Literacy 4-6

Systems Change

Factor Connections

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Emotions are complex psychological states stemming from a person's experiences. They affect our minds and bodies and therefore can support or hinder learning. Feeling safe and accepted has particular impact on learning to read and write, as anxiety can overtax the brain making it harder for students to fully comprehend a text or successfully plan their writing.

Main Ideas

Several aspects of Emotion can drive reading and writing development:

  • Emotion knowledge is understanding what emotions are and properly recognizing them in others' facial expressions and speech. As students get older, they develop the ability to understand more complex emotional concepts, such as mixed emotions.
  • Emotion regulation is the ability to control emotional arousal in order to learn adaptive functioning (the ability to complete daily tasks, cope with changes in the environment, and function successfully in a classroom) and is an important aspect of social competence.
  • Mental health is the combination of our emotional and psychological well-being and adjustment. Emotions are dynamic and will always fluctuate over time, so it is normal to experience both positive (e.g., excitement, joy) and negative (e.g., anxiety, depression) emotions. However, students who tend to experience more positive than negative emotions overall, and who are able to successfully manage and minimize stress, will have better overall psychological well-being.

Evidence suggests that Emotion knowledge is vital for Emotion regulation, and Emotion regulation impacts many academic skills, including the continued development of reading and writing skills.

Students gauge their degree of confidence regarding whether they can complete an academic task, like a reading or writing assignment, based on their emotional state. For example, feeling confident in their skills and/or interested in the topic can positively impact a student's self-efficacy, making it easier for them to do their best and seek out more challenging tasks.

Specifically, Emotion supports reading interest and success. Students who have reading anxiety will have a more difficult time focusing on reading materials, and their reading comprehension can suffer, while students often pay more attention to reading that is emotionally compelling, such as texts with surprise or suspense.

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