These children need language. They need words. They need a way to identify more than their mistakes, or the mistakes of others. They need emotional self-awareness. Just as with their command of their native spoken language, they learn through modeling, and direct instruction, and practicing. Here are a few ideas for fluidly and easily encouraging emotional intelligence in the way you are already teaching and interacting with children:
*During the beginning of a group lesson, have children hold up an emoji card that shows how they’re feeling. Take it a step further by encouraging them to say something this emoji face would say. (emotional self-awareness)
*When you’ve made a mistake, say it aloud. “Oops! I made a mistake. I guess I need to try that again!” Take it a step further by saying aloud, “Hmm. Who could I ask for help in learning how to do this better?” (accurate self-assessment)
*Reward children for trying something new, or making an effort at something that may be difficult for them. Reward them not for the outcome, but for the action and intent. (personal power)
*When reading a book or telling a story, pause before reading or telling how a character felt after an interaction or event. Invite students to make a guess as to how the character might feel, and/or how they might feel or react. (empathy)
*When handling a disciplinary issue, consider beginning by asking the child what they perceive as your role as the teacher, and then asking the child what they see as their role. Invite him or her to offer what gifts, talents, or abilities they have that could benefit the class and/or situation. (situational awareness)
*Be cautious with saying “yes,” knowing that you’re making a promise you must keep. But at the same time, say “no” to students only when absolutely necessary. Instead, offer discussion, clarification, compromise, consideration, and substitution when you can’t say yes. (service orientation)
Jenny has taught kindergarten and high school, has volunteered with children in numerous capacities, and has been in ministry for over 13 years. Jenny is passionate about Jesus, about children, and about equipping adults to see and interact with children as the incredible humans they are.
To contact her, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.