Nov. 7, 2018 --
Small children can feel big – and often overwhelming – emotions. So the staff at Fairfax Elementary School is working hard to help children identify and manage their feelings.
As part of the building’s third year implementing the Conscious Discipline
program, the staff is now using the Feeling Buddies
curriculum in kindergarten through 2nd grade. Feeling Buddies are stuffed characters that represent eight common emotions, everything from Happy with its cousin Calm to Angry with its cousin Frustrated. Children are able to see how emotions are related and how one (disappointment) can lead to another (sadness).
Fairfax guidance counselor Melinda Stoicoiu visits with each of the nine K-2 classes for 30 minutes per week to talk about feelings and introduce self-regulation techniques. Students spend a lot of time looking at details like how someone’s brow furrows or breathing increases when they’re starting to get mad. In Dana Bogus’ 1st grade classroom, the effect of the Feeling Buddies curriculum has been dramatic.
“My students are so much more aware of their own feelings and of each other’s feelings,” she said. “They even point out clues in the books we read, like ‘Look, her eyebrows are showing that she’s moved from being frustrated to being angry.’” She’s noticed that they need to use the Safe Place, a corner in every room for children to visit when they need to calm down, much less than last year’s class. “They’re just so much better at recognizing and talking about their feelings.”
Ms. Stoicoiu uses a modified feelings curriculum with the building’s older students but everyone is being exposed to the same language and the same concepts as part of Conscious Discipline. “The amount of things we do to help kids feel connected and united at school is making a huge difference.”