Managing your emotions is not child’s play, but Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Head Start/Early Head Start is working to make the task simple enough for children to understand and apply, thanks to a $78,000 Violence Prevention grant from the Illinois Criminal Justice Authority.
The SIUE Head Start/Early Head Start Program and Children’s Home & Aid Society in Belleville are partnering to provide social emotional classroom kits for students, which will include books to be taken home for family use.
The classroom kits contain a collection of materials and books about emotions and feelings, instructions on how to designate an area for children to be safe and self-regulate, sensory items to promote calm, dolls that represent such emotions as happy, scared, sad and angry, mirrors for children to observe their emotions, and posters relating to emotions and feelings.
“Because of the increased level of trauma that our families are experiencing, we see the need for more behavioral supports,” said Tammy Wrobbel, SIUE Head Start/Early Head Start special services program coordinator.
The idea to apply for the grant originated with Children’s Home & Aid Society, which has partnered with the SIUE Head Start/Early Head Start Program for more than 10 years.
“Ranae Story, regional vice president for Children’s Home & Aid, alerted me of the grant opportunity, and said there was an early childhood piece to it,” said Heidi Elliott, Children’s Home & Aid childcare resource and referral provider services coordinator. “My first thought was the SIUE Head Start/Early Head Start Program. They provided input in writing the grant, and we received the award notification in January.”
“The grant was written to enhance what we are already doing in the classrooms,” said Wrobbel. “We were expecting to receive the kits soon, but they may be delayed in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, with the supplies that we will be receiving, I’m most excited about the social emotional books that will be made available to families.”
“Each family will receive a set of social emotional books to use with their children at home,” added Elliott. “These books will be an extension of the skills that they are exposed to in the classroom. The home book kits will be the same as the classroom kits to provide a home-school connection.”
Some of the books included are: “The Feelings Book,” “My Many Colored Days,” “Duck and Goose,” “How are you Feeling?” “I Feel Happy,” “I Feel Sad” and “I Feel Angry.”
The SIUE Head Start/Early Head Start Program serves more than 1,300 families and children birth through age five, including children with special needs, throughout St. Clair County. The program also provides services to expectant mothers. The program is housed in 13 early childhood centers, seven managed directly by SIUE staff and six collaborations. The program includes a rigorous school readiness program and provides comprehensive services, such as health/ dental screenings and family engagement and support activities.