learning to read faces

Parent Wishes #16: Supporting Social-Emotional Development in Young Children

More support for learning challenges is one parent’s wish and that includes supporting social-emotional development in young children at home and school. School could mean daycare, play groups, preschool, and kindergarten.

rough and tumble play

It’s hard to separate social—dealing with others, and emotional—coping with feelings, because they are so linked. More and more, research is showing us that social and emotional skills and strategies affect how well children cope in school. One of the best resources for kids as they learn basic social skills is play. As children interact with others they practice sharing, taking turns, waiting, and solving differences and playing without hurting. Kids build relationships and figure out how to care for other people.

When figuring out emotions, it is really helpful for adults to name emotions for kids. When we see a child is happy, we can say, “I see you are happy. Your face is smiling.” Doing the same thing for feeling sad, scared, anxious, angry, and frustrated, links the word and the emotion. That way kids can tell us what they are feeling. Having the words for emotions is key to understanding them and to expressing them. As children play, they will explore these emotions. During imaginative play, they may pretend they are frightened or brave, angry or upset, excited and silly.

super-hero play

Besides play, explaining our behavior gives clues about social interactions and feelings. Children will learn by watching and imitating the adults around them.

Two playful activities for supporting social-emotional development in young children are to make faces. Kids enjoy making different expressions in a mirror and showing them to us. What does your happiest face look like? How about your saddest? This helps for learning to read faces. Sing “If You’re Happy and You Know It” and add verses  for other feelings. What action would you do for “If you’re sad and you know it?” or “if you’re scared and you know it?”soecial-emotional-development

Are there some play activities your child might do today for social and emotional development?


Kids Need Face Time for Social & Emotional Development

Children need face time, for their social and emotional development and for kindergarten readiness. Last month, on Learn and Play with Mrs. A, I interviewed a military mom, Judy Davis, about young children in military families. One topic we discussed was some strategies to help children cope when one or both parents is away from home. Judy mentioned a special doll that has a clear pocket over the face where kids can slide in a photo of their mom or dad. This helps young children feel closer to the absent parent and maintain the connection.social and emotional development of young children

Military families are not the only ones with a parent who may be away for days, weeks, or months at a time. There are Hope dolls, Breast Cancer dolls, and ones that say I Love You printed all over, also with a pocket for sliding in a picture of a face. These dolls meet a need of young children. Simply put, kids need face time.

Faces have a tremendous amount of information for young brains to deal with. Plus, expressions and other characteristics, such as hairstyle or glasses, change. Learning to recognize faces is a memory challenge. Figuring out what facial expressions mean, requires that children know about emotions and feelings. These are part of the social and emotional skills that will help children interact with others and develop their kindergarten readiness. When children start kindergarten, they will have a greater level and demand of independent connecting and interacting.

Faces connect us to each other. Last weekend was the long weekend in Canada for Victoria Day; this weekend is the long weekend in the US for Memorial Day. In both countries, the long weekend is often a time to get together with families and friends. For some, it is a time to remember the face of someone who is longer here. To learn about faces, kids need lots of face-to-face experiences. Are there some ways to give your child some face time today?

P.S. Just got this from Robin Boyd at Military Mom Talk Radio:

Your blog was wonderful – it reminded me how I used to take magazine pages that had a big face and put them in a clear plastic notebook sleeve and stick it near my baby’s swing or bassinette… I remember watching them “talk” to the face… and I’d change it out when I’d find another neat face. (long before computers) Talking about face-to-face time, I remember engaging my babies with whatever chores I was doing – I’d talk out loud no matter what I was doing… reading a recipe, looking up something in the phone book, assembling something… By verbalizing my thought processes, it was a patterning of sorts in their development… and by talking to them by doing it was including them in my chores or work. My goodness, that was a bit ago! I loved every stage of their development, and I love them now as adults….

Kindergarten Readiness ABC`s – F is for Feelings and Faces

Did you know that helping your child learn about feelings and faces is very supportive for playdates, preschool, and kindergarten readiness? Interactions with family members and friends will involve feelings and emotions. Kids need to learn what their feelings are and the words to talk about them.

Learning the names of basic feelings is more than just matching. Kids often need adults to identify or label these feelings for them. For instance, we might need to say to a child “I see that you are sad. Are you feeling sad because your toy broke??” to help a little one understand how s/he feels. Or, “I notice a scowl on your face, kind of a stormy look. That tells me you might be feeling pretty angry. Is that what you are feeling?” Commenting on a child’s feelings, gives the child words that s/he does not yet know and helps make the connection between the words and the feelings. It’s easier for kids to talk about feelings when they know the words.

Some emotions to identify or label for kids might include: happy, sad, angry, scared, surprised, silly, disappointed and calm. Especially calm, so when we ask kids to calm down they know what calm is! Sometimes, when we talk about feelings, we say that we are feeling bad or good. Bad can also mean wrong and that can be confusing for children. They wonder if “bad” feelings like sad and angry are wrong. Using the words “comfortable”or “uncomfortable” feelings can avoid that confusion,.

Faces give clues about emotions but being able to tell what someone else is feeling from their facial expressions takes practice. For a play-of-the-day, here is an idea using food to make faces that show feelings. Or instead of food, making playdough faces is fun, but don’t eat them!  Or making faces in the mirror. Or reading a story about feelings. What else can you and your child do for feelings and faces and fun?

Readiness for Kindergarten – The Many Faces of Learning

Maybe that title should read Learning to Make Many Faces. Valentine’s was a great time to start some posts on social and emotional development in young children. Yesterday the topic was helping kids learn the names of their feelings and emotions by supplying the words. When we see children showing a particular response we can … Continue reading Readiness for Kindergarten – The Many Faces of Learning