Why Schools Should Teach Emotional Intelligence in their Classrooms
As our world moves at a faster pace each day, our children are faced with increased pressures in society. Academics, sports, communication have all drastically changed since my childhood in the 80's. Recreational sports have taken a new life of its own with increased demands from both parents and coaches. Students in classroom are inundated with exams and state testing. Social media has become the go to way of communicating without having to face someone in person. While all of these changes are here to stay, how prepared are our children in dealing with their emotions, stress, anxiety?
Last last year I attended a school planning meeting in my township to discuss how the funds are utilized in our school district. There was plenty of emphasis on academic programs, teacher salaries, after school programs, etc., which are all very important, but what was lacking are programs benefiting the emotional well being of our children. Why is there is so much focus on academics yet very little if nonexistent on teaching our children how to become self aware, have empathy, be able to verbalize how they feel and maintain positive relationships? Through my research I have found that only about 10% of our schools in the United States offer a form of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) in their classrooms.
First and foremost I believe that Emotional Intelligence should be taught and practiced in the home, but given that our children spend a majority of their time in school, this should definitely be implemented into the classroom as well.
Benefits of Emotional Intelligence in the classroom include:
Improved classroom behavior
More innovative thinking
Less bullying and violence
Ability to manage stress
Less dropout rates
Decrease of drug and alcohol use
Better management of emotions
Having the ability to identify triggers
These benefits will filter into their academic life, as well into their adult life. If we begin teaching Emotional Intelligence in schools beginning in preschool, children will have the ability to rewire their thought patterns away from anger and lashing out and learn how to understand their emotions and find a peaceful manner on handling difficult situations. Most importantly, they learn how to develop meaningful personal and social relationships.
When taught how to manage social skills, we give our children the opportunity to self-correct. Being emotionally intelligent is not about being popular or hanging with the "cool" kids, but rather having the ability to move away from peer pressure. They learn how to read other people's emotions and steer clear from toxic environments and learn how to compose oneself when angry. These are all crucial in developing their self-esteem and succeeding in their future endeavors.
If you school system does not offer any type of Emotional Intelligence training, you can begin at home. When speaking to your children, learn to listen to understand and not interrupt with what you think is or is not right. Remember to always validate their feelings and not suppress them from how they feel at the moment. Teach them about kindness, respecting other people's opinions that are different from theirs, being aware that hurt people hurt people and have discussions on how they feel with certain scenarios. There are many books at all age levels that teach kindness, compassion and empathy. As adults, it is important for us to learn and live an emotionally intelligent lifestyle as well. With daily practice, you and your child can grow together to be more emotionally intelligent leading to success in every aspect of your life.
When we learn to recognize our emotions and learn how to manage them effectively, life becomes more harmonious! Start giving your children access to these skill sets that will benefit them the rest of their lives.
Here are some suggestions for books for your little ones to begin your journey:
Pre-K thru 3rd grade
Love Powered Co. Littles affirmation cards - 22 affirmation cards to inspire your little ones
The Adventures of Stushy & Bello! I Got a Bike...Now What!
The Adventures of Stushy & Bello! Stinky Teeth "Stushy Wants You to Brush!"
Mindful Kids: 50 Activities for Calm, Focus, and Peace
There are countless books for teenagers and older to strengthen their Emotional Intelligence skill sets as well. My goal is to get every school in our country to implement Emotional Intelligence into their curriculum. Life is so much more than being the most popular, getting into a well-known college, or making the most money. However, through Emotional Intelligence, not only do we become happier, content, and kinder, we have the ability to have healthier relationships, raise our academic grades and be more financially successful.
Please email me if you would like any additional reading suggestions at info@InezBarberio.com.