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The Evolution of Early Years: Empowering Children Through Emotional Literacy

Over two decades ago, my training to work with young children set the stage for a profession that has transformed significantly over the years. Early Years practitioners have evolved into educators, responsible for not only caring for children but also fostering their development through play and exploration. As I reflect on my journey, it's evident that continuous learning is crucial, and updating qualifications becomes an opportunity to enhance our abilities and share valuable insights with parents. This learning is what led me to developing those initial workshops, drop-ins and courses for parents, so we could reflect on how and why we parent the way we do, to reflect on if the approach we take is helpful or unhelpful for our child in the long-term: are we reflecting and adapting to the needs of our children as individuals, but also to them living in this modern world?


Our Emotional World:

In the realm of early childhood development, the three prime areas—Physical Development, P.S.E.(personal, social & emotional), and C&L (communication & language)—are intricately linked. Having witnessed countless "Ahhhh, I wish I'd known that when my two were little" moments during my updated training in 2014, I became impassioned about sharing these revelations with parents.


Understanding Emotional Literacy:

Bridge the Gap are an 'emotional literacy based service'', but what is Emotional Literacy? Addressing questions about managing children's behaviour requires delving into the core of emotional intelligence. The foundation of Emotional Literacy lies in recognising and navigating our emotional landscape. Consider this exercise: brainstorm various feelings, categorise them, and appreciate the complexity of human emotions. We, as adults, can find it challenging to process and understand emotions at times, especially the more difficult ones.


Teaching Emotional Literacy Skills:

The key to empowering children is to teach Emotional Literacy skills, both passively and actively. Seizing everyday opportunities to discuss feelings provides a foundation for emotional understanding. Narrating your own emotions and coping strategies normalises the range of feelings, granting children permission to experience and express their emotions openly. This 'modelling' is a passive emotional learning that creates the repetition needed to help wire the emotional brain.


Exploring emotions in a safe space through stories, toys, and puppets allows children to navigate their feelings without the intensity of an emotional outbreak. Puppets, in particular, have a remarkable way of eliciting openness from children, providing a unique avenue for expression.


The Importance of Emotional Literacy:

While our instinct as parents may be to shield our children from difficult emotions, the reality is that emotions are interconnected, relying on each other for balance. Teaching children to acknowledge and manage their emotions is a lifelong endeavour that significantly impacts their well-being, learning, and overall health.


Conclusion:

As parents, our role in nurturing Emotional Literacy is paramount. Openness, honesty, and understanding lay the foundation for a child's ability to navigate their emotional world. By incorporating Emotional Literacy skills into everyday interactions, we empower our children to face life's challenges with resilience and empathy. If you're eager to delve deeper into the significance of teaching Emotional Literacy skills, don't hesitate to reach out. Bridge the Gap is here to provide valuable insights and support on this essential journey of fostering emotional intelligence in our children.






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