Emotions are a peculiar thing. Certain triggers, some of which can be completely random, can make us happy, sad, anxious, excited or angry. On a normal day, we may experience a number of different feelings and it’s very important that we regulate those feelings to maximise our productivity and wellbeing. This isn’t any different for children.
As parents and educators, one of the many ways we can support children’s learning is by teaching them how to understand and manage their emotions as well as be aware of what triggers them. In the long run, they’ll become more independent and eventually find their own strategies to regulate themselves so they are calm, happy and ready to learn. If we, as parents and educators, can also share the same language about how to understand these triggers and emotional states, we have a better chance for the child’s understanding to be embedded.
Leah Kuypers, an American Occupational Therapist, developed an effective model for children developing emotional literacy which she called the Zones of Regulation. This model teaches self-regulation and emotional control. Kuypers categorises common feelings and emotions into four colour-coded zones:
- The red zone where one feels angry, mad or terrified
- The yellow zone for excitement, frustration or worry
- The blue zone for sadness, sickness, feeling tired or bored
- The green zone, where optimal learning occurs and one is feeling happy, calm, content and focused.
The use of simple colours also allows children to easily understand and communicate their feelings. If they are in the blue, yellow or red zone, knowing and agreeing certain coping mechanisms can gradually support the child back into the green zone. These coping mechanisms could be anything from taking deep breaths to listening to music – what is important is that they are already discussed and agreed with the child and their parent or teacher.
Several studies like that of Christina Hinton, a lecturer at Harvard Graduate School of Education, have indicated a positive correlation between students happiness and academic performance. Garden International School use the Zones of Education and train and develop both their staff and parents in them. Trudy Ventor, Learning Support Teacher at Garden International School said, “The Zones of Regulation is empowering our children with the tools to identify and regulate their own feelings. It enables them to become better learners and can easily be extended to home. It is a great way to help improve our children’s empathy towards others. ”
This topic was discussed in depth during one of GIS’s weekly Parent Workshops as part of the “Raising a Child in an International Environment” series. Educating our parents and offering them the tools to better understand the educational environment of their children is an essential part of the GIS learning culture.
At GIS, we bring out the best in everyone, both inside and outside of the classroom through our unique learning culture where we pursue our passions and strive for excellence; all in the spirit of respect, integrity and well-being.