Erin Vinacco is a lead preschool teacher at Living Wisdom School. She enjoys and excels at finding new ways to teach life lessons in meaningful ways. Her blog post below shares an activity practiced in her classroom.
Every day in preschool – as in life – there are times when things don’t go our way. Every day we practice facing these disappointments and upsets using the skills we have been taught or seen modeled around us. In our class we see these conflicts and upsets as opportunities to learn new skills and challenge our limiting beliefs about ourselves and about others. We work with students to practice calming techniques like breathing and yoga postures throughout the day and we model using the power of our words to communicate how we feel and what we need. But it takes more than a few reminders and repetitions to learn these new skills – many of us as adults are still learning and practicing these skills!
One tool that we’ve worked with this year is a set of books we created modeling some common conflicts; for example, what to do if someone is using a toy you want or if someone knocks over your tower of blocks. Seemingly small events that can, for anyone who has ever known a 3 or 4 year old, create a big reaction. They are still learning to work with these big emotions while learning to communicate clearly and get their needs met. The books acknowledges how we feel in those moments, modeling how to self-soothe using calm breathing techniques and then providing the language we can use to talk with others. We used a few older students to help create the photos for the book following a simple storyline and using first person language. This helped the students connect more with the content and bring the book to life.
We’ve reread the book regularly throughout the year (and will continue to do so) to help reinforce these new skills in how we can deal with feelings of upset, frustration, anger, disappointment etc. and how to express ourselves calmly and clearly. These are skills that will last them a lifetime and skills that we as adults in the lives of children can be learning and practicing as well!