When you think of educating your child, more than likely you focus on academics. The “Three Rs” (reading, writing, and arithmetic) have become practically synonymous with early childhood education. While academics are indeed necessary, young children need other skills to be successful. For this reason, Legacy Academy focuses on emotional intelligence as well as academics in preschool. Whether you’re a parent or a childcare provider, understanding emotional intelligence and why it matters to our young students is crucial.
What is Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence is a set of skills that center around being attentive to emotions, both in yourself and in others. It also includes the ability to express and use emotions appropriately, both for society and your particular situation. Our emotions play a significant role in most of our lives, including our physical and mental health. In fact, all aspects of our lives are at least somewhat affected by our emotions. Developing emotional intelligence means learning the acceptable ways and places to express your emotions, as well as the beneficial ways to manage emotions while making decisions, interacting in relationships, and forming self-image.
Why Emotional Intelligence Is So Important
These essential emotional skills provide many positive outcomes for both children and adults. For example, a higher capacity to properly navigate emotions often leads to higher attentiveness, engagement, and positivity. Additionally, a child’s empathy directly links to their emotional intelligence. Children who score high in emotional intelligence are better at regulating their behavior and score better on tests. Others see them as leaders, with better social skills and mental health than their peers. Overall, research has shown that persons with higher emotional intelligence have a higher quality of life and relationships, regardless of age or social status.
How We Teach These Skills
There are many ways to teach emotional identification and regulation. For one, we emphasize recognizing and naming emotions in ourselves and others. Giving an emotion the correct name eases the anxiety of big unknown feelings and gives a child power over his or her internal life. Emotional intelligence also requires a lot of practice. We take the opportunity to discuss what caused the emotion, how it makes our bodies feel, how we can ease any discomfort and the appropriate ways to express our feelings. The process is rarely perfect, which is still a vital component of the overall goal. By recognizing both positive and negative responses to emotions, children begin to self-regulate rather than needing instruction.
Why We Start So Young
Preschoolers are excellent learners. There’s a reason you often hear them referred to as “little sponges.” Because of their incredible capacity for learning and growth, young children are the perfect candidates for emotional learning. Preschool is a time of exploring the world. Instead of limiting that exploration to nature and academics only, we also encourage children to explore their own minds. We add vocabulary to describe their experience and coping skills to ease their transition. Learning these things once language and behavior have become more fixed, as it is in elementary school, is a far more difficult task. If a child can learn skills like positive self-talk, calming exercises, asking for space when they need it, and respecting others’ boundaries, they are far ahead of peers without those skills. The following are some of the most essential aspects of raising a child who is emotionally intelligent.
Raising Compassionate Children
We strive to teach children how important it is to value others, both for their sake and our own. Empathy helps children learn how to be kind, responsible members of society. Empathy is linked directly to one’s ability to empathize with others. Empathizing means being able to not only recognize another person’s emotions but also understanding why they are feeling that way. Empathy is about understanding, not sympathy. Empathic people are able to recognize the feelings of others but do not feel responsible for them or obligated to fix those feelings entirely. Empathy helps children learn how to better take care of themselves and avoid bad social situations. The first step towards developing empathy is learning how to self-regulate emotions, this is a benefit of teaching emotional intelligence. Read more here.
Helping Your Child Transition to New Childcare
An emotionally intelligent child will be more successful transitioning to a new childcare environment. Emotional intelligence skills like empathy and positive self-talk give children the coping skills they need to make changes without anxiety or distress. Emotional regulation ensures that kids can stay engaged and productive, even if something is not going as planned (like their first day of childcare). If you would like more details, you may go in-depth here.
What You Should Know About Your Three Year Old
Behaviors can get difficult when your child turns three and one on one attention is important. It’s worth taking into consideration that more than likely your child is still young and feels insecure about their place in the world. Emotional intelligence helps them figure out how to get what they want and need without resorting to manipulation or throwing a tantrum every time something doesn’t go his or her way. Emotionally intelligent children learn to help themselves and others, which means less stress for you. Emotional intelligence is a vital component of later academic success as well. Emotionally intelligent children are more engaged in learning, have better relationships with peers and adults, and often perform better academically as well.
Ways to Help Your Child Adjust to Preschool
Understanding the true benefits of emotional intelligence and why it matters in preschool, you will have a better understanding of how it will help your child adjust to new environments. Emotional intelligence skills like empathy and positive self-talk help children transition more smoothly to a new childcare environment. Transition to childcare, a new school, which can be quite difficult for any young child. Empathy helps them understand the emotions of others while emotional regulation ensures they are able to stay engaged in learning even when things don’t go as planned.
Preparing Your Preschooler for the Transition to Elementary School
When children start elementary school, they are expected to behave in certain ways. Emotional intelligence helps them recognize the feelings of others and how their own behavior impacts those emotions. Empathy is about understanding someone else’s experience without feeling responsible for it or obligated to fix it entirely. Empathic people understand that other people have needs separate from their own. This is vital as not all students are the same, everyone has unique differences and it’s important that children know how to be kind to one another.
While there are many important skill sets children should learn in early schooling, few guarantee the benefits of emotional intelligence. For this reason, Legacy Academy prioritizes teaching our young students the language and practice of successful emotional self-regulation. If you would like to hear more about Legacy Academy and how we offer exceptional care for students from the age of 6 weeks to 12 years old, contact us today.