School focuses on emotional intelligence

Wembley College in Greytown has employed the skills of a local psychologist to help ensure its young pupils also learn emotional intelligence in their schooling.

Reveni Aheer is training the school’s teachers from Grades RRRR to Grade 3 on how to use a practical, “hands on” approach to emotional intelligence in the classroom.

Teachers have learnt that children need to learn how to name the emotion they are feeling in order to tame it… “Name it to tame it!”. Mindful that children can get very overwhelmed by their feelings and when this happens, make poor choices with their behaviour, the school was inspired to bring on board the services of Aheer.

EQ sessions

“We are committed to helping children in our care to learn coping mechanisms and help them to become happy, emotionally intelligent people.”

Nhlelo Msomi is all smiles as she enjoys some quiet time with a trusted friend. Picture: Supplied

Teachers have started EQ sessions, the first theme being “Growing Calmness”. In these sessions, teachers focus on mindful breathing and finding inner calmness. This will help when children are scared, angry or sad.

“This is all about emotional regulation and how to delay an emotional response until the child can make good behavioural choices,” the school said.

The teachers have put “calm corners’ in each junior primary classroom, places where a child can be guided into a safe emotional space. When a child is emotionally upset, he or she is unable to engage the pre-frontal cortex (the CEO of the brain). The calm corners allow them the space to self-soothe until they are back “online” and able to engage and learn.

Happy heart

The optimal conditions for learning, according to Gavin Keller (a leading SA educator, who has used research in neurolearning to drive change in his school and community), are:

Movement and brain breaks;
A full, relaxed stomach;
A happy heart – there are 40 000 neurons in the heart;
A calm brain stem (this is the part responsible for fight/flight/freeze);
A sense of connection and belonging from the limbic system (controls the basic emotions);
The pre-frontal cortex needs to be alert and “online”

When there is an overload of stimuli, the brain is no longer capable of calm thought. This enables children to be better problem solvers and to be able to learn from one another.

Wembley College thanked Reveni Aheer for all her input and said the school would continue to educate, nurture and inspire pupils to be individuals who can learn, create, grow and flourish.