Parents and caregivers often ask what young children need to know before kindergarten; this is the sixth in a series of blog posts on kindergarten readiness and early learning basics. No matter the age of your little one, this will give you a general picture of what to do as your child’s very first teacher.
The world can be a confusing place for children but sometimes emotions are hard even for adults to figure out. The early years between the ages of new and 5 or 6 years old are especially sensitive for learning about emotions and how to control them. Children’s emotions can help or hinder their learning and also impact memory. We all remember events more clearly if they were particularly happy or frightening.
To support children as they learn about emotions, it’s helpful if we can name the emotions for them. When we notice that a child is very happy we can say we see they are happy. If a child is feeling out of sorts, we may have some information for them, “Your face looks very sad. Are you feeling sad because your toy broke?” For children to be able to talk about their feelings, they need to know the words. Some important ones are: happy, sad, scared, surprised, angry, silly and especially calm. How can we ask kids to calm down if they do not know what calm means?
We also need to help children figure out what another person might be feeling by looking at faces for clues. Making faces is a fun game to play, or looking at faces in picture books. Recognition of facial expressions is an important part of relationships and communication. Children’s drawings often include a mouth that is up or down depending on the emotion. Have you used any resources such as books, toys or games that are helpful for children to learn about emotions?