As a top-rated preschool in Langley and Vancouver, one of the factors that distinguish Pebbles & Piaget is our thematically diverse curriculum. Our lessons help little ones to grow physically, cognitively, and emotionally. One of the most important lessons is modelling emotional intelligence and supporting its development in our students.
Emotional intelligence is essential because it’s linked to emotional regulation—finding healthy ways to explain and cope with emotional distress. Up to about ten, children primarily cope by using strategies to block out disturbing stimuli. For example, they may cover their ears during a thunderstorm. Emotional intelligence encompasses awareness, understanding, and the ability to express and manage emotions. While preschool might seem a bit young, it’s still an excellent time to begin laying the foundation for emotional intelligence by helping little ones to learn about feelings, what causes them, and how they change.
Emotional intelligence lays the bedrock for future success. Studies have found that children with higher emotional intelligence are more focused and engaged with their lessons. Further, they cultivate more positive relationships and become more empathetic at school and home.
Broadly five skills are taught to increase emotional intelligence:
- Recognizing and respective emotions in oneself and others;
- Labelling emotions accurately
- Understanding causes and consequences
- Expressing feelings in ways that are appropriate and respectful
- Regulating emotions
Teaching emotions to three, four, and five-year-olds must be done in an age-appropriate way. For example, exploring the feelings of a character in a story. Another tactic is to get children to express themselves in different ways. How does a little one respond when asked how they’re feeling? Is the answer something like good or fine? Getting them to use words like scared, excited, worried, or mad can gradually help shift conversations, get them to really consider how they’re feeling and open up more nuanced responses. Finally, we use our own emotional intelligence to get little ones to talk about theirs—“I see you’re crossing your arms. I sometimes do that when I’m angry or upset. How are you feeling? What caused you to feel this way?”
Early learning has primarily focused on academic achievement in childhood–emotions and self-regulation have been largely ignored. As pioneers in early education, we believe emotional intelligence is another strategy that scaffolds academic and personal success. Children who can successfully navigate emotions and inhibit emotionally driven impulses find it easier to avoid distractions and engage in healthy relationships to accomplish long-term goals.
By working with experienced and certified instructors and caregivers who take the time to recognize feelings, elaborate on causes, and jointly brainstorm potential strategies to shift or maintain feelings, we work to create a climate of supportive learning at our preschools in Langley and Vancouver.