Linking Literacy and Language with Social and Emotional Learning
Six children surround Ms. Kirby, sitting on the floor in the reading center. They're reading Welcome Home Little Bear by Maurice Jones. On the first page of the book, the readers learn that Little Bear is lost.
Ms. Kirby asks, "How do you think Little Bear feels?" "Afraid," some respond. "Scared," say others. "How do you know?" asks Ms. Kirby. "Because his face looks scared," says Shammond. "Because I'd be scared if I was him," says Lisa. "Have you ever been scared, Lisa?" asks Ms. Kirby.
After Lisa describes the fear she experienced when she was separated from her mother at the store, Ms. Kirby turns to page two of the book. At this rate, it will take them ten minutes to "read" this short book, but Ms. Kirby is happy that the children are involved in the story and that this follow-up to her SECOND STEP empathy lesson is going so well.
The Preschool Behavior Project
Ms. Kirby is part of a study called the "Preschool Behavior Project," a comprehensive school and home-based intervention for Head Start children who are overly aggressive and noncompliant.
The link between reading, language and literacy, and social and emotional learning is an important aspect of the Preschool Behavior Project. This article describes why and how we combined reading with the SECOND STEP program in the project.
We chose the SECOND STEP program because it addresses empathy, anger management, and problem solving; it's teacher-friendly; and an empirical study had shown it to be effective (Grossman et al., 1997).
However, we wanted our program to address language skills as well, because about half of children identified as having a conduct disorder also have communication and language delays (Kaiser, Foster, and Hancock, in press; Hester, 1997). Since reading is a typical part of most preschool days, we wondered how we could link reading with communication, language skills, and the SECOND STEP program.
Reprinted with the permission of the Committee for Children. © 2007 Committee for Children.
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