In a nook in the back near the teacher’s desk, a cozy, safe place exists. It is a place to explore feelings. A place to regulate. A place to take a break and just be.
Welcome to Emily Brown’s preschool classroom.
Emily is a teacher dedicated to helping her students learn about, notice and practice their emotions.
“I used to teach kindergarten but I felt like I was unable to teach the academics. My students were lacking the ability to notice, name and tame their emotions. This is why I switched to pre-K - to help students prepare emotionally. After all, emotional intelligence helps academic intelligence, too.”
Lined with Generation Mindful’s Time-In-ToolKit posters, Emily created her classroom Calming Corner.
“I hung a mirror next to the 32 Feelings Face Poster so that the students could study their faces and then match their face and emotion to those on the poster. I hung the Calming Strategies poster, too. I set-up a cozy space with Orange Fox, sensory tools, books and a blanket my friend made that says ‘It’s ok to feel your feelings.”
Emily shared that she introduced her classroom Calming Corner by teaching one of GEN:M’s leading mantras: Mistakes help me learn and grow. “We colored the mistakes help me learn and grow worksheet. We talked about how mistakes were safe and that sometimes we need time to calm down our bodies.”
“My kids were loving our calming space, going there when they were mad or sad. But I noticed a funny trend -- they were only going there when they were upset. Some were even faking being mad or sad just to get time in the corner!” she says.
This had Emily relook at the way she was introducing the space to her classroom. “I re-explained that the Calming Corner could be used anytime. Yes, it's great to take a time-in when we are feeling mad or sad but we can also take one when we are feeling happy and calm.” She continues, “I wanted them to know that they could go there no matter what their starting emotion was to practice noticing and naming their feelings.”
Students are encouraged to visit the Calming Corner in this classroom, one at a time. Emily explains, “Children can go to the center anytime they want, but our classroom rule is one at a time,” Emily explains. “Before they go to the space, we use the My Feelings Card set and Activity Mat. They revisit this activity when they leave the space too.”
The Calming Corner isn’t the only way Emily teaches her students about emotions. Games such as Generation Mindful's Feelings BINGO are played during class time to help teach about the different emotions.
“Feelings BINGO was a hit. They were good at identifying and matching feelings. Now I want to move to the specific characteristics of each emotion and how they feel inside the body.”
Teaching about emotions isn’t just for the students, Emily admits. “As an adult, I never thought about emotions as being pleasant/high energy, unpleasant/high energy and so on. It's helped me as well.”
In using the time-in space, Emily’s classroom is growing together. Teachers and students alike are creating an environment where feelings are both mentionable and manageable.
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