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Emotional Literacy - How can it be taught?

Updated on February 16, 2015

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Emotional Literacy Education

Emotional Literacy Education

In today’s society little emphasis is put on emotional states of students, employees, teachers and humans at large. Most are expected to keep their emotions inside, under wraps and under control. No attention is paid, even in families, unless a person is out of control or letting their emotions unfurl in dramatic episodes. This method of dealing, or not dealing with emotions, has got to stop if we are to move forward as an enlightened society.

Emotional Literacy is reading the feelings and emotions of oneself and others, and acting accordingly. We need to acknowledge emotions, allow emotions and release emotions. We can learn to be more familiar with them, in order to understand them.

In the setup of the class, the concentration of the group is on Emotional Literacy. Even this simple step lends itself to the task of becoming aware because we are setting up a space to acknowledge emotions. Children are taught lessons on how to interact with emotions through games and fun activities.

Just how we enable our selves to be emotionally literate is the question at hand. I can volunteer my answer to this question in having studied emotions in sessions with my private clients, in my self and in my students who completed my first ever Emotional Literacy Kids Course. Allow me to explain.

Familiarity with the terms of emotions - the descriptive words - was a big step forward because it put tools into the hands of the children who may have had trouble describing what they were feeling. Simple and common words were utilized to discuss emotions. Then, we moved toward a scaling of those that felt good and those that felt not so good. Each student was encouraged to allow, acknowledge and accept any way they were feeling, at any time, and to seek to know more.

For example: I presented The Emotional Guidance Scale from the work of Esther Hicks, with graduated feelings starting with JOY and going the length to that of FEAR. In between are common words we discussed with varying levels of density and weight. This was clear in tonal voice changes as we read aloud from the scale. Each child could hear the difference, the dissonance, as we read from JOY to FEAR and again back up to JOY.

Our class focused around matching terms, using everyday pictures to match feelings, grading emotions, speaking of moments in feeling this emotion or that emotion, the changing of emotion in a more positive emotion - in oneself or another. Empathy develops simply by acknowledging that each person deserves to be heard and allowed space to exist. The essential teaching is that feelings or emotions are our friends, our tools, and they are to be respected for the information they are there to give.

This simplistic but thoughtful allowing and accepting of who we are and how we feel, made space for each child to feel valued, heard and accepted by peers. There is more curriculum that can be created revolving around the simple principles of sharing, providing space to feel, and listening with open hearts.

The teacher's manual for Emotional Literacy for Kids is now available at Createspace and Amazon. This teacher's course handbook compiles the lesson plans for all six 2-hour lessons into a handbook for teachers in classrooms and in homes.

Cassandra Lea Wilson

The Horizon Centre


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