Social & Emotional Health: Children’s social and emotional health affects their overall development and learning. Research indicates that children who are mentally healthy tend to be happier, show greater motivation to learn, have a more positive attitude toward school, more eagerly participate in class activities, and demonstrate higher academic performance than less mentally healthy peers.
Here are 3 ways we boost our students’ emotional health.
1. Respecting and caring about every child.
Showing respect is a key way to connect with children and strengthen positive relationships. It helps children feel more confident and competent to explore and learn. Establish and maintain close personal bonds with every child in the classroom by consistently acting in respectful and caring ways.
- Listen with full attention and restate what children say (often also seizing the opportunity to expose the children to new vocabulary). When teachers actively listen to children, they convey that they care about what the children have to say, and the children are more likely to share their thoughts, ideas, feelings, and stories.
- Spends private, quality time with individual children through one-on-one activities, such as story reading and game playing. Spend quality time with individual children by putting aside other work, moving to the child’s level, and conversing openly with the child. When the teacher speaks with each child regularly, it deepens their relationship and builds trust (Gartrell 2007). We can find time for these conversations throughout the day, especially during greeting, free play, snack, lunch, and departure time.
2. Prioritise developing social and emotional skills.
Helping children develop social and emotional skills is the heart and soul of any good program for young children (Gordon & Browne 2014). Teachers (and all caregivers) play key roles in helping children develop social and emotional competence (Kostelnik et al. 2015). Teachers can intentionally support children’s social and emotional health by using children’s books, planning activities, coaching on the spot, giving effective praise, modeling appropriate behaviors, and providing cues.
Warmth and affection—even on bad days and when children are misbehaving—are critical to children’s well-being in early education.
3. Accept and reflect every student’s feelings.
A teacher’s acknowledgement makes them feel heard and accepted. As a result, they feel safe to express their emotions – and receive support in identifying, labeling and better understanding their emotions.
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