprocal. If someone asks nicely to play, they usually get a positive response. On the other hand, as some children begin to acquire peer interaction skills, they often reject the social overtures of their peers and they may not initiate play. Using role-play and rehearsal strategies, there is a well-researched set of procedures for teaching children to be persistent with their social behavior while their peers are becoming more fluent. For example, adults model peer rejection, provide verbal feedback (“That’s what might happen when you ask kids to play.”), and then provide a behavioral alternative that they reinforce (“If that happens, try again”—“good, you tried again.”).

 

Here is a specific video of this strategy in practice

S7A Clip

Buddy System. Often it is helpful to utilize a “buddy system” when trying to increase the friendship skills of children. Right before a free-play period, children are assigned to a buddy role, meaning that they begin free-play in some planned play activity with a certain child. In utilizing a buddy system, there are several rules to follow.

1) It is important to always have two or more buddies for each child who needs them. This arrangement helps to keep the play interesting for the socially competent children, and it helps to create the conditions for maximizing the number of diverse play ideas.

2) It is also important to rotate buddies for several reasons:

a) First, rotating buddies helps to ensure that children have the opportunity to engage in friendship skills with the widest variety of playmates.

b) Second, rotating helps to avoid buddy burnout, a condition in which children come to respond negatively to their helper role because they always play with the same individual.

3) One can optimize the buddy system by pairing the most popular and liked children with those who need the most help. This type of pairing can lead to other children simultaneously helping their peers because the “cool” kids are doing it.

4) At the end of a play period, children should receive specific feedback for being buddies and, provided with feedback that specifically enumerates the friendship skills they used in interacting with their assigned partner.

 

Here is a specific video of this strategy in practice

Priming. Teachers can increase the likelihood of children using friendship skills with specific priming strategies. For example, prior to a free-play period, teachers can ask children who they are going to play with; they can ask what specific toy or material they are going to share; and they can provide practice opportunities. A practice opportunity might include, “Hey, Jaymin, let’s pretend I am Cody and you are going to ask me to play trucks.” Jaymin would then practice asking, with or without adult prompting, and the adult would provide encouragement or feedback for Jaymin’s social initiation to play. Other play ideas include the following:

1) Teachers can increase the duration of peer play by providing suggestions or prompting role reversals.

2) Expanding play ideas can occur by suggesting new ways of playing with the materials, new ways for dramatic play to unfold, and new ways of including more children in a game or activity.

3) When a teacher notices that children are disengaging from play with one another, he or she can prompt the children to reverse dramatic play roles (“How about you be the mom now and she can be the baby?”). This strategy can reengage children in the play sequence and lead to more lengthy social encounters.

 

Here is a specific video of this strategy in practice

Here is another example of priming the environment

 

Reinforcement. Although it is important to acknowledge children for their use of friendship skills, it is also the case that the effective use of acknowledgement requires ongoing attention to several key factors:

1) Timing of reinforcement delivery is crucial. As long as children are engaged in friendly behavior, it is a good idea to withhold reinforcement. Although this approach may seem counterintuitive, evidence suggests that adults’ delivery of attention to children at play can have the immediate effect of terminating their play. Given this fact, it is advisable to comment on children’s friendly play shortly after the fact.

2) When commenting on children’s friendly play, it is essential to describe the specific friendly behavior(s) that you observed. Instead of saying, “You’re playing so nicely together,” say, “You are taking turns and saying nice things to each other.” This descriptive commenting provides children with specific feedback about what they are doing well.

3) For many children, caregivers may need to provide lots of reinforcement early on. Once children start to use their friendly behaviors, however, adults need to begin the process of slowly removing their specific feedback from the ongoing play. The goal is not to remove all adult reinforcement, but to provide sufficient opportunity for friendly play in and of itself to become reinforcing.

 

Here is a specific video of this strategy in practice

 

Activity: Test Your Knowledge of Implicit and Explicit Instruction

Teaching a Friendship Skill

Pick a Friendship Skill you think your VPK children most need to learn (Play Organizers, Sharing, Being Helpful and a Team Player, Taking Turns, Giving Compliments, Knowing When and How to Give Apologies)

Next, using the information you gathered from the training answer the following questions

  1. What is the rationale for teaching this skill?
  2. Describe the skill
  3. How will you demonstrate the skills to your VPK children?
  4. How will you practice the skill with your VPK children?  
  5. What opportunities will you plan to provide to promote the skill throughout the classroom and day? 

Knowing if you have created opportunities for Intentional Instruction?

Peer interactions and development of friendship skills are a great context for children to learn about regulating emotions. Think of all the issues that come up when children are playing (or attempting to play) together. They have many opportunities to practice organizing play situations, sharing, being helpful, taking turns, giving compliments, and apologizing! Friendships also foster children’s empathy skills, giving them opportunities to begin to understand other children’s feelings and perspectives. One way to help children be more successful in developing friendship skills is to “teach” them to label, understand, express, and control emotions. 

•Quiz: Implicit Vs. Explicit Instruction

  1. Implicit Instruction is when
    • You plan a lesson around the objective
    • You set up your environment to communicate a specific learning objective
    • You do not directly teaching something rather we imply it by our actions or guiding tone.
    • You are creating thematic unit
  2. Explicit Instruction is when you directly teach something to a child.  To do this you must
    • Identify what and why you are teaching
    • How to do what we are teaching
    • When to apply what you are teaching with  practice
    • All of the above
    • None of the above
  3. There are four stages of the learning process they affect “how” we teach these skills. Match the correct team to the correct explanation
    • Acquisition – When children learn how to do something new, they acquire new understandings about the skills or concepts. To support children’s acquisition of new skills, we need to explain and demonstrate the skill/concept and encourage children as they attempt to learn the skill. Skills can easily be lost at this stage – so encourage, encourage, encourage!
    • Fluency – Once children acquire a new skill, they need to be able to use the skill proficiently or fluently. We need to provide multiple opportunities for them to practice and master this skill/concept, as well as prompt children to use their new skills in new situations.
    • Maintenance – Once children are fluent with their new skills, they need to be able to use the skills (or “maintain” the skills) without support or prompting from an adult.
    • Generalization – When children apply their new skills to new situations, people, activities, and settings they demonstrate generalized use of these skills. For example, a child might learn a new skill at childcare and then generalize that skill by using it at home (a different setting) or a child might learn a new skill with a grandparent and generalize it by using it with their aunt (different people).
  4. What Social Skills do Children Need to be taught? There are six key social skills that children need to interact with other and make friends. They are:
    • Holding hands, cleaning up, playing together, smiling at others, helping a friend, and waiting for everyone to have a turn
    • Play Organizers, Sharing, Being Helpful and a Team Player, Taking Turns, Giving Compliments, and Knowing When and How to Give Apologies
    • Playing together, Helping a friend, Waiting for everyone to have a turn, Giving Compliments, Knowing When and How to Give Apologies and Sharing
    • All lists above are missing an element
  5. What is modeling when referring to teaching social skills:
    • The process of imitating others
    • The process of setting up a visual, verbal, and/or physical example in which you want other children to observe and practice
    • The process of showing your teaching style to other colleagues and professionals
    • The process of being a prototype in social circles
  6. What is priming, when teaching social skills?
    • Setting up the environment or an activity so that it is prepared to practice a newly learned skill
    • Teaching the best behaviors that a child should personify
    • The main strategy used in teaching an identified skill
    • None of the above

Building Emotional Literacy to Support Children's Communication and Interactions

Overview of Emotional Literacy

 

Emotional literacy is the ability to identify, understand, and express emotions in a healthy way. Children with a strong foundation in Emotional Literacy tolerate frustration better, engage in less destructive behavior, and are healthier, less lonely, less impulsive, and more focused. Best of all, children with a robust foundation in emotional literacy have greater academic achievement due to their improved communication skills.  In the case of teaching emotional literacy there are five essential stages:

  • Direct teaching which involves planning specific activities/opportunities for children to increase their emotional vocabulary as well as to start to discriminate what different facial expressions/emotions might look like.
  • Indirect teaching is when a teacher provides emotion labels – “you’re happy” or “you’re frustrated” – as children experience various affective states. 
  • Songs and Games involve use of inherently interesting activities for which children naturally engage. The difference is that the games and songs utilize identification of emotions, labeling activities, practice strategies, and reactions.
  • Illustrations of Emotions require using images of human reactions to assist children in labeling, identifying, and reacting to the changing emotions in themselves and others.
  • Use of Children’s Literature is a necessary step to teach about emotions because it puts it in terms and a context that children can understand. Many books are written explicitly about feelings and contain numerous feeling words. Most of us already have books in our settings – so this is an easy and fun way to be more “intentional” about supporting children’s social-emotional development.

Module Goal: Participants will be able to develop strategic learning opportunities to promote children’s use of emotional literacy and identification of emotional in themselves and other

Module Learning Objectives:

  • At the end of this module participants will be able to:
    • Define emotional literacy
    • Identify activities that build “feelings vocabulary that provides opportunities for children to begin to understand their own, as well as others’ emotions.

 

What is Emotional Literacy?

 

Emotional Literacy is the ability to recognize, understand and appropriately express our emotions. Just as verbal literacy is the basic building-block for reading and writing, emotional literacy is the basis for perceiving and communicating emotions. Becoming emotionally literate is learning the alphabet, grammar and vocabulary of our emotional lives.

Emotions are an integral part of human nature. Through emotions we respond to life in many different ways -- with anger, happiness, fear, love and loneliness. Emotions influence our thoughts and actions; they inspire our needs; they affect our bodies and impact on our relationships. Many of the problems in modern society are due, at least in part, to people being unable to understand and appropriately express emotion.

Emotional Literacy is a preventive tool, when properly taught, understood, and used, it can help solve many conflicts. Children, who deal with emotions in a positive way, find tremendous benefit. Emotional Literacy can contribute to health, positive relationships, success, and an enhanced quality of life.

What are the benefits of spending time on Emotional Literacy?

Learning how to be emotionally literate is imperative to young children. It improves the overall communication skills of children. It not only improves their expressive language (telling others the things that matter) but also receptively (hearing and caring about what others are saying). Further, since communication is not only about spoken language, but includes non-verbal cues, understanding all the ways we express our emotions is critical for children. When children are able to express themselves clearly and effectively they are less likely to engage in challenging behaviors to expre4ss their emotions. Additionally, when they are able to read other’s needs either expressed verbally, or non-verbally, children are better able to gauge how to react. Therefore, they can choose a socially acceptable response instead of reacting in the height of conflict.

Emotional literacy can be implemented rapidly, safely, and with lasting effect. Learning how to become emotionally literate is one of the best investments teachers can give to children. There are some necessary strategies that should be used alongside your existing curriculum that will lead to the emotionally literate children.

It includes discussing basic emotion words and more multifaceted examples of our full spectrum of emotions. Empowering children with rich language assists them with better understanding the complexity of our emotional range. You should include words like shy, embarrassed, frustrated, concerned, timid, proud, enthusiastic, adventurous, etc. When you use an overly simplistic word, like mad, when the child is actually frustrated you do not capture the true nature of the emotion, which makes it difficult for the child to understand that emotion and express it appropriately.  

How to build emotional literacy into your curriculum without taking more time?

There are five straightforward strategies for teaching emotional literacy:

  • Direct Teaching
  • Indirect Teaching
  • Use of Songs and Games
  • Illustrations of Feelings
  • Children’s Literature

These will be discussed in detail. Further, be aware that these are all activities that can be incorporated into your daily lessons and activities. Therefore you don’t need to add on additional time. Just embed these into your everyday learning activities.

Direct Teaching— Direct teaching of emotional literacy involves planning specific activities/opportunities for children to increase their emotional vocabulary as well as to start to discriminate how different facial expressions/emotions might look.

Using an example of emotions faces, like the one sampled below is a practical idea. These images provide rich examples to practice, identify, and discuss.

Here is an example of a simple activity that can be added to your classroom to build emotional literacy in your VPK students.

 In the picture above, a teacher hung a mirror with a feeling poster beside the mirror so that children could make different “feeling faces.” They also drew their own “feeling faces,” which were displayed above the mirror. The teacher would often join children at the mirror and start conversations about the feeling faces they were making in the mirror and what happened to make them feel this way.

In this example, a teacher used one of the feeling words (proud) for children to have an opportunity to learn what “proud” means. They cut pictures out of magazines that showed people feeling proud. They also took pictures of children in the classroom who were feeling proud! They picked a different emotion each week and used the same process. This would be a great idea for the VPK setting.

Indirect Teaching – Indirect Teaching of emotional literacy is when a teacher provides emotion label terms – “you’re excited” or “you’re frustrated” – as children experience various affective states. Here is an example of how a teacher describes what the two children are doing that helped the children figure out how they were feeling.

“Tamika and Tanya seem really happy to be playing together! They keep hugging each other!”

Another example is while working with young children in a large group setting, you may say, “I can see you are getting are excited!” or “You aren’t dancing. Are you feeling shy?” or “You are sitting close to your partner. You must feel comfortable with the work you both are doing.”

Here is a video sample of some indirect teaching that samples the activities mentioned above.

 

Use of Songs and Games –Using songs and games contextualizes the learning for children. It puts it in a relevant and fun mode that allows them to practice the skills you are trying to teach without pressure or demand.  

  1. Use of a favorite song, like“if you’re happy and you know it…”, that has been changed to use feeling words. There are also many commercial CDs that have fun songs about emotions. An example would be Jim Gill’s “I’m so Mad I Could Growl” song.
  2. Emotional Bingo game would be appropriate for a wide range of children. If each feeling face is done in a different color, children who might not be able to “read” the words could match the colors. Children might also be able to match the faces by the expressions. Children who are starting to read can match the words as well as the faces. Be sure to choose words that you are teaching and talking about in class.
  3. Play “How Would You Feel If?” –Have children role play typical situations that happen when they are together and then talk about “how would you feel if this happened to you?”
 

 

Illustrations of Emotions –Recall this uses images of human reactions to assist children in labeling, identifying, and reacting to the changing emotions in themselves and others.

Checking In – Children can “check in” each morning by putting their name by a feeling face picture that best depicts their affective state. Children can be encouraged to change their feeling faces throughout the day as their feelings change. Adults should also participate by putting their name by a feeling face and changing it throughout the day. They can talk about how their feelings change as they change their feeling face to help children understand that feelings can change many times during the day.

Feeling Dice and Feeling Wheel

a. Make a Feeling Wheel with a spinner that children can spin and then label the feeling face that the spinner lands on and talk about a time they felt that way.

b. Make Feeling Dice by covering milk cartons with paper and drawing different feeling faces on each side. Children can toss dice; label the feeling face and describe a time they felt that way.

In this video clip you will see the use of Illustrations of Emotions to assist children in identifying and emotions expressed by others.

 

This clip show the use of children’s literature to explore emotions and teach social skills

 

 

Use of Children’s Literature – Books are a great and engaging way to teach about emotions. Many books are written explicitly about feelings and contain numerous feeling words. Early Childhood teachers always have books in our classrooms – so this is an easy and fun way to be more “intentional” about supporting children’s social emotional development.

Review the reading of the Book On Monday When it Rained by Cherryl Kachenmeister

As you saw in the reading, this book is about a little boy and the things that happen to him during the week. It is a good example of using literature to promote emotional literacy because of the little boy’s clear facial expressions, as well as, the range of feeling words (disappointed, embarrassed, proud, scared, angry, excited, and lonely) presented in the book.

There are so many things you can do with this book to support emotional literacy and other VPK skills

Here are some examples:

  • While reading the story, pause after each of the day’s events and ask the children how they think they would feel if that happened to them.
  • While reading the story, have children talk about times that they felt disappointed, embarrassed, proud, scared, angry, excited or lonely. Also talk about times when you felt disappointed, embarrassed, proud, scared, angry, excited or lonely.
  • Give each child a small hand held mirror and have them make faces representing the feelings as the little boy expresses different emotions in the story.
  • Make a “feelings” collage by cutting pictures of different faces out of magazines and gluing them and other items such as sequins, glitter, etc.
  • Since the story is about one child, the pictures of the “feeling faces” are not very diverse. Take pictures of all the children in the classroom making faces that show different feelings (disappointed, proud, embarrassed, scared, angry, excited and lonely). Make a new On Monday When it Rained book—with the pictures showing the children in the classroom.
  • Use the same idea as above (taking pictures of children making faces to show different feelings), but have the children make up their own story. They can expand and add pictures showing more emotions and feelings than those in the story.
  • Have the children make a mural of things that make them feel disappointed, proud, embarrassed, scared, angry, excited and lonely.

Additional ideas like theses can be found at the Center for Social and Emotional Foundations in Early Learning in their Book Nooks section http://csefel.vanderbilt.edu/resources/strategies.html . These Book Nook teacher resources focus on a different book and related concepts from the book.

This is just one example. To get a better idea of how you can use literature to build emotional literacy here are two video examples of using children’s literature to teach emotional literacy concepts

In this video you see that the teacher used a book designed to focus on emotional literacy. Now watch this clip, in which the teacher artfully brings in emotional literacy skills even though the books focus is not solely on social and emotional skills.

 

Activity: Test your knowledge about emotional literacy

Reflecting on what you have learned thus far, about emotional literacy, begin thinking about a possible lesson you could teach with the book listed below

Today I Feel Silly    

 

  • On which area of emotional literacy could you focus (recognition of feelings, understanding the emotion, appropriately expressing emotions)?
  • How will you teach the Emotional Literacy topic?
  • In what way will the children practice what they have learned?
  • How will you know if the children learned the emotional literacy information?
  • What materials will you need to implement this lesson 

Knowing if you have taught the emotional literacy necessary for your VPK Children?

If you have supported emotional literacy in your VPK classroom, you will be able to identify these elements in your instruction and classroom:

  • Books about feelings are read and are available in the story center.
  • Photos of people with various emotional expressions are displayed.
  • Teachers label their own feelings.
  • Teachers notice and label children’s feelings.
  • Activities are planned to teach and reinforce emotional literacy.
  • Children are reinforced for using feeling words.

Emotional literacy must be taught. The skill to recognize, label, interpret, and react to emotions is learned through interaction and discussion about emotions. Helping to support the development of emotional literacy skills is a “prerequisite” skill for emotional regulation, successful interactions, and problem solving which we will discuss in the next module

Quiz Emotional Literacy

  1. Emotional literacy is:
    • When a person is emotionally drawn to the content of a story
    • Being competent and literate in their home language
    • The ability to identify, understand, and express emotions in a healthy way
    • The sole ability to be able to connect to others
  2. Direct teaching of emotional literacy involves
    •  planning specific activities/opportunities for children to increase their vocabulary related to emotions
    • State the names of emotions
    • Begin to discriminate how different facial expressions/emotions might look
    • A and C
  3. Indirect teaching of emotional literacy is when a teacher
    • Smiles at a child
    • Greets children upon dismissal and arrival
    • Plans specific activities that require children to use emotional literacy skills they have learned
    • provides emotion labels – “you’re happy” or “you’re frustrated” – as children experience various affective states
  4. You should use the following methods to teach emotional literacy utilize to promote identifying of emotions, labeling, practicing strategies, and reactions.
    • Role Playing Activities
    • Songs and Games
    • A & B
    • None of the Above
  5. Teachers should use illustrations of emotions displaying human reactions to
    •  Assist children in labeling, identifying, and reacting to the changing emotions in themselves and others.
    • Notify children of the dynamic and scary range of human emotion
    • Have children be cautious of those around them
    • Make them knowledgeable of child psychology
  6. Use of Children’s Literature is a necessary step to teach about emotions because it:
    • promotes future reading
    • is required in the VPK curriculum
    • also builds math skills
    • puts it in terms and a context that children can understand

 

Developing Strategies to Support Children's Anger, Frustration and Disappointment

Overview of Supporting Children’s Anger, Frustration, and Disappointment

 

Supporting children’s anger, frustration, and disappointment is about emotional regulation. All children -- like all humans -- get angry. When we feel threatened, we move into fight, flight or freeze. Anger is the body's "fight" response. However, humans don't only get angry in response to outside threats. We also get angry in response to our own feelings. Thus, when our own fear, hurt, disappointment, pain or grief is too upsetting, we tend to lash out to keep ourselves from feeling pain. We, mobilize against the perceived threat (even our own upsets) by attacking. Because children don't have a fully developed frontal cortex to help them self-regulate, they're even more prone to lashing out when they're angry. By the time they're in VPK, children should be able to tolerate the flush of adrenaline and other "fight" chemicals in the body without acting on them. As we accept our child's anger, frustration and disappointment and remain calm, we lays down the neural pathways that allow them to calm down without hurting themselves, others, or property. Children with a strong foundation in emotional regulation tolerate frustration better, engage in less destructive behavior, and are healthier, less lonely, less impulsive, and more focused. Best of all, children who have been taught emotional self-regulation has greater ability to persist at challenging tasks assisting them in advanced academic achievement.  In the case of teaching emotional regulation children must learn four essential features:

  • Feelings change! You can feel one way at one moment and then a new way in another moment
  • You can have more than one feeling about something. An example is you may be excited to try something new, but nervous about how that new situation will go
  • You can feel differently than someone else about the same thing. Perspective is important in understanding how events affect us differently
  • All feelings are valid;  It is what you do with those emotions that counts. It is okay to be frustrated but breaking the object of your frustration is not acceptable

Module Goal: Participants will be able to develop strategic learning opportunities to promote children’s abilities to handle anger, frustration, and disappointment using anger management strategies and problem solving skills.

Module Learning Objectives:

  • At the end of this module participants will be able to:
    • Understand the need for children to control anger, manage frustration, and handle disappointment
    • Identify anger management skills and teach problem solving to promote emotional regulation

What is Emotional Regulation for Young Children and how do we support them with effective strategies?

Anger, frustration, and disappointment are natural emotions for all humans. The trick is how we manage these behaviors. The management of these behaviors is essential. We have to manage our reactions to our own emotions to assure our safety and relationships remain intact.

What we know is that it is impossible for a child to be able to coordinate their own feelings with those of others, unless they are aware of others’ feelings and unless they care about the effect of their behavior on others. Therefore, it is essential that children learn to identify others emotions (as discussed in that last subsection) and understand what types of events may have caused the person to have that feeling and emotion. Further, they must learn to care for others and their needs. This happens as they are explicitly and implicitly taught friendship skills (as discussed in the first subsection of this course).

When children have the ability to understand that others have emotions and the possible trigger for those emotions, they are better able to identify the emotions they are experiencing and react to those in thoughtful ways. In order to regulate emotions one must bring into play the rapid and accurate recognition of physiological arousal, the processes required to think, for example, “I need to calm down” and, the behavioral condition of taking a deep breath and reacting calmly. Children, who learn to cope with their emotions constructively, not only have an easier time with disappointments, aggravation, frustration, and hurt feelings that are so very present in the lives of four year-olds, but they also have an easier time relating to other children and adults at home and in the classroom.

Therefore we must teach children these essential strategies

  • How to calm down
  • How to maintain control
  • How to problem solve 

What are the benefits supporting children’s anger, frustration, and disappointment?

Children need to learn how to recognize anger in themselves and others and understand appropriate ways to express anger. When children are able to calm down, maintain control, and decide how to react to the situation, they are better able to maintain relationships in the classroom and beyond. It is important to teach young children effective ways to control their anger and impulse in conflict situations because:

  1. Aggression and inadequate impulse control are perhaps the most potent obstacles to effective problem solving and successful relationships in childhood.
  2. Aggressive children are more likely to experience peer rejection and continued social problems for years afterwards.
  3. Evidence also suggests that aggressive children are more likely to misinterpret another peer’s or person’s intentions as hostile or threatening. 

How to use effective strategies to support children’s anger, frustration, and disappointment

Children often have various reactions to anger, disappointment, and frustration. Children need to know that they can have more than one feeling about something. That they can feel differently than someone else about the same thing. But that ALL feelings are valid – it is what you do with them that matters.

How to calm down: Knowing how to calm one’s self is an essential skill. Children need to be taught this skill. It can happen through direct modeling, as well as, during specific small and large group planned activities. Below are some strategies.

Modeling: Teachers can model how to manage anger and handle disappointment for young children. For example, a teacher can share with her class how she felt angry when someone hit her car in the parking lot – but then she decided that feeling mad wasn’t helping her think of good solutions – so she took three deep breaths and thought about something relaxing and then when she felt calm she thought of some solutions for fixing her car. In addition to recalling incidents when one felt angry but remained in control – teachers can also model remaining calm as naturally occurring disappointing, scary, frustrating and difficult situations happen throughout the day.

Teaching: Often time’s young children are often told to “calm down” but are not aware of what this means. First, they need to be taught the distinction between “tense” (like a tin man) and “calm” (relaxed – like a Raggedy Ann doll). Then describe how you get from tense to relaxed. One way is by taking three deep breaths. Emphasize that these need to be very deep belly breaths (like you are blowing out birthday cake candles).

Here is one example

The relaxation thermometer is used to teach children to calm down using the following steps:

  1. Children can decorate their relaxation thermometer with pictures of feeling faces from “happy” and “relaxed” in the blue (or cool) section of the thermometer—all the way up to “angry” or “stressed out” in the red (or hot) section of the thermometer.
  2.  The adult can then ask children to describe a recent conflict and together with the child retrace the steps that led to the angry outburst. The adult writes down the child’s actions, thoughts, and words that indicated an escalating anger pattern (e.g., thinking “He always takes my toys,” yelling, kicking).
  3. Then the adult discusses with the child the thoughts, words, and actions that the child can use to reduce his or her anger.
  4. As adults retrace the steps of the angry outburst, they help the children identify the place where they were aware they were getting angry. This place is marked as the “Danger Point” on the thermometer. Once children have established their danger points, they give it their own name (e.g., chill out, cool down, code red, hot engine, etc.). This code word can be the adult and child’s signal that anger or stress has reached the threshold, which triggers the use of an agreed upon calming strategy, such as taking three deep breaths.

In this video clip watch as this VPK teacher takes her class through a calming exercise.

 

How to Maintain Control

Anger can interfere with thinking. Children need to learn how to recognize anger in themselves and others and understand appropriate ways to express anger. They need to learn these four things:

  • Recognizing that anger can interfere with problem solving
  • Learning how to recognize anger in oneself and others
  • Learning how to calm down
  • Understanding appropriate ways to express anger

Emotional regulation strategies can provide children with the skills to control anger and handle disappointment. Emotional regulation strategies engage a relationship between internal emotional events and behavioral change through teaching strategies that guide children’s responses and reduce inappropriate behaviors. Using emotional regulation strategies teachers can provide young children with strategies to modify their thoughts and promote pro-social behaviors. With VPK age children, many accidents occur in classrooms (e.g., children bumping into one another; children knocking over others’ constructions) and some children view these accidents as purposeful, unkind acts. An essential ingredient of emotional regulation is to help children reframe and modify their thinking in order to process more neutral interpretations of others’ behaviors.

 

The “turtle technique” is an excellent strategy that has been used successfully with VPK age children to assist them in regulating their emotions.

The basic steps of the turtle technique are:

  1. Recognizing that you feel angry.
  2.  Thinking “stop”
  3. Going into your “shell” and taking three deep breaths and thinking calming, coping thoughts, “It was an accident. I can calm down and think of good solutions. I am a good problem solver.”
  4. Coming out of your “shell” when calm and think of some solutions to the problem.

Teaching the turtle technique to young children can happen at large and small group times.

  1. The teacher can begin by introducing the turtle to the class. After the children get a chance to say hello and perhaps give a gentle pet, the teacher shares the turtle’s special trick for calming down.
  2.  The turtle describes a time he got upset in preschool (selecting an incident familiar to the children is best). He demonstrates how he thinks to himself, “STOP,” then goes into his shell and takes three deep breaths. After he takes three deep breaths, he thinks to himself, “I can calm down and think of some solutions to solve my problem.” At this point in the process, the “turtle technique” is used to demonstrate that when he is calm, he comes out of his shell and is ready to problem solve peacefully.
  3. To create a sufficient level of practice, the teacher can then invite the children to practice the turtle’s secret. For example, children can practice “going in their shells” as they go under a large sheet and take three deep breaths or an individual child can model the “turtle technique” in front of the class. Practice in small group activities can include making paper plate turtles with moveable heads and arms that “go in their shell.” Children can then rehearse the steps with the paper-plate turtle.

This process can be supported by a simple social story. See the hyperlinked example . Additionally, you can use cue cards from this book to teach and remind children of this process. Watch this example of a teacher using cue cards from the book to take children through the process of The Turtle Technique.

 

How to problem solve

When presented with interpersonal problem situations, some children, or all young children in some situations, find it difficult to think of alternative responses. We want children to learn problem solving steps, to be able to think of alternative solutions, and to learn that solutions have consequences.

VPK-age children can effectively be taught problem-solving skills. Young children learn problem solving step by step. Some published problem-solving curricula have as many as 11 steps, which can be too many steps for young children. Therefore, you should teach no more than a four step process.

There are four essential problem-solving steps for young children to learn and act on.

  1. What is my problem? Children should be taught to pay attention to their feelings as a first step in problem solving. When children are experiencing a negative emotion (e.g., anger or frustration), this feeling is the cue that they have a problem. This is why teaching young children an emotional vocabulary is an essential prerequisite skill to being an effective problem solver
  2. After children recognize that they have a problem, they next need to describe the problem. Adults and/or puppets can model the problem for children. Children can practice by looking at cards depicting a problem and describing what the problem is. Initially, children will need guidance to reframe defining the problem as the other person’s problem (“They won’t let me play.”) to their problem (“I want to play with them.”). This reframing, although subtle, will help children generate more appropriate solutions.
  3. What are some solutions? Young children need help generating multiple alternative solutions to interpersonal problems. A lot of time should be spent directly teaching children alternative solutions to common problems and having children generate solutions independently. At this point in the instructional process, the key is to teach children to generate as many solutions as they can think of rather than thinking of a solution that will work best.

Solution Kit strategy. What are some solutions? Young children need help generating multiple alternative solutions to interpersonal problems. A lot of time should be spent directly teaching children alternative solutions to common problems and having children generate solutions independently. At this point in the instructional process, the key is to teach children to generate as many solutions as they can think of rather than thinking of a solution that will work best.

Watch as these two different teachers take children through the solutions process. Notice the teacher’s strategies that keep the children engaged in the problem-solving process (lots of encouragement to keep trying, asking other children to help).

Example 1:

 

Example 2: 

 

4. What would happen next?  After children have experienced generating multiple alternative solutions to problems, they can begin to evaluate consequences. This strategy can be communicated to children in terms of “What would happen next?” Three questions can guide a child’s decision to determine if the consequences would be good or bad:

• Is the solution safe?

• Is the solution fair?

• How would everyone feel?

Understanding consequences can best be taught to children through role-playing. Children can generate a solution to a problem and then act it out with a puppet. The teacher can then prompt the child to think: Did anyone get hurt? Was it fair? How did you feel? How did the other person feel?

Several activities can be planned to reinforce problem-solving skills with relation to consequences.

Adults can “planfully sabotage” or “problematize” activities throughout the day and encourage children to generate solutions. For example, the teacher can bring one apple to the table for snack and say, “Oh my goodness! We have a problem. There is only one apple and five kids—what can we do?” The teacher can then encourage the children to generate as many different solutions as possible.

Adults can play “What would you do” with children. To play, the teacher thinks of and writes down several problems on slips of paper. These slips are then put in a bag and passed around the circle until the music stops. The child who is holding the bag when the music stops, selects a problem that an adult can read for the child. The child can then think of as many solutions as possible. He or she may even consult the “Solution Kit” if necessary.

Children can make their own solution kits by drawing different solutions to problems they have had. Some children may want to color pre-drawn solution cards. 

VPK Teachers can keep in mind the following five steps as they assist young children in the problem-solving process:

1. Anticipate problems.

 Expect problem situations to arise in your classroom. When over a dozen children are in a room with few adults and limited materials, it is natural for problems to occur. There will also be certain situations when the teacher can predict that there will more likely be a problem. For example, there is a new dinosaur toy in the block corner, and the teacher anticipates many children will want to play with it. Or the teacher notices that a boy in her class has a scowl on his face when he gets off the bus, which last time meant a very troublesome day. When teachers anticipate problems, they are available to support children when a problem occurs.

2. Seek proximity.

When a teacher is aware that a problem may ensue, seeking proximity is key. This strategy is not necessarily to prevent the problem from occurring, but to ensure that the teacher is close enough to begin prompting a child through the problem-solving steps. When the teacher notices a child getting agitated by remembering the “Turtle Technique”. Once a child is calm and the teacher is in proximity to support, the child will be ready to problem solve.

3. Support.

Young children will need support from the teacher to remember the problem-solving steps and to stay in the situation. Children who feel they are not skilled at problem solving will be prone to flee the situation. So, sometimes support means keeping the child physically in proximity to the other child or children involved. Support also means prompting the child through the problem-solving steps. This prompting can be done with the added support of visuals depicting the problem-solving steps. These visuals can be placed strategically around the room to remind children of the steps when an adult is not available.

4. Encourage.

It is almost a certainty that even good solutions don’t work all of the time. So, children need to be encouraged to keep trying to generate alternative solutions. When children cannot think of any more solutions, they can be prompted to look through a “solution kit.” The solution kit provides children with picture cues of various solutions to interpersonal problems. Show examples of some solution cards. Cards are available on the CSEFEL website. Children will need support to remain in the situation and to keep trying in the face of adversity. After each try, it is essential that an adult acknowledge a child’s efforts (“Wow! You have thought of two really good solutions! I know you have some other ideas.”) and encourage them to go on (“Boy, this is a tough problem, and you have thought of so many good solutions. You are such an amazing problem solver. What else can you think of?”).

5. Promote.

The last task to supporting a child’s “in the moment” problem-solving efforts is to reinforce the child’s success. This kind of promotion can be done in informal and formal ways. Informally, teachers can give children high-fives, thumbs-up, a wink, verbal acknowledgement of positive behavior, hugs, and so on. Formally, teachers can plan mini-celebrations when a child has done a great job of problem solving. These mini-celebrations send a clear message to all of the children in the class that peaceful persistence at problem solving is valued. It is not long after a teacher focuses on promoting problem solving before you see children supporting, encouraging, and promoting each other’s efforts.

Activity: Test your knowledge about how to support children’s anger, frustration, disappointment, and anger through problem solving.

Reflecting on what you have learned thus far, about teaching children to calm down and identify their feelings, what technique will you use to assist them with maintaining control?

  • How will you teach this technique?
  • In what way will the children practice what they have learned?
  • What tools will you use to reinforce it during the day?

Once children are calm, they will need to begin to learn to solve the problems that caused them to become frustrated.  How will you support problem solving using these strategies in your classroom?

  • Anticipate Problems - When teachers anticipate problems, they are available to support children when a problem occurs.
  • Seek Proximity - When a teacher is aware that a problem may ensue, seeking proximity is key.
  • Support - Young children will need support from the teacher to remember the problem-solving steps and to stay in the situation.
  • Encourage - Children need to be encouraged to keep trying to generate alternative solutions.
  • Promote - Supporting a child’s “in the moment” problem-solving efforts is to reinforce the child’s success.`

Knowing if you have taught effective strategies for dealing with anger, frustration, and disappointment?

VPK Children need our support and guidance in learning the explicit skills to interacting and reacting in pro-social ways. It is critical that we provide them with activities, lessons, and literature that teach them the essential skills of understanding emotions, regulating our own emotions, and figuring out solutions to complex life problems.

To know if you have done this in your classroom you will see evidence of children

  • Calming themselves with deep breaths or the turtle technique
  • Maintaining control and reserve their emotional outbursts
  • Seeking teacher assistance with problems
  • Developing solutions to immediate or future problems
  • Practicing negotiation skills 

In short, you will know because children are able to stay calm, evaluate the situation, and choice an appropriate strategy to solve their problem with and without adult support

Quiz: Strategies for dealing with anger, frustration, and disappointment

  1. Emotional literacy is:
    • When a person is emotionally drawn to the content of a story
    • Being competent and literate in their home language
    • The ability to identify, understand, and express emotions in a healthy way
    • The sole ability to be able to connect to others
  2. Direct teaching of emotional literacy involves
    •  planning specific activities/opportunities for children to increase their vocabulary related to emotions
    • State the names of emotions
    • Begin to discriminate how different facial expressions/emotions might look
    • A and C
  3. Indirect teaching of emotional literacy is when a teacher
    • Smiles at a child
    • Greets children upon dismissal and arrival
    • Plans specific activities that require children to use emotional literacy skills they have learned
    • provides emotion labels – “you’re happy” or “you’re frustrated” – as children experience various affective states
  4. You should use the following methods to teach emotional literacy utilize to promote identifying of emotions, labeling, practicing strategies, and reactions.
    • Role Playing Activities
    • Songs and Games
    • A & B
    • None of the Above
  5. Teachers should use illustrations of emotions displaying human reactions to
    •  Assist children in labeling, identifying, and reacting to the changing emotions in themselves and others.
    • Notify children of the dynamic and scary range of human emotion
    • Have children be cautious of those around them
    • Make them knowledgeable of child psychology
  6. Use of Children’s Literature is a necessary step to teach about emotions because it:
    • promotes future reading
    • is required in the VPK curriculum
    • also builds math skills
    • puts it in terms and a context that children can understand
  •  

Final Thoughts

Review in Developing the Socially and Emotionally Competent Child

As promised, this course has taken you through the importance of supporting children’s development of social and emotional competence. The emphasis has focused on teaching and practicing prosocial through specific and explicit instruction around friendship skills, emotional literacy, and how to handle anger and disappointment. Additionally, the suggested practices we provided are simple methods that can be done every day in the context of your busy classroom with limited preparation.

As you may recall we have discussed three key areas on which to focus when building a positive classroom environment.  They were:

  • Specific and explicit teaching of friendship skills
  • Developing emotional literacy
  •  Providing ways to manage and handle disappointment and anger

Further, we examined each of these areas by looking at:

  • The six key social skills that need to be taught: play organizers, sharing, being helpful as a team player, taking turns, giving compliments, and knowing when and how to give an apology. Additionally, we reviewed the best, easiest, and most effective ways to teach these skills.
  • Emotional literacy as a simple method to expose children to a variety of situations, emotions, perspectives, and reactions.
  • The complexity of handling frustration, anger, and disappointment and the simple techniques that can be taught to children so they understand the physical, chemical, and emotional responses so they can make wise choices about how to react. 

In Summary

Charge

With this new knowledge for which you have gained, reviewed and examined during this course, you are now ready to enjoy the journey of a applying what you have learned to create a VPK Classroom that supports children’s social and emotional development.

Final Assessment

 

  1. Implicit Instruction is when
    • You plan a lesson around the objective
    • You set up your environment to communicate a specific learning objective
    • You do not directly teaching something rather we imply it by our actions or guiding tone.
    • You are creating thematic unit
  2. Explicit Instruction is when you directly teach something to a child.  To do this you must
    • Identify what and why you are teaching
    • How to do what we are teaching
    • When to apply what you are teaching with  practice
    • All of the above
    • None of the above
  3. There are four stages of the learning process they affect “how” we teach these skills. Match the correct team to the correct explanation
    • Acquisition – When children learn how to do something new, they acquire new understandings about the skills or concepts. To support children’s acquisition of new skills, we need to explain and demonstrate the skill/concept and encourage children as they attempt to learn the skill. Skills can easily be lost at this stage – so encourage, encourage, encourage!
    • Fluency – Once children acquire a new skill, they need to be able to use the skill proficiently or fluently. We need to provide multiple opportunities for them to practice and master this skill/concept, as well as prompt children to use their new skills in new situations.
    • Maintenance – Once children are fluent with their new skills, they need to be able to use the skills (or “maintain” the skills) without support or prompting from an adult.
    • Generalization – When children apply their new skills to new situations, people, activities, and settings they demonstrate generalized use of these skills. For example, a child might learn a new skill at childcare and then generalize that skill by using it at home (a different setting) or a child might learn a new skill with a grandparent and generalize it by using it with their aunt (different people).
  4. What Social Skills do Children Need to be taught? There are six key social skills that children need to interact with other and make friends. They are:
    • Holding hands, cleaning up, playing together, smiling at others, helping a friend, and waiting for everyone to have a turn
    • Play Organizers, Sharing, Being Helpful and a Team Player, Taking Turns, Giving Compliments, and Knowing When and How to Give Apologies
    • Playing together, Helping a friend, Waiting for everyone to have a turn, Giving Compliments, Knowing When and How to Give Apologies and Sharing
    • All lists above are missing an element
  5. What is modeling when referring to teaching social skills:
    • The process of imitating others
    • The process of setting up a visual, verbal, and/or physical example in which you want other children to observe and practice
    • The process of showing your teaching style to other colleagues and professionals
    • The process of being a prototype in social circles
  6. What is priming, when teaching social skills?
    • Setting up the environment or an activity so that it is prepared to practice a newly learned skill
    • Teaching the best behaviors that a child should personify
    • The main strategy used in teaching an identified skill
    • None of the above
  7. Emotional literacy is:
    • When a person is emotionally drawn to the content of a story
    • Being competent and literate in their home language
    • The ability to identify, understand, and express emotions in a healthy way
    • The sole ability to be able to connect to others
  8. Direct teaching of emotional literacy involves
    •  planning specific activities/opportunities for children to increase their vocabulary related to emotions
    • State the names of emotions
    • Begin to discriminate how different facial expressions/emotions might look
    • A and C
  9. Indirect teaching of emotional literacy is when a teacher
    • Smiles at a child
    • Greets children upon dismissal and arrival
    • Plans specific activities that require children to use emotional literacy skills they have learned
    • provides emotion labels – “you’re happy” or “you’re frustrated” – as children experience various affective states
  10. You should use the following methods to teach emotional literacy utilize to promote identifying of emotions, labeling, practicing strategies, and reactions.
    • Role Playing Activities
    • Songs and Games
    • A & B
    • None of the Above
  11. Teachers should use illustrations of emotions displaying human reactions to
    •  Assist children in labeling, identifying, and reacting to the changing emotions in themselves and others.
    • Notify children of the dynamic and scary range of human emotion
    • Have children be cautious of those around them
    • Make them knowledgeable of child psychology
  12. Use of Children’s Literature is a necessary step to teach about emotions because it:
    • promotes future reading
    • is required in the VPK curriculum
    • also builds math skills
    • puts it in terms and a context that children can understand
  13. Emotional literacy is:
    • When a person is emotionally drawn to the content of a story
    • Being competent and literate in their home language
    • The ability to identify, understand, and express emotions in a healthy way
    • The sole ability to be able to connect to others
  14. Direct teaching of emotional literacy involves
    •  planning specific activities/opportunities for children to increase their vocabulary related to emotions
    • State the names of emotions
    • Begin to discriminate how different facial expressions/emotions might look
    • A and C
  15. Indirect teaching of emotional literacy is when a teacher
    • Smiles at a child
    • Greets children upon dismissal and arrival
    • Plans specific activities that require children to use emotional literacy skills they have learned
    • provides emotion labels – “you’re happy” or “you’re frustrated” – as children experience various affective states
  16. You should use the following methods to teach emotional literacy utilize to promote identifying of emotions, labeling, practicing strategies, and reactions.
    • Role Playing Activities
    • Songs and Games
    • A & B
    • None of the Above
  17. Teachers should use illustrations of emotions displaying human reactions to
    •  Assist children in labeling, identifying, and reacting to the changing emotions in themselves and others.
    • Notify children of the dynamic and scary range of human emotion
    • Have children be cautious of those around them
    • Make them knowledgeable of child psychology
  18. Use of Children’s Literature is a necessary step to teach about emotions because it:
    • promotes future reading
    • is required in the VPK curriculum
    • also builds math skills
    • puts it in terms and a context that children can understand 

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