When you’re small, emotions like anger and fear can feel huge. And scary.
One of our STAR Kids Educators, Loretta Willis, was recently in a Head Start class presenting a lesson called, “When Someone’s Mad – But Not at you.” A puppet named Keisha talked about how her Mom and Dad argued. After they finished arguing, Keisha’s Mom started yelling at her. Keisha didn’t know what she had done wrong.
“At this point, a child in the class started crying,” said Willis.
At first Willis thought maybe the child was hurt, or in a disagreement with another child.
As Willis tried to figure out what made the girl cry, the Head Start teacher said, “this hits home for her.”
The teacher moved to sit beside the girl and helped her calm down.
Willis continued the lesson.
“I asked the class, ‘what could you do if adults are arguing and you need to get out of the way or find a safe place to go?’” said Willis.
The child who had been crying was now calm. She raised her hand and shared with the class.
“Grandma lives next door. I go there when Mom and Dad are arguing.”
“This four-year-old child, not only had a plan when things got scary at home, she had the confidence and words to verbalize it to the class,” said Willis.
Through the tools the girl had learned through STAR Kids, she knew how to recognize and process fear without acting out in negative ways, a key goal of social-emotional learning.
How STAR Kids Works
Research has shown that children’s ability to effectively manage their full range of emotions—also known as self-regulation—is one of the most important factors for success in school, work and relationships throughout their lives. The ReadyKids STAR Kids Program empowers at-risk children with these critical self-regulation skills.
The program’s main tool is three puppets and the Al’s Pals curriculum. The Al’s Pals curriculum shows statistically significant improvements in positive, helpful behaviors and social independence.
The puppets - Al, Ty and Keisha – talk together in 46 different 10-to-15-minute lessons about anything from avoiding tobacco to using kind words. The lessons give real-life application of the concepts of resilience and peaceful problem solving.
It’s just one way ReadyKids helps get kids ready for school, ready for relationships and ultimately ready for life.