*This post is significantly delayed as the summmit was in April! I'm eager to get writing again - so I have some backlog to contend with! Here's to strategic wellbeing breaks!
After a longer-than-intended hiatus from ENCOUNTERACT I was kickstarted back into action by attending a summit about 'Fostering Social and Emotional wellbeing in young children'. Hosted by the training organisation Educanda (more on them later!) in collaboration with Heart Matters Academy the summit balanced neuro-developmental theory with practical examples for teachers to use in their classroom.
For me, there were a few standout practical ideas that I would certainly adopt in my classroom. These ideas mostly made use of visual metaphors to embody and communicate emotional states, providing tools for children as young as 4 years old to understand and express their emotions. How amazing!
I loved the emphasis on meeting a child where they are at (be it in the throes of sadness or red hot anger) and also honouring them as capable and trustworthy beings. As a teacher and caregiver it is easy to fall into traps of belittling, undermining and trivialising children's feelings and experiences. It can be hard to believe that small children are really capable of processing and managing their emotions - but the truth is that this is something all humans start learning from birth, yet many adults still aren't capable of!
Even under the pressure of a dauntingly packed curriculum, I'd like to think that there is room in the average school day to at least plant the seeds of these ideas. And often seeds are all you need. The socio-emotional concepts that really took root in my Grade 1 classroom last year were almost all from songs or books that were encountered at the beginning of the year and simply adopted as part of our shared classroom vernacular. Teaching children 'about emotions' is a matter of building classroom culture, not administering prescription lessons.
It is not the teacher's job alone, no more their right, to teach their students flight or fight, to keep them always in their sight, or tell them wrong from right. Entrust them with their own toolkit and see them learning bit by bit, for ways of being take time to bloom, our job is to give them room.
A daunted but determined teacher irons out the creases of her brain.