Literacy PK-3

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. Cultural and family differences can impact how emotions are expressed and recognized in others.

Main Ideas

Several aspects of Emotion can drive reading and writing development:

  • Emotion knowledge, understanding what emotions are and properly recognizing them in others' facial expressions and speech, begins to develop in early childhood and contributes to academic success, including early literacy skills.
  • 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 development of early literacy skills. Educators may also misinterpret students' emotional states due to biases such as being more likely to perceive Black students as angry or hostile. As a result of different social norms and experiences around Emotion, students may benefit from linguistically and culturally-responsive approaches to addressing emotions.

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

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