The Feeleez solution is part of the Center for Emotional Education's mission to empower key leaders in children's wellbeing - via training, support, and effective tools - to create emotionally safe space. Only when children feel emotionally safe can they truly thrive. When adults are educated, trained, and supported in incorporating emotional processing into their pre-existing class schedules, programs, outreach, and families, children receive the help they need to become fully-realized, successful, happy people. In order for classrooms, aftercare programs, and all other approaches designed to support children, to be successful, every adult involved must be empowered with adequate knowledge of how the young brain works with regard to emotion. Our model and methodology applies to any individual or organization working with children.
We start with TRAINING via a presentation on Building Emotionally Safe Space.
In our presentation, caregivers will learn about emotional anatomy:
•We are all good people - we don't earn this title, we are simply born this way.
•We all have needs. Human beings share the same set of basic needs.
•We all have feelings. Unmet needs result in uncomfortable feelings, met needs result in pleasant feelings.
•Feelings result in action. Positive feelings yield positive actions. Negative feelings yield negative actions.
As caregivers we can better inspire positive actions by meeting a child's needs, instead of spinning our wheels mowing down disruptive behavior. The most primary human need is to belong, when this need is met there is a profound ripple effect throughout the whole system. This webinar details ways in which caregivers can provide a strong sense of belonging.
Participants will learn about the emotional spectrum:
Emotions exist on a spectrum. Human nature is to attempt to move UP the spectrum to better feeling emotions. When children are experiencing emotions on the lower end, and do not receive support, their brain will compel them to take action in order to inch up the ladder - pushing another child, for instance, because retaliation feels better than powerlessness. With the support of a caregiver, children can move up the ladder quickly and easily, feeling, (and thus acting), better just by receiving empathy. Empathy is the most profound and simple tool available to a caregiver in moving children up the emotional spectrum. Only when out of the red zone is a child capable of taking in information, thinking clearly, following instructions, creative problem-solving, and all the other tasks associated with learning and performing effectively in school and life.
Course participants will also learn about the systems within the brain:
Our brains are divided into three overlapping systems. The reflexive system provides for basic survival. The social system involves our emotions and determines where to shift processing depending on the emotional safety of the situation. The reflective systems governs empathy, creative thinking, problem-solving and other higher brain functions. When a child feels intense emotions, and does not receive emotional support, processing shifts to the lower (reflexive) brain and the higher (reflective) brain shuts down completely. With emotional assistance, the child's brain is able to process the emotional content and return to higher brain functionality. With routine support from a caregiver, a child will spend more and more time with full-brain function, their brains will develop beneficial synaptic habits with regard to emotional processing, and eventually they will be able to process emotions in a healthy way all on their own - setting them up for greater emotional resilience, and lifelong wellbeing and success.
The Building Emotionally Safe Space presentation also covers in detail:
- What empathy looks like in practice, and how it can be used effectively as a first response in the classroom when time is in short supply and emotions run high.
- The benefits of empathy for the child(ren) and the caregiver.
- How to communicate emotional safety through language and other subtle cues
- How to manage emotionally safe interventions
- How to grow emotional intelligence
- How to normalize emotional processing
- How to activate emotional education
We then provide caregivers with TOOLS to be used within the classroom/facility that make emotional safety and processing, easy and fun. Including:
The Feeleez Matching Game. The game includes 25 matching pairs of vibrant Feeleez cards in a sturdy reusable tin. Kids enjoy sorting feelings by type, acting out scenarios, picking favorites, constructing “feeling walls”, and playing a matching game, but while they are playing, they are also learning about each other, sharing stories of their joys and sorrows, learning valuable emotional language, offering and receiving empathy, and building a community that supports emotional safety.
The Feeleez Poster. An easy way to work emotional processing into the classroom and facilitate an atmosphere of emotional safety is to hang a Feeleez poster in the classroom. The poster illustrates 25 different emotions and can be used for conflict resolution, to share painful stories, to do daily emotional check-ins, and to help find positive solutions to classroom struggles. It can be used in any language, at any grade level, and with children on the spectrum.
The Feeleez ABC eBook. Over sixty pages of Feeleez characters. Every letter of the alphabet is represented by one, or more, emotion. In addition to being read aloud, this book can be used as a screensaver on a desktop or laptop allowing emotional learning to unfold in a casual but meaningful way, and/or it can be loaded onto a device and used as way to emotionally connect with children during trying times on the go.
And caregivers will also receive SUPPORT to keep their dedication to emotional safety active and effective. This includes:
Faculty support with Feeleez founders Natalie Christensen and Nathan M McTague. During routine support consultations, teachers/caregivers/leaders have the opportunity to discuss and brainstorm solutions to particular situations they come up against in terms of promoting emotional safety with the children they serve. There is always a way to honor a child's emotional makeup while providing the required guidance and structure necessary in a school/institutional/therapeutic setting.
The Feeleez Learning Guide. Often the school day is jam-packed and emotional processing can only happen in quick bursts throughout the day, but when time permits teachers can use our mini-curriculum for teaching lessons about feelings. This guide includes over twenty activities designed for kids of all ages, is appropriate for a school, after-school, or home setting, and is helpful for children on the spectrum.
And all three charts used in the Building Emotionally Safe Space course material. Teachers/caregivers/practitioners can hang these on their wall, both to share this information with any children they serve who might be curious, but also to remind themselves of the elements at work when children are experiencing intense emotion.
Our goal with this solution (training, tools, and support) is to facilitate all caregivers, teachers, therapists, parents, and leaders in supporting the emotional health and safety of the children they impact. The object is not to memorize behavioral modification strategies and enact them to make children behave in socially and academically preferable ways, but to change the way we think about children entirely, especially how we connect emotional needs to learning and development. And with this new understanding we can approach children during their moments of upset in ways that help them experience their own emotional safety, re-connect with the people in their community, become and remain available for advanced and focused learning, build a continuing sense of significance and belonging, and develop the capacity for deep empathy and compassion for others. As we work to maintain emotionally safe environments for children in a dedicated, systemic, and prolonged manner, we empower them with the strong neural habits for emotional processing that lay the foundations for greater emotional resilience, and a lifetime of wellbeing and success.
Feeleez is the best tool I have ever used to help foster social and emotional development in the classroom. It works brilliantly and children love it! We pull out the Feeleez cards and poster whenever there are conflicts between two students, when an unhealthy dynamic is brewing (competition, unkindness, singling out kids, lack of tolerance, bullying), and for explicit lessons to teach communication, empathy, and emotional vocabulary. My students show significant growth when I use Feelez consistently with them and many parents comment on how this helps at home. As an educator, it is simple to use and there are lots of ways that you can gain support on the Feeleez website for your own learning. Thank you for creating such a powerful, practical and effective game! We all appreciate the greater happiness and harmony that results. - Kris Laroche, Second-grade teacher, Sussex Elementary, Missoula, Montana
I am a therapist for children in wraparound intensive services and have been using Feeleez in a therapeutic setting with children and parents for over six years. The bright colors and images attract both children and adults. Feeleez is an exceptional tool for helping children identify emotions they are processing in the moment or as a way to process challenging emotions they have experienced in the past. Feeleez can also be an interactive game for parents to use with their children at home to support the therapeutic process. Parents report they enjoy having a fun resource to begin conversations that might otherwise be difficult with their children. I look forward to using Feeleez products in the future and any possible Feeleez products to come. - Annie Elder, MA LMHCA Bellingham, Washington
The posters and the language that are used during trainings is the type that sticks with a person. - Jennifer Lucco, teacher, Missoula Community School, Missoula, Montana
Feeleez is wonderful! My two year old son loves to grab the Feelings Game and just look through it. We have no rules. We just look at the cards. He smiles, laughs and then picks one that he feels needs a hug. He then holds onto this card for a while and includes it in his play. It is helping us build vocabulary, empathy and compassion. I am a special education teacher and use it with my Kindergarten through 5th grade classes. Usually I ask my students to pick a card that shows how they feel or how they want to feel. Then we talk about it. They really enjoy it. And some of our conversations get deep and real. It is most excellent. - Dave S. Miles, parent and Special-Ed teacher, Denver, CO
We recently hosted this class at Green Path Herb School in Missoula and we were very impressed. Taught by Nathan M McTague and Natalie Christensen, the class focused on empathy, and specifically how we can teach empathy to our children. They covered steps to create an emotionally safe home. Natalie and Nathan spoke about how when children feel emotionally safe they become capable of exercising empathy for others, learning at an accelerated rate, and are happy, optimistic people.They were both excellent teachers, providing clear and concise information with lots of examples and visuals to help explain their information. Our students enjoyed the class and I think we all benefited greatly from their information. - Elaine Sheff, Director, Green Path Herb School, Missoula, MT
As someone who has worked with Missoula County Public Schools and other Montana schools over the past 14 years I see the extreme value and significance of the workshop content and the benefits it will bring to students, teachers, and the school environment. ‘Building An Emotionally Safe Environment’ workshop goals of educating about the human brain and emotional health and empathy are vital components to creating a safe, welcoming, and inclusive school environment that will ensure the academic success for all students. Social and emotional learning supports increased student engagement in school, increased motivation and commitment to learn, and positive self-esteem and empathy for others. - Heidi Wallace, Director NCBI, Missoula, Montana