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Input Welcomed For My New Book!


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Following the success of The Thinking Child, I'm busy working on a new book that has been a long time in the planning stages. <_<

 

This book is about the development of emotional intelligence in children, and how to promote 'emotional literacy' through storymaking and fiction. It will be accompanied by a series of children's books, called The Can-Do Club , along with a lot of practical activities for the Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1.

 

If anyone has any information that they'd be happy to share about how they address or plan for emotional intelligence in their setting, or observations about children's emotional development and how it impacts their learning, or anecdotes about successful interventions to help children to deal emotionally with the challenges of childhood, I'd be delighted to hear. This is really open-ended at this stage, as the book is in it's infancy, so feel free just to share anything you think is of interest! :D

 

As always, any input that makes its way into the final copy would be fully acknowledged. I love to hear from practitioners themselves in addition to what I observe when I go into schools, as it adds a richness to my work.

 

My new website at www.candoclub.com gives information about the new series, while my main website at www.acceleratedlearning.co.uk gives more detail about all my work. Any contributions or ideas can be shared here, or I can be contacted here via these boards or via my website.

 

Thanks!

 

Nicola

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Hi Nicola,

that sounds really exciting and challenging.

From my own point of view I think emotional intelligence is often an area that is neglected in schools, not necessarily by design but because somehow it gets squeezed out or addressed in an unplanned way.

 

Its a subject that I also feel quite strongly about, particularly because of my own experiences in the workplace at the moment but also because I feel that my own sons were probably actually emotionally damaged by many of their early school experiences.

The school was excellent academically and facilities were also good but the teachers whom they encountered while kind, considerate people in their own ways did not or were able to respond to my children in the way that they were used ie like I did I suppose.

Consequently, they both found it really difficult, especially my elder son, to relax in the school environment and were not happy.

 

I can hear you asking why didn't I move on, and the answer is that the school was nearby and therefore convenient and I actually had no guarantee that it would have better elsewhere.

 

The way in which we now tend to talk to children in school, expecting them to explain or admit what has happened is also quite wrongand is done by so many. How can it do anything other than make them "lie"?

I witnessed this with my son one day when I took him back into school to complain that his new lunchbox lid had been lost/ taken from the trolley. The teacher interrogated him in such a way as to make him say that he had lost it, but I knew that that was not the case as it was a lunchbox he had been angling for for some time.

 

I was so surprised at what I was hearing that I did not challenge her and when I asked my son about it he just shrugged and said "oh but that's what she wanted me to say and she would just have kept on until I did"

 

So not a postive story but one that supports the necessity of us all to be aware of what we are doing to children.

 

Susan

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An interesting perspective Susan! I agree that often schools don't do enough to address emotional intelligence and I believe that this is the most critical intelligence for children to succeed both socially and academically. More so than IQ!

 

One thing that always concerns me is when adults ask children to say that they are sorry. It seems to me that this is often asking them to lie. What if they are still processing the incident and don't feel sorry at all? To say sorry may be socially 'polite', but if it's insincere, it is worse than meaningless. I think that this approach leads to many children believing that it's OK to do what you like, as long as (if you get caught) you say sorry. The better way to teach the social manners of apology, in my opinion, is to model it yourself, and children will catch on.

 

Do you think that sometimes we expect children to bury disappointments and don't teach them how to handle them, like your son with his lunchbox, because they seem trivial to us? Is that the reason, or is it because we can become bogged down by the demands of the day and can lose sight of the child's perspective? A lost lunchbox becomes another issue to deal with and cross off the list.... I'm just musing here. Do we miss chances to nurture Emotional Intelligence, becasue we are too busy? Or does the development of EI underpin all that we do in the setting? Does it underpin all our interactions, or is that impossible in any institution? Possible maybe in the home, but not in the setting?

 

Nicola

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Am off to visit your web address Nicola. Will be very interested in following this thread. Am reading Emotional Intelligence for myself and would love to hear more from you on this topic. Will do a bit of reading and chat with a colleague in school who is very interested in EI. :) Chris

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Fascinating reading all this. Susan, please advise. I'm sure I get it wrong with asking children to apologise for others. It's not easy to know how to tackle this issue. Sometimes I suppose we react when preocuppied by other issues. Asking a miscreant to say sorry is probably what most of us have grown up with too. I usually ask the parties concerned to explain what happened initially and then to think about what they have done, or what has happened. It's not easy to get it right!

 

AOB

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AOB, I think one of the problems is that we are all so busy! I know that I always asked children to apologise until a very wonderful HT in my early days of teaching talked to me after overhearing me dealing with a hitting incident between two three year olds. I still remember the moment of revelation when I realised that what I had done was asked a three year old to say something insincere! xD

 

What are the alternatives? Sometimes I ask the children to think about what they could do to make one another feel better. In my co-op group, the children often say "I'll give a gentle touch" and if the injured child welcomes it, that often is the end of it. But sometimes the children simply aren't ready at that point to deal with it, and want some time and space. I wonder if we should be better at allowing this, but it means that we have to remember to return to the incident later and work through it. Maybe a notebook to jot down things that need to be referred to at circle time? Making a mental note is tricky, as we so often get sidetracked and the incident is forgotten. Maybe that's why we feel such an urgency about dealing with it there and then and getting a satisfactory outcome - but I"d ask if the outcome is always satisfactory for the children, or is it just to gain closure for us? Rather like Susan's son's lunchbox!!

 

We can't be perfect when we have a large number of children to care for, but we can strive towards it. Throwing the problem back to the children, being explicit about feelings, and giving words to situations, and seeing what they propose as a solution, goes a long way towards righting a wrong. Also, we need to help the victim learn how to move on and deal with disappointment and hurt, in addition to correcting the wrongdoer.

 

Hmm, not easy is it?? :o

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HI all,

too often children are expected to say sorry and do not understand what it means. After all its just a word someone says when they've hurt you? If they say sorry everything will be okay again and they can carry on.

 

This was demonstrated to me very early on in my teaching career(and many years ago now) by a very volatile little boy (6/7yrs old I think) who was also very aggressive but always said sorry very very readily and would then turn round and promptly repeat the behaviour. He was most indignant if he was then in trouble because he'd said sorry!

 

I never encourage a child to say sorry although it is expected within the school! I try and talk children through incidents and explain to them the meaning of sorry. Hopefully they can apologise and may have gained an understanding of a social convention.

 

I think we should also be thinking about the "proximity praise" issues as mentioned in the other post about Fidgetting. That can also be emotionally damaging for some children can't it and I hate the chorusing of "so am I" etc that this can evoke. However hard you try, it alwys seems to be the same few children that get the praise.

 

 

Susan

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"I hate the chorusing of "so am I" "

 

Me too!!! Ugh!!

 

Like when children all sit bolt upright to be the 'one' who gets the sticker. And shout out to you that they are doing it, at the same time. :D

 

A book that I love, although with some reservations, is Alfie Kohn's Punished By Rewards. He stresses the importance of having children maintain their intrinsic motivation to behave well and learn, rather than introducing rewards that in the end act to demotivate. A really interesting argument, but a very persuasive one. An example I gave in The ALPS Approach was that by giving children vouchers for pizza for reading a set number of books in the year, produces enthusiastic pizza eaters, not enthusiastic readers. Rather like giving stickers for sitting quietly in assembly produces good sticker collectors. :D The end should be the 'reward' - ie it should be worth sitting quietly in assembly, as then you can hear the thrilling story. It should be great to read 100 books in a year, because then you get 100 thrills from reading.

 

(However, in ALPS I also stressed that for some children, a brief reward system is necessary to get a child to engage in a new behaviour, but our aim should be to wean off the reward asap. I see no need to introduce reward systems for young children who don't have any major behavioural need. We should be enjoying the fact that they are, as yet, unspoiled, and are eager to learn for learning's sake.

 

OK, I'll get off my soapbox and try to get back to work on this book, or all I'll have done is spent time here and I'll have no manuscript for my publisher. :oxD:( :wacko: :(:(

 

Nicola

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  • 4 weeks later...

I am also interested in the subject of emotional intelligence, especially after watching a tv preogramme about it a few months ago. A school in the UK (sorry, can't remember where, I think it was a junior school) had started to give time to lessons in Emotional Intelligence and the programme followed a group of about 10 children as they went through these lessons. The results were very positive.

 

My own children, boys aged 7 and 8, both tend to have quiet natures and are shy in new situations. I have seen how the attitude/approaches of different teachers have affected them in both positive and negative ways over the years. My eldest son when he moved from year 1 to year 2 lost his best friend who moved away. He was very quiet in class and the attitude of the teacher was that he was lazy and couldn't be bothered to participate. Although he achieved very well academically in this year, at the end of the year he lacked confidence. He wrote a letter to his new teacher at the end of the year to introduce himself. In it he wrote " I am not very good at literacy but I am working hard to get better" In fact he was about 1 year ahead in literacy at this time.

 

In contrast, the following year he had a very encouraging teacher who seemed to be on his wavelength and his confidence went up in leaps and bounds.

 

I know it is hard to be completely objective about your own children, but I know that when they are secure and settled, feeling that the staff are "on their side" they flourish. What good is academic ahievement if a child is unhappy and has low self-esteem?

 

I have only been working in a pre - school for 3 years so I have a lot to learn but I feel that personal, social and emotional development should be the foundation for all that we do. I was recently speaking to a teacher at my sons' junior school who felt very strongly that not enough time is given in school for personal, social and emotional development. Most of the emphasis is put on literacy and numeracy with the pressure of league tables and SATS tests.

 

I agree with what has been said already about getting children to say sorry. I am still learning this with my 8 year old son. I have started to ask him "are you sorry?" if he says no we talk about how he is feeling and how he thinks we can resolve it. I know this wouldn't work with a 3 year old but is helping me to realise that we need to acknowledge the child's feelings and help them to deal with them.

 

Sorry, I have gone on a bit (well, a lot actually). I'll be interested to read your book, Nichola, when its finally written.

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Thanks Beryl, (and thanks too Steve)

 

That's so interesting when you say: "I feel that personal, social and emotional development should be the foundation for all that we do."

 

Here's a sentence of my draft manuscript, a piece I was working on today:

 

"There are many ways that practitioners can foster emotional intelligence. The most important step that we need to take is to keep emotional intelligence in the forefront of our minds at all times. We need to create a climate where a consideration of EI underscores every thing that we do during our working day. This takes some practice and maybe for some of us even a shift in paradigm, but once we start to think that way, it becomes a habit and the children start to reap the rewards."

 

I think that we're on the same page! :o

 

Can anyone remember the name of the BBC programme? I've heard a lot about it, but of course, we dont' get BBC here. xD

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hi

I am following this thread with interest. Looking retrospectively at my own sons early years I probably was guilty of being one of the "say sorry" brigade. Interestingly I do remember when they were alot older and telling them that the word "sorry" was not some sort of licence to act however they felt like and then just use it afterwards to undo any damage. It took quite a bit of work to get them to understand the true meaning of an apology.

 

My personal bug bear is the use of 'good' and 'naughty' and though I occasionally use the first I never use the latter. What on earth do either mean to a 3yr old?? Parents often drop children off in the morning with the parting words "Be good!" arghhhh!!!! Maybe its just me! but one minute a child is 'good' because they are sitting still and minutes later they are 'good' for something totally different. Maybe this should be in the mixed messages thread!

 

I also remember going on a course several years ago and the speaker advocated that practitioners never said 'No' to a child. If a child asked a direct question which required a negative answer the answer should be given in a positive way! Shortly after this I was having a particularly busy day, it was pouring with rain and a child asked if they were having outdoor play. The outdoor area was a securely fenced area of a field which on that day resembled a mud bath. My answer was "no, not today it's raining" to which the child burst into tears, he was extremely distressed. This situation arose again some considerable time later, with the same question asked on an equally awful day - without any real thought (though I would love to say I was adopting some new found philosophy!) I picked him up so he could see the pouring rain and said "What do you think?" and he replied "oh, not today it will be too muddy" and happily went off to one of the activities on offer. I found it food for thought.

 

Oh dear! I think I am prattling so will say bye for now....

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