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Social-Emotional Learning in Kindergarten

June 15, 2020 | Bridget O'Dowd

You may have heard your child talking about his or her magnet at school. This is referring to the mood meter in both the Water and Earth classrooms.

After Christmas break, we started to talk about feelings, recognizing our own emotions, and sharing strategies to help us when we are feeling a certain way.

This quest for emotional intelligence and the mood meter were inspired by the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence’s RULER program. This stands for recognizing, understanding, labeling, expressing, and regulating emotions.

After introducing the mood meter and its four quadrants, students shared some words they might be when feeling in each color. They also brainstormed times when it would be a benefit to be in each color. None of the emotions are described as negative as sometimes we need to feel frustrated to build perseverance and stand up for what’s right, and sometimes we need to feel sad to develop empathy.

As we’ve read more books with emotional terms, the children have decided where that emotion would fit on the chart, giving them some unique feeling words such as bashful, zany, or quarrelsome.

Each morning after planning, children are invited to put their magnet on the chart. This is something many children are excited to do and it is a great way to check in before the day begins.

As the day moves on, children have more opportunities to move their magnet. Many children often feel torn between a few emotions and place themselves in the middle of 2 or even all 4 emotions.

The children have shared strategies with each other of what they do when they feel angry, sad, energetic, or calm. Many of them have suggested deep breaths, positive self talk (“Maybe next time” or “I know I can do it”), finding a friend to talk to or getting a drink of water.

You can help your child be more aware of his or her emotions at home by naming your own emotion and sharing aloud what you do to help when you are feeling that way. The next time you’re feeling overwhelmed with your many tasks say, “I’m feeling really overwhelmed. I’m going to take 10 deep breaths and then I’m going to start with the first step.” or “I’m feeling really frustrated that I dropped this carton of eggs on the floor. I’m going to clean it up, then go on a short walk to help me relax.”

Bridget O'Dowd

Ms. O’Dowd came to Mustard Seed in 2017, after moving to Hoboken in 2016. She found a school and a community all in one package at Mustard Seed! Having taught kindergarten in Illinois before moving to New Jersey, Ms. O’Dowd has a passion for five-year-olds. She’s delighted to be a part of the kindergarten team and loves to read and share in story with students. Her favorite moment of the day is during a good read aloud, when she looks out and sees the faces of children showing empathy and emotion in response to the story. Ms. O’Dowd’s hobbies include exploring new neighborhoods, watching BBC documentaries, traveling to visit family, and eating her way through New York City.

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