This week is Mental Health Week. Yesterday was World Mental Health Day and mental health is certainly something that teachers need to be more aware of than we were in the past. Every class has children who struggle with anxiety, who worry excessively, who have anger issues and who appear especially despondent or unengaged, but the good thing is that because teachers now worry about emotional intelligence as well as academic and social intelligences, they plan for the teaching of it and have much better protocols for identifying and remedying these concerns.
Teachers program for and conduct Circle Time in their classrooms. They encourage students to talk about their feelings, to express their feelings through play, drama and art. They read and discuss wonderful stories that highlight feelings and strategies for overcoming feelings.
In the last couple of years four books have been published about feelings which allow for children to understand that everyone feels a gambit of emotions and that this is normal. These are:
* Feelings: Inside My Heart and in My Head...
by Libby Walden and Richard Jones.
* In My Heart A Book of Feelings by Jo Witek
* The Great Big Book of Feelings by Mary Hoffman and Ros Asquith
* A Book of Feelings by Amanda McCardie and Salvatore Rubbino
While these are certainly not the only books that may be useful, these do cover more than one feeling in one book. There is a myriad of purpose written series about emotions with one emotion per book.
With the young children I teach I like to look at the expressions a fish can have in Mies Van Hout's illustrations in her book Happy and then discuss the emotion illustrated by connecting it back to themselves and when they have felt this way.
Another approach is to read a picture book where a character is having a particularly sad time and look at what happens to the character before discussing this situation. Two recent books that do this are:
* Mr Huff by Anna Walker, and
* Willy and the Cloud by Anthony Browne.