In keeping with the Seed’s emergent curriculum model, our week of learning about feelings is gathering inspiration from the heat wave. The first and second graders used the high temperatures to launch a project called, “How I Feel In Arizona’s Summer Heat.” Their visual images certainly express how many of us feel these days, especially the teachers after having to keep a school full of energetic children inside for most of the week. The 1st/2nd graders’ collages, I might add, also contain a sense of humor, an excellent coping skill for dealing with the heat.
Summer heat is expected in Arizona and it gives us practice with managing our feelings, just as the “hot spots” in our lives help us learn patience, understanding, and empathy. Our week two focus on feelings and expressing them through the arts provides a foundation for children to gain self-awareness and eventually greater awareness of others and their needs. It’s the beginning of social justice. Our very smallest toddlers experience, often with great feelings of passion, the joys and frustrations of learning to share a toy. Their curriculum is all about learning from their kind, supportive teachers how to manage feelings as they gain confidence in a new setting.
The hallway is filled with self-portraits expressing a variety of feelings. Books about feelings ranging from happy to mad open up preschool conversations and give children language to describe what they are experiencing. Providing this type of conversation helps children be healthier emotionally and it serves as the foundation for how they will relate to others in their future lives. For example, when children receive training in how to be empathetic, they are more likely to grow up to be compassionate, caring adults. (http://www.rootsofempathy.org) Children who grow up in environments that value and support emotional growth are more likely to be adequately prepared to face challenges, either their own or those of others.
With a foundation like this, as children move into their elementary years, they are ready for a social justice curriculum that, among other things, involves delving into history and current events. In the coming weeks, they will learn about artists who have used their talents to express feelings about social injustices. The children will begin to know that they have a voice, too, and their feelings about changes that need to happen are important. Hopefully they will come to understand that the world needs them to step up, and they’ll want to because they care.
For more on the emergent curriculum: https://www.awakeningseedschool.org/parents/prospective-parents/