I have another rant.
Last time I focused on how adults underestimate children’s cognitive skills. This time, I'd like to talk about how adults tend to overestimate children’s social-emotional skills.
Young children have big emotions. It is simultaneously a beautiful and frustrating thing. How many of you can relate to one (or more) of these experiences?
It can be hard as a teacher (or a parent for that matter), to understand, acknowledge, and support children as they learn to regulate their emotions and behaviors. It takes a lot of energy and our own emotion regulation.
I think we sometimes forget how important emotion regulation (or emotional intelligence) is as well as how long it takes to develop. Neurological research shows that the part of the brain that regulates emotions and behaviors (the frontal lobe) isn’t fully developed until young adulthood. Even older children and teenagers have trouble identifying their emotions and deciding how to behave appropriately.
Nevertheless, we expect children as young as two or three to remember the rule the first time we say it. We expect children to be able to keep their emotions in check and not get upset when someone else takes a toy. We expect children to be happy at all times, even during stressful situations.
But these expectations are not realistic and may even be harmful for kids, depending on how harshly we react to their big emotions.
“So often children are punished for being human. Children are not allowed to have grumpy moods, bad days, disrespectful tones, or bad attitudes. Yet, us adults have them all the time. None of us are perfect. We must stop holding our children to a higher standard of perfection than we can attain ourselves.” - Rebecca Eanes
Thankfully, if we can keep our expectations in check, there are ways to start supporting children’s emotional and social development. Here are some ways that we can support young children’s developing emotions.
So, let’s start taking a step back and expect humanness rather than perfection from the children in our care. And let’s find ways to respond with sensitivity and support to children as they develop crucial emotional and social skills.
What about you? How do you have appropriate expectations of children’s emotional development? How do you support children’s emotion regulation?
Do you have fond childhood memories of sitting with a special adult and listening to them read one of your favorite stories? I vividly remember my dad reading The Elephant’s Child by Rudyard Kipling to me and how we laughed together at the funny voices he used. As an educator, you know how important those moments are for building warm connections, enjoying time together, and learning about many things. So, even if you missed out on those moments as a child, you want to create those moments for the children in your classroom. With careful planning, you can be confident that your read-alouds will be exciting, effective learning opportunities.
The majority of early childhood classrooms have at least one child who is a dual language learner (DLL) and this population is growing. One in three children from birth to age six speak a language besides English at home. Consequently, the majority of teachers need strategies on how to best support this group of students. We reached out to Veronica Fernandez, Developmental Psychologist and Research Scientist at the University of Miami for strategies she’s found most successful.
As part of our Teacher Spotlight series, we recently asked the CLASS Community to nominate a teacher whose high-quality classroom interactions are making a difference for their dual language learners. Our winner, Kim Schoell, has been teaching for 20 years and is currently a Pre-K teacher in Frederick County, VA. 67% of her students are Hispanic and many of the children are dual language learners.
When COVID-19 hit and schools shut down, many of us were certain that it would not impact the 2020-21 school year. But with the pandemic surging and some schools opening up - only to shut down again, it’s clear that COVID is still with us. The length of the pandemic has only heightened concern about COVID related learning loss - especially among underserved populations.