What can I do to support young children's emotional literacy?
Evidenced-Based Practices Supporting Young Children’s Emotional Literacy
- Healthy expression of emotions by adults
- Labeling and concrete descriptions of “all” emotions felt by adults and children
- Acknowledging and encouraging pro-social behaviors
- Visual supports
- Planned activities to teach and reinforce emotional literacy
There's a great deal of research now on good, solid, evidence-based practices to support children's emotional literacy that wasn’t available 10 years ago.
What we do know is important is that children need to be in environments in which adults themselves have a healthy expression of their emotions. It’s important that the children aren't seeing and hearing sarcasm among the adults or arguing among the adults. This supports children's literacy.
Labeling and concretely describing emotions works well to support young children’s emotional literacy. I'll show you examples of a couple of boards that are emotion boards that we've created that work very well in classrooms. If you go to Pinterest you're also going to see how a lot of people are very creative in ways to help children express their emotions or label their emotions.
It's important to catch kids being good. Catch them using pro-social behaviors. When someone is sharing, comment on it. For example, "You gave that toy to ______" or "You took a turn with the swing.” Another example is to say, "That was really nice to do that for your friend” or "You're reading a book with your friend. That's really cool that you guys are sharing a book."
There’s so much research to show that using visual supports helps young children. There’s a quote I really like that illustrates this. “I hear, I forget. I see, I remember. I do, I understand.” We should keep that in mind with small children. The visual supports help them remember.
Planned activities help them understand and reinforce emotional literacy for young children.
This Ask the Expert is an edited excerpt from the course, Supporting Young Children's Social-Emotional Literacy - Part 1, by Pamelazita Buschbacher, EdD, CCC-SLP.