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Social Emotional Literacy

Emotional literacy is the ability to recognize, understand and appropriately express our emotions. Therefore, social emotional literacy is about being able to express our emotions in a social set-up and letting people know them. It’s very important in our lives as it is the basis of perceiving and communicating our emotions, just in the same way verbal literacy acts as the building blocks of reading and writing.

Emotions are an integral part of human nature as they influence they way in which we think and act. They greatly inspire our overall needs; affect our bodies and impact on the way we relate with other people around us. Children who get strong foundations in emotional literacy tolerate frustrations better, engage in fewer fights and behave less destructively than children with poor foundations. The ability of a child to recognize and name a feeling enables him/her to discuss and reflect on his/her personal experiences in life (Joseph, Strain, Ostrosky, n.d.). This greatly develops a child’s socialization and their ability to easily mingle with others. It helps them to solve their problems especially social and emotional. This is because when they share about their past experiences, they get to know what problem others underwent or are still undergoing. From these experiences they are able to learn how to solve various life problems. Consequently, emotional literacy has always been used as a preventive tool which helps children avoid moral and social ills and undesirable behaviors.

The term ‘emotional literacy’ has sometimes been used interchangeably with ‘emotional intelligence’ though there is a great difference between the two. Emotional literacy can be subdivided into: knowing your feelings, having a sense of empathy, learning to manage our emotions, repairing emotional damages, and putting it all together (emotional interactivity). (Steiner & Perry, 1997)

Social emotional literacy is very important in the education sector. It has great impact on the children’s behavior and even their performances in school. Its importance has led to the development of courses that greatly help the children in various schools. Moreover, adults can help children in the development of social emotional literacy. This can be done by labeling the children’s feelings, expressing own feelings in the appropriate way so as to serve as guideline to the children on how they should go about with theirs, use of children literature, setting the stage for friendship, and also through participation in different recreational activities with the children hence increasing their socialization. Three variables can underlie a child’s growing ability to label emotions: the child’s temperament and developmental status, parental socialization and environmental support, and the teacher or the child care provider’s emphasis on emotional literacy. (Joseph, Strain, Ostrosky, n.d.)

Social emotional literacy has massive importance in a child’s life. Positive emotions are created from the established lap reading routine that generates an intimate closeness and a feeling of security. Interactive social dialogue, either between the children themselves or the children with the tutors/mentors builds knowledge on a certain topic and provides immediate feedback. It also structures the process of thinking and concept formation. (Johnson, 2003)Furthermore, social emotional literacy helps develop friendship skills.

Generally, social emotional literacy helps develop the children wholly. It psychologically prepares them to face tougher problems in the future. It also determines their mode and extent of socialization with others. It therefore affects the children’s academic performance and relationship with fellow students and their seniors such as their teachers. In conclusion, proper amendments should be made on the schools’ curriculum to allow adequate training on social emotional literacy.

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