Last week my kids finished another school year. Hard to believe that in two months they will be in grades two and three! We love their school, and we are some of the lucky ones. The staff and administration is made up of the most wonderful, invested, supportive people you could ask for. I don’t worry whose class they will be assigned to because whoever it is that teaches them, my kids will learn and flourish. My kids make friends easily and are well liked by their peers. The day my son discovered he loves reading was one of the best days of my life. The day I read a handwritten story by my daughter, I thought my heart would actually explode with pride.
But here’s what really impressed me…
Little by little I started noticing that the kids were paying more attention to their emotions. Instead of just screaming at each other, they would start to say things like, “I am so angry right now!” which, if you have irrational and crazy kids like mine (you know you do), is very significant and mature. My daughter started doing something called “mindful breathing”. I finally asked them what was going on, and they took me to the halls of their school to show me…the Zones of Regulation.
Their teachers had been talking to them about emotions, and how certain specific emotions can be grouped together, making up different coloured zones. They strive to be in the green zone, but recognize that my son is often in the red zone and my daughter is often in the blue zone. This was so eye opening for me! I had no idea my kids had become so self aware and intuitive. I had no idea that schools had embraced knowledge outside of the multiplication tables and colouring endless maps of the country.
Don’t get me wrong, we talk a lot about feelings and emotions at home. Two kids who have lost their dad at a painfully young age are bound to go through some tumultuous journeys. Nights of crying themselves to sleep, laughing at sweet memories, heartache and homesickness for someone long gone, peace and thankfulness for the time we had. They’ve been all over the place in ways I wouldn’t wish on anyone. So yes, they get plenty of education on mental health and self awareness at home, but it’s something else entirely to have those same lessons echoed in the place they spend 30 hours a week.
It gives me hope for the next generation that kids like mine are learning fundamental tools for recognizing and regulating their own emotions. These sweet little kiddos will one day be teenagers, surging with hormones and angst and all kinds of dark and twisty emotions. If we’re lucky, they will have retained some of this knowledge, instilled in them at such a young and foundational age, and will better be able to cope with the rising and falling rollercoaster of adolescence. I hope it carries on with them through the stress and trials of university, marriage, having children of their own.
The horizon of their future is a thousand storm clouds and rainbows waiting to happen. May they remember that in elementary school they were given umbrellas and rubber boots, sunglasses and a dry set of clothes.