Heart-Mind Online video: Storytime – Exploring our Feelings
Emotional literacy provides children with the skills to manage their feelings. Developing an emotional vocabulary allows them to express their feelings and reduce the frustrations of being misunderstood, and has a direct impact on the neuro-transmitters in the brain. If a child can find the correct word to describe a feeling of frustration, soothing neuro-transmitter are released by the brain to assist in calming down. Learning to recognize and express emotions helps children with self-regulation, problem solving, and effective interaction with others.
The 3-minute video from Heart Mind Online shows Steven Pedersen, an early childhood educator at a Strong Start Education Centre, reading to the children in his program and talking about their experience of identifying and relating to feelings in others, through face-to-face interaction with the verbal, physical and vocal cues of the reader.
Steven chooses books that express an emotional arc, but with only a few words, allowing range of emotion to be demonstrated through vocal tone, facial expression, and body language. He says, “I find that reading stories to children is a great way to give them stories about situations that happen, resilience, even feelings that they may not realize might happen to them: what does anxiety look like, what does sadness look like, what does happiness look like.”
He talks about the importance of reading the same story many times with pre-schoolers, commenting, “If you read it many times, they can get the message in the story, they remember that story when a situation comes up.”
For story time, Steven wears a colourful blue satin cape with a large ‘S’ on it. He says, “The children see that cape a lot and they call it my super power. They can have their own by making new friends, by helping others, so they have that sense of empowerment.”
Each child has a different capacity to be attentive and stay engaged with the storytelling process. If children do not want to sit during story time, they have the freedom to listen as they move around the room and engage in quiet personal play. He notes that when a favourite song or story comes up, they will make their own way back into the circle. He feels that it is important to make sure that “everyone feels safe and secure in the space, and that we’re alert and engaged in our own separate way”. He refers to it as each child’s personal ‘high tide, low tide’.
The video shows him reading the children’s book, Banana!, a funny and entertaining book about two monkeys who share a banana. There are only two words used throughout the book, ‘banana’ and ‘please’. In the book, there is a point where the character feels sad. Steven says, “When it comes to the page where I start to cry because the banana has been taken away, the children come up and they try to wipe my eyes because they see that I am sad...they don’t want to see teacher Steven sad, so they want to come up and help me. So, it shows that they know what feelings look like …. And at the end, when they share the banana, everyone is excited, so you know they get the message from the book. ”