Last year, I attended a two-part district professional development opportunity to explore a social-emotional learning program called The Feeling Words Curriculum. This curriculum “empowers students and teachers to describe the full range of human emotions.” In Kindergarten especially, one of our main goals is to begin to recognize and label our emotions. (On our way to developing self-awareness and empathy.) I hope to start exploring this program in our class soon!
Here’s a quick look at the value of emotional literacy for school from psychologist and brain researcher, Daniel Goleman.
Students in Division 19 have been learning about feelings and mindfulness. We began with exploring our Todd Parr “Feelings Cards” to begin to name and define feelings. Then, as part of a three step process to develop our own Classroom Charter, we discussed how we want to feel when we come to school. We agreed on six feelings words: included, happy, playful, friendly, brave, and silly (sometimes!).
The next step was to brainstorm ways we can show that we are feeling this way. Below is our brainstorm:
Our next step, that we will continue to work on, is what to do if we make a mistake and hurt someone’s feelings (because as we all know, we all make mistakes, and we learn from them!). Stay tuned for an “official”copy of our Classroom Charter to come home soon!
We also began our MindUp program by learning about the brain. We learned about 3 important parts of the brain: the amygdala (our little animal/security guard), the hippocampus (our memory keeper), and the pre-frontal cortex or PFC (the decision maker). Sometimes our little animal is feeling scared, or frustrated, or “untamed” and using practices like mindful breathing help to “tame” our animal and calm ourselves down in order to make good choices.
Below is the video we watched to accompany our MindUp lesson:
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Each morning, during Community Circle, we celebrate and appreciate the things that mean the most to us and the things that we are grateful for. We began this special time by reading a story “The Most Thankful Thing” by Lisa McCourt. It is about a mother and daughter going through the mother’s life to see all the things she is grateful for. (Turns out her most thankful thing is… her daughter!)
We use our “Gratitude Stone” and everyone gets a turn to share one thing s/he is grateful for. There are many benefits of gratitude that lead to happiness and Harvard Healthbeat says:
In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.
Ask your child what s/he is grateful for? What are you grateful for? Perhaps try sharing your gratitude with your child…
Friday was International Dot Day and we celebrated by reading a book by Peter H. Reynolds called, The Dot. The Dot taught us about something called a “growth mindset”. Stanford psychology professor, Carol Dweck, talks about a “fixed mindset vs a growth mindset”. (See chart below) In The Dot, Vashti is frustrated and thinks she can’t draw but soon embarks on a journey of self-discovery, beginning with one little dot…We will be practicing developing our growth mindset this year in Kindergarten. We will try to stay away from saying “I can’t do it!” to: “I can’t do it… YET!” and “I can try.” Here are some questions that I will use in class to help reflect on our learning and develop a growth mindset in our young learners:
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School has officially begun! I hope you and your children enjoyed the first few days of Kindergarten. It looks like we have a wonderful, loving, eager, curious, and sweet group of children in our class. I am so pumped for our year together! That said, I don’t know about you, but I am hanging on to the last bit of Summer before Fall rolls around. As always, enjoy your time together with your children as we ease our way in to the full days of Kindergarten ahead.