Start off the year with this thoughtful post about emotions and the powerful role books have in helping children manage, reflect on, work through and celebrate the myriad of feelings they express each day.
Teachers often talk about regulating our emotions. We use phrases like... ‘feeling calm’; ‘being in the red/yellow/green/blue zone’ and ‘...breathing it out’. Language that the children at our school all know and trust, especially when they need it most. We use language associated with the emotions themselves; the physical responses to emotions; and the strategies related to regulation of emotions. This year, more than ever, we will be supporting our students to manage and challenge their emotions.
But what about books? What do they have to do with emotions? And I wonder, what place do they have in regulating emotions? Particularly for children?
When a child turns to books to regulate, to calm, to find their happy place, is it about escaping? Or is it actually about relating?
Whatever it is, it sure can work. Books have a wonderful way of calming, and of removing angst and upset. Different children go for different genres. When things are tough the Guinness World Records (no matter the year!), has this marvellous knack of engaging. Magazines too – Kids National Geographic and AMB (mountain biking) are popular class subscriptions. A really good series, that you just can’t put down can also do just the trick. The Rangers Apprentice series is a popular one for escaping into. And the spoken word – story telling too is a marvellous tool for when things get a bit much. And the best ones are often the ones that don’t make any sense at all, but come from a place of spontaneity. As a child, my Dad used to tell a story of his own, about a rocket. To this day, none of us knew where it came from, or what became of it, but the story sure did hit the spot!
There certainly isn’t a one size fits all ‘calming’ strategy, but what if was as simple as finding the genre fit?
As another school year begins, with the added complexities in our world right now, we will all benefit from having some effective calming strategies to draw on – going for a walk? Listening to music? Counting to 10? Deep breathing? Different strategies fit for different purposes, with that repertoire ever important to have up our sleeve.
Perhaps we do also need to remind ourselves, ‘You’ve got this!’? It is a popular phrase at the moment. It is simple, yet effective. But what does it actually mean? Maybe it should be ‘You’ve got this. (But when you don’t, just grab a book and all will be well.)’?
Teacher, reader and passionate advocate for children’s literature.