What do you think is the number one thing I teach in my classroom? If people know my background, you might say “Of course! You mostly teach letters, numbers, literacy, shapes and colors?” Nope. Other people – mostly from my hometown – might say “Are you teaching them about computers and cameras?” No, but I do take a lot of pictures.
The number one thing I teach in the classroom revolve around emotions and how we handle them during social situations. And, when I’m not teaching emotions and social skills directly, I am reinforcing the behaviors everyday.
One of the best trainings that I ever received – which has had the greatest impact on me as a preschool teacher – is CSEFEL. Okay, here’s the long name: Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (I had to go to the website and copy – paste) For the sake of my weary fingers, we’ll just call it CSEFEL from now til the end of time.
CSEFEL shares how preschool teachers can teach children about their emotions and, for my classroom, that starts with Feeling Flowers. That probably sounds all fuzzy, warm and cuddly. Hah! Anything but. First, I show the children the Feeling Flowers. Then, when the children stop laughing at the large man holding paper flowers on popsicle sticks, I get into teaching. There are 10 flowers (maybe 12 on the website). Each flower has one emotion, such as happy, sad, mad and so forth. Let me give you some situations:
Happy Flower: “I like how you’re giving the snail some grass to eat. You’re being really nice.”
Sad Flower: “Where did the snail go?…. huh?… you ate what?”
Happy Flower: “I really like your drawing. You used three colors: red, blue, and green.”
Mad Flower: “I know you’re mad that he drew on your picture, but that doesn’t mean we color his clothes… or his face.”
Happy Flower: “Aw-right! We made it to the bathroom! Whew, that was close.”
Embarrassed Flower: “Ohhhhh! Accident. The block area is closed boys and girls.”
Whatever the situation, I will show a feeling flower to show children how they’re feeling. They’ve only been alive for three or four years. Everything is a new experience and this includes experiencing happiness, sadness, anger, frustration, and all kinds of new feelings. Teachers teach, and teachers need to teach children what emotions are and how we handle them.
So, you do this: “Hey, when you saw that he drew on you’re paper, you got really mad (show mad flower). When we’re mad (show mad flower) we can tell teacher about what happened. We can work together to make things better!”
Children can learn a lot of things when we talk. But, when we talk and show something, they learn better. Like, you can tell someone about a banana, apple, or orange. But, for someone who has never seen it, it’s much better to just show them. When you show a child a feeling flower, you’re showing them the expression on their face. This is a great teaching tool and lays the foundation for teaching emotions. There’s more and I encourage checking out the CSEFEL website here. There’s all kinds of good stuff there. So, when you get all mad flower because children are eating snails and giving face tattoos, you have some teacher tools to work with.
Ahhh….that’s relaxing flower goodness.