Welcome to Greentrike’s monthly, child- and youth-oriented newsletter! 

Playful News is a place where caregivers, children, and youth can learn together in ways that are interesting and understandable for everyone. Each issue we’ll discuss the theme of the month, share open-ended experiences to engage in as a family, keep you in the loop on upcoming events in the community, and make recommendations on books, activities, recipes, and so much more.

Monthly Theme: Emotions Matter

The last few years have been unprecedented, difficult, and emotional. Many families found themselves spending more time at home balancing work, play, learning, and connection.  We’ve had to navigate changing environments, responsibilities, fears, and new ways of connecting with others, all while continuing to take care of ourselves and the people around us. In some ways, these changes are even more overwhelming for our youngest friends, who are also experiencing big emotions and turning to the caring adults in their lives for comfort and direction.

Spending time with close loved ones (perhaps family or friends) provides a safe space to unwind, be yourself, and when things get tough – to connect with and express deep feelings and big emotions. By centering our relationships around Social and Emotional Learning, we can be sure that the people we care for know that we can be trusted, their emotions are valid, and tools exist to help us process these emotions.

What is Social and Emotional Learning?

Social and Emotional Learning refers to a range of skills and behaviors that aren’t necessarily measured by tests but can affect academic and personal success for children and youth. Through SEL, young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to:

  • develop healthy identities
  • manage emotions
  • achieve personal and collective goals
  • feel and show empathy for others
  • establish and maintain supportive relationships
  • make responsible and caring decisions

Developing skills like critical thinking, emotion management, conflict resolution, and teamwork are more important than ever. Watch the video below to learn a bit about why.

One way to incorporate SEL into your family’s everyday routine is to check in with your emotions, also known as Zone Check-In. By checking in with our emotions and saying “this is how I feel,” we can learn to acknowledge and respond to our emotions, and the emotions of others, in healthy, respectful ways.

Using the Zone Check-In at the beginning or the end of the day provides a space for reflection, processing, and connection.  It lets others know how we’re showing up at that moment and invites conversation about what we’re thinking and feeling.  Print off and hang the Zone Check-In sheet somewhere in your home to encourage daily emotional reflection.

To practice responding to your emotions, check out the Greentrike OSTI virtual zone rooms, where you’ll find videos, activities, and book recommendations specific to each zone!

Open-Ended Play

Learn how to create a feelings book with Teacher Cheryl! Feelings books help us recognize and become familiar with our own feelings as well as other people’s. For this activity, you’ll need several pieces of paper, something to draw with, and a mirror. To get started, look at yourself in the mirror and ask, “What does my face look like when I am happy?”

Check out the Feelings & Emotions handout from Play to Learn Pierce County for learning objectives, emotion coaching exercises, and book suggestions.

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In The Community

New Year’s Day

This holiday is celebrated around the world as people count down to zero, watch firework shows, and celebrate the end of one year and the beginning of the next with family and friends. Many people also take the New Year as an opportunity to reflect on the past year and to set resolutions, or goals to work toward, for the year ahead. Each person’s reflections and resolutions are different, but here are some pointers to help your family get started on writing your own reflections and resolutions!

Reflection Questions

Think about this last year, 2021.  What is a favorite memory that comes to mind? What is something silly that you remember? Tell me about a time when you felt happiest in the last year? What did you learn? Who did you spend the most time with? We all make mistakes or have things that don’t go as planned; what was the biggest mistake you made and what did you learn from that? What was something hard that you did or learned to do? 

For deeper reflections, follow these questions with ‘Tell me more about that’

Resolution Questions

What is something you want to learn next year? What do you want to get better at? Who do you want to show more love to? What is something you want to stop doing? What is something you want to continue doing?

For deeper resolutions, follow these questions with ‘How?’

Martin Luther King Day

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a holiday observed every year on the third Monday of January – January 17 this year. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a social activist and civil rights leader who spent his life bringing compassion, fairness, and racial equality to all people through peaceful marches and nonviolent protests.

Social activism: intentional actions with the goal of bringing about social change.

Civil rights: personal rights, like freedom and equality, that are protected by the U.S. Constitution.

If you want to learn more about Martin Luther King, Jr. try one of these books recommended by Scholastic.

Local opportunities for engagement:

National Mentoring Month

National Mentoring Month is recognized every January to promote youth mentoring and to celebrate mentors and the positive influence they have on young people.

How can you celebrate National Mentoring Month?

Caregiver Corner

Do you have questions about your child’s social-emotional well-being?

Reach out to your pediatrician, schedule a developmental screening with Child Find, or get in touch with one of our early intervention partners – A Step Ahead Pierce County, HopeSparks, and Birth to Three Developmental Center – to get the information and support you need.