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Lessons are not always learnt in the classroom. Coomera Anglican College educators are always finding ways to teach their youngest students those important life lessons around social and emotional intelligence.

Educators at Coomera Anglican College’s Early Learning Centre, like all teachers, are focused on developing their students’ general intelligence. But it’s developing the children’s social and emotional intelligence that’s paramount at this age.

Coomera Anglican College Early Learning Centre director Jenny Rees says that when the centre’s children are playing outside, educators work with them on the types of play that they are choosing.

“Many children initiate play situations surrounding ‘goodies and baddies’ and ‘heroes and villains’,” Jenny explains. “Whilst there is nothing wrong in their choice as the villain or the baddie, it does point out that young children are not able to distinguish between their fantasy world and that of the real world.

“The superhero who physically fights for justice-defeating the villain is always good, however,

much of our time here in the Early Learning Centre is spent on teaching the children about ‘gentle hands’ and using words to resolve a conflict. There is a very mixed up message being portrayed to young children.”

Jenny says the centre’s focus with the children is to develop their social and emotional skills so that when they are presented with a di cult situation they are able to use a number of different strategies to resolve issues.

“Emotional skills are about learning to manage and express feelings appropriately,” she says. “Social skills are about relating to others. They involve being able to be a friend, to negotiate our needs and difficulties, to be assertive without being aggressive and to relate effectively with adults and peers. Without social and emotional skills children cannot learn as effectively and cannot make the most of their learning.

“This is the responsibility of every person who has a stake in each child’s life – not the sole responsibility of one single component? Unfortunately, it is not good enough to say that children learn these skills from the way we treat them and the modelling we do. They need to be taught as teachable moments when they occur especially in the early years.”

For example, Jenny says that when her educators see a child acting aggressively to another child, rather than just stopping the act, they take advantage of the teachable moment to listen and talk with both children about how they are feeling and help them nd ways to express their feelings and needs.

“When watching cartoons or shows involving physical violence, it is recommended that you talk with your child reminding them that this is just pretending because we don’t hit or hurt others,” Jenny suggested. “Taking the time to sit with your child as they watch different forms of media allows you the opportunity to embrace those teachable moments supporting your child in their social and emotional development.”

Visit www.cac.qld.edu.au

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