Updated: Jun 23
The social emotional development of our children is more important now than ever. Over the course of the last two years our children’s social interactions have been severely diminished.
As a former educator who not only taught teachers but also spent plenty of time in the classroom I understand the importance of social emotional development both in a classroom setting and at home.
Meeting standards, reaching educational milestones and nurturing the whole child are all very important pieces of the child development puzzle.
According to the collaborative for academic social and emotional learning otherwise known as CASEL, one of the five pillars of social emotional learning is the process through which children understand and manage emotions.
If you have very young or early elementary age children you understand very clearly that this age group experiences big feelings and they often don’t know what those feelings are or how to physically and emotionally navigate them.
Another complicated layer we’ve added as a society to the developmental growth of our children is the consistent integration of technology into their learning experiences and their everyday lives.
Particularly during the last two years, we’ve leaned heavily on the use of technology in both the education and entertainment of our children. While certain aspects of technology are helpful and exciting and fun, we know that it can serve to further disconnect us as a society.
Though technology is a powerful tool to help us explore and manage the world, we know that our connection to nature and our inner selves is so important for personal growth and development.
Big feelings happen early and small children need help understanding, processing and confronting them. Having the resources to accomplish this is reassuring and necessary.
My son lost his beloved grandmother at the age of four. Though we lived on a farm and he understood the process of life and death and loss, this was still a very difficult time for him. He was sad. He was angry. He was upset. He felt abandoned.
These emotions often showed up as anger. Other times they showed up in obsessive compulsive tendencies.
As researchers and educators my wife and I worked diligently to discover ways in which we could give him tools to work through those big, confusing feelings.
Some valuable resources for us were children’s books.
Some of the most magical moments we have with our children happen while reading books to them. With this in mind we created the story of Maleku, a monkey from Costa Rica with a very special gift to share.
She was born in the jungle connected to nature in a way that many of us dream about. But even Maleku, living in the distant jungle, can fall prey to the power of technology.
While it serves to nurture her curiosity and sends her on a world wide adventure and fills her senses with experiences, eventually it brings her to a very revealing dénouement.
Throughout our story Maleku uses the power of her breath and her connection to nature to bring her peace and calm and to navigate her big feelings. Whether she is excited or nervous or feeling overwhelmed or even sad, she turns to her breath again and again.
Weaved seamlessly throughout the story are multiple breathwork exercises intended for small children. We’ve used the interior back section of the book to clearly illustrate how to use these exercises. It is our hope that Maleku’s story will give your children a valuable and lifelong tool.