Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Creating Emotionally Safe Environments

Part of my passion for Montessori environments is how respectful of children these environments are.  Not just where children are developmentally or academically, but also emotionally.  As a former traditional teacher,  my training for classroom management and/or discipline was very teacher directed and controlled.  In Montessori classrooms, we help support children as they go through challenging times with their emotions.  Helping children understand what they are feeling and helping them use their words in the midst of frustration, anger, or sadness, is a real life skill.   Children's emotions are respected-frustration, sadness, anger, joy, compassion.  Children, just as they are learning new skills everyday, are also learning how to experience, express and deal with their many emotions.  As they encounter new things in their world, they will experience new emotions as well.  As directresses and guides in the classroom, Montessorians take very seriously the tenderness of a child's heart and mind as they learn to navigate through social situations. Daniel Goleman discusses the importance of promoting, what he calls, emotional literacy in classrooms.  He says it's important for teachers to use opportunities of strife among children to teach children skills of conflict resolution, perspective taking and negotiation.  Goleman's review of research tells us that educating the emotions has a wider mission than preventing violence.  It teaches children to think differently about disagreements (Children Who Aren't Yet Peaceful by Donna Bryant Goertz).  


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