Research shows that 85% of a person’s brain development occurs before age 5. These first years of life set the stage for lifelong development (National Research Council and Institute of Medicine 2000). When an infant is born, 100 billion brain cells or neurons are in the brain. However, the critical connections that determine a child’s emotional, social, and intellectual structure are not yet developed. These critical connections are formed by the care, attention, and stimulation provided by parents, caregivers, and early childhood educators. When children experience positive and nurturing interactions, a release of chemicals is activated in a child’s brain that promotes growth and development (National Scientific Council on the Developing Child 2004; Shonkoff and Meisels 2000). For example, when adults repeat words and phrases to their babies, infants learn to understand speech and strengthen the language connections in the brain. Connections are also strengthened when children have daily opportunities to practice their developing social competence and to interact directly with their environment (Wisconsin Council on Children and Families 2007). By the time a child is 3 years old, their brain has formed about 1,000 trillion connections!
While we know that infants respond to tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language, Kimochis are safety-tested for ages 3 and up, so we suggest you start at age 3.
Kimochis in the Classroom
The Kimochis Educator’s Tool Kit: Early Childhood Edition is designed to give children ages 3–6 the knowledge, skills and attitudes they need to recognize and manage their emotions, demonstrate caring and concern for others, establish positive relationships, make responsible decisions, and handle challenging situations constructively. These skills have been identified by leading researchers in the field of social and emotional learning as necessary for school success, academic achievement, positive social relationships, and the development of emotional intelligence.
- (5) 13 Inch Kimochis characters (Bug, Cat, Cloud, Huggtopus, Lovey Dove)
- (1) large Mixed Bag of Feelings (includes 33 feeling pillows)
- Kimochis Nesting Heart
- 316-page curriculum – see excerpts including 25 weeks of lessons.
Click the tool kit image to get started with Early Childhood program.
The activities in the Kimochis Feel Guide: Early Childhood Edition are each 5–10 minutes long and:
- Were developed around the CASEL (Collaborative for Academic Social and Emotional Learning) Core Competencies
- Form the foundation for a strong character education program
- Align closely with the Head Start Child Development and Early Learning Framework: Social and Emotional Development Domain
- Provide positive behavior support through the Teaching Pyramid Model
- Provide the communication tools to create a caring school community and a strong transitional kindergarten program
The Kimochis Early Childhood Curriculum Guiding Principles:
- Excellent communication skills are at the heart of social-emotional competence.
- Feelings fuel behavior. Children can learn to use tools to help themselves in difficult emotional moments. These social-emotional communication tools support positive behavior.
- Five principles of character education guide our philosophy. We believe that children can learn to be respectful, responsible, resilient, compassionate and kind, and brave.
- Each child is an individual. Differentiated instruction and assistance can help children who are more challenged to develop their social-emotional competence.
- Inclusive education, which includes all children, regardless of their differences, is imperative to social-emotional development.
- Social-emotional instruction goes hand-in-hand with academic instruction.
- Social-emotional learning takes place throughout the school day in many different educational situations and natural environments.
- Children need opportunities to practice newly learned skills in order to internalize them.
- Adults in the early childhood school community can have a significant influence on children’s social-emotional development through intentional teaching, guidance, coaching, and acknowledgement.
- Early childhood educators have an opportunity to contribute to powerful and socially meaningful change with young children and their parents.
Building a School to Home Connection
The Kimochis Early Childhood Curriculum includes a number of ways to support positive parenting and create strong school to home connections. Parents and caregivers are a child’s first and most important teacher. When parents (or caregivers) and early childhood educators are “on the same page,” children receive a consistent message that promotes learning and supports a positive connection. The more communication and teamwork that can occur between parents and early childhood educators, the more children will benefit.