Sorry for the lateness of the newsletter...I spiked a fever on Saturday and have been in bed most of the weekend. It is gone now but I am still catching up!
It was a wonderful week in Room 6. The weather was beautiful and the students enjoyed going out to see a play. The consensus was unanimous...they loved it! Some of our students even had the opportunity to go up onto the stage. Many of the students asked if we could do on more field trips. We do have two more events, but I am hoping that we can talk more walks in the hills and do some observations. I will keep you updated.
On Friday, we had the opportunity to do wood exploration with Dustin, Tracie and Teresa. Earlier in the day we had read a book about leprechauns and fairies and the students were excited to create a fancy place, sort of like a hotel, for the little magical creatures. With the adults help, each student created a "room" that will be eventually put together into a bigger space. Some of the students even had the idea to add a roller coaster (with the help of our big buddies) to make it more fun! Hopefully we will make our space so entertaining that the leprechauns will not notice that we have a few traps laying around. Speaking of traps...the point of building the leprechaun hotel is to lure in and capture the little guys, right? This is not mandatory, but if your son or daughter is interested, they can build traps to try to capture a leprechaun. We will be settling traps on the 15th as St. Patrick's Day is on Friday, March 17th and there is no school. We heard (wink, wink) that all the leprechauns need to back home on the 17th so we hope they can make an appearance early!
We All Get Angry Sometimes
Posted on responsiveclassroom.org/we-all-get-angry-sometimes/ on 4/15/2013
Natasha hurls a block when her carefully constructed tower falls down. Jose’s flower drawing fails to resemble what he envisioned. Ripping up his paper, he stomps away.
Abby tells Zara she can’t join a math game. Zara scowls and shoves her classmate.
Welcome to a fairly typical afternoon in my classroom, where hard-to handle emotions can quickly bubble up and disrupt even the best-planned activities.
Just as we help children recognize letters and patterns, manage their belongings, and control their movements, we must also help them identify and manage their emotions. Such self-regulation preserves social relationships and fosters fully engaged learning.
Of course, upsets are inevitable, but even very young children can learn to self-regulate when permitted to feel difficult emotions and supported in developing appropriate responses. Here’s how I teach these skills to my students.
First, stop the misbehavior.
This is always our first step. Positive time-out can be highly effective in stopping misbehavior and letting the child self-calm in a way that doesn’t feel punitive.
Later, validate emotions.
Feeling angry or frustrated is perfectly OK, but children often think it’s not. They may feel ashamed of and debilitated by these strong emotions. Once a child is calm, validating her emotions is key to helping her find ways to express them safely. Here are three ways to do this validation:
Share when you felt similar feelings or noticed someone else in a similar situation: “Sometimes we feel disappointed or frustrated when we can’t draw exactly what we see.” Such empathic statements help children understand and develop a story to go with their feelings. These skills help them better manage strong feelings in the future.
Young children often oversimplify, using words such as “glad,” “sad,” “bad,” or “mad” to describe their feelings. Help students build a richer vocabulary by identifying and naming a wider array of feelings. For example, once a child is calm, I might say, “I noticed you crunching up your face and pressing hard with your pencil during writing time. You looked really frustrated.”
A caution about trying to identify feelings too soon: Asking a distressed child, “How do you feel about that?” may get you only a blank stare. That blank stare indicates exactly what is going through a child’s mind at that moment: He has no idea what he is feeling or why he pinched a classmate. When pressed, he might squeak out, “I was mad!” Giving a little “wait time” for strong feelings to dissipate helps him focus on his experience and profit from your words.
Reading picture books and identifying characters’ feelings by their body language and the book’s colors can also help build vocabulary and emotional context for identifying feelings. I frequently read aloud picture books about children who feel angry or frustrated. Recently, I asked students why they thought I shared these books. One child said, “You don’t want us to get angry with our friends.” This was an opportunity for me to explain, “No, I don’t expect you not to get angry. We all get angry sometimes. What’s important is learning how to do something to help yourself feel better when you get angry, so we can all go on learning.” Then we brainstormed and practiced choices kids can make when they begin feeling upset or losing control.
3. Encourage expression
Children benefit from a quiet space in which to appropriately and safely express upset feelings through writing, drawing, song, or movement. In the art studio, a choice of malleable clay or cool and warm paint colors and various brushes encourages open-ended artwork that helps express emotions. In the pretend corner, props that encourage safe and developmentally appropriate exploration of roles and feelings let children express emotions using verbal and nonverbal language.
All children will experience disappointment, loss, and upsetting events, so the sooner they develop coping strategies, the better prepared they’ll be to bounce back and resume learning in—and outside—the classroom.