• School Happenings

    Emotional Intelligence from the Beginning

    Dr. Donna Housman       

    You may have read about Social Emotional Learning (SEL) in the news recently and thought, “That sounds familiar!” In fact, SEL has been roaming the halls of Beginnings School since it’s very beginning in 1985. Our teachers attend weekly clinical trainings, conducted by founder and clinical psychologist, Dr. Donna Housman, in order to utilize teaching methods created in helping to in build a young child’s emotional intelligence. Although our methods in implementing SEL into the greater Beginnings curriculum is a truly time-tested approach to teaching young children, SEL has only recently been thrust into the spotlight.

    Jessica Khan of the New York Times successfully raised public awareness of the importance of SEL in her recent article, “Can Emotional Intelligence be Taught?” Current schools referenced by Khan implementing SEL into their curriculum expect children in these programs, some starting in Kindergarten, to develop a better understanding, competence and regulation of their emotions and in turn, the ability to become more aware of others by developing empathy.  The article discusses the importance of SEL in schools today, and Dr. Housman takes the discussion of SEL to the very beginning – birth, and how the skills of emotional intelligence when introduced within the earliest years of a child’s life can provide the foundation for success personally, socially and academically by fostering a strong sense of self, in promoting the growth of confidence and competence.

    “As a psychologist, educator and founder of Beginnings School in Weston, Massachusetts, for over 25 years we have been introducing SEL to the developmental process within the first three years of a child’s life. Current research shows that learning begins at birth, and 90 percent of the brain has developed by the age of four. Neuroscience informs us that the brain is most malleable to day-to-day experiences, both at home and at school, during and within the first three years in a child’s life. Learning experiences during this critical phase of development can impact and shape the brain’s circuitry and set the stage for all further life-long development. The curriculum of Beginnings School promotes the development of emotional and social competencies in young children that are fundamental building blocks in becoming emotionally intelligent. The outcomes from empirical data have demonstrated that children graduating from our program have evidenced heightened confidence, resiliency, excellent academic achievement, strong success in social interactions, and leadership skills. The program has been effective in the education of children’s early learning, character and moral development and our children have been recognized as being instrumental in mitigating bullying.

    Helping children to learn how to regulate their emotions and develop their self-control is critical in shaping the brains’ emotional and social circuitry in the growth of executive functioning and its positive impact on learning. Thus, children can and do learn a great deal from their earliest experiences.  When parents and early childhood educators take advantage of this important and sensitive period of development, the foundation is created for the child’s future success and well being.”

    Please leave us your thoughts and comments on SEL and its impact on young children.

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