Monday, February 18, 2013

Habit 5 in 1st Grade: Listening With Your Heart

As a former Communication Studies major in undergrad, I've noticed that my comm. background has heavily influenced my counseling and teaching style when working with my students.  I try my best to teach them the importance and benefits of learning to communicate openly, honestly, and positively with each other.  We spend a lot of time learning Heart Talk, but I was even more excited last week to teach them about Habit 5: Seek First To Understand, Then To Be Understood.  I started my lessons in 1st grade with a review of the habits we'd learned so far right up to Habit 4 when we practice Heart Talk.  The kiddos know now that they are supposed to use Heart Talk with people when they are feeling sad or mad or someone hurts their feelings.  I told them that the next habit would help them listen to their friends if they ever did something that hurt someone's feelings (because we all make mistakes, but we are proactive people and we want to learn from our mistakes and make them better!)   

I told them they would be learning a new word--empathy--and that this habit would teach them how to listen with their hearts instead of just their ears.  I read them the book How Do I Stand In Your Shoes by Susan Debell.  

This book is an EXCELLENT resource if you are trying to teach young children the meaning of empathy!  The kids love it and are engaged throughout the entire book.  At the end, there are some thoughtful questions you can ask to see what they learned about empathy and how to stand in someone's shoes.  After processing the story with them, I planned to have them do a worksheet that they could fill out after interviewing a partner about something that happened to them over the weekend (good or bad).  But, I just didn't have time for it because they go to related arts right after my lesson.  Instead, I did a short version of emotion charades.  I pretended to come into the room very sad and mopey (totally opposite of how excited I always am) and asked them to stand in my shoes to guess how I was feeling.  Then, I reminded them of how having empathy was like listening with your heart, and I asked them what kinds of things they could do to help me feel better and to be kind to me if they knew I was sad.  We practiced some more feelings: angry, embarrassed, scared and I was so proud at how well they all got it!  This is one of my favorite lessons to teach and I was so happy with how well it fit in with Habit 5!


  1. Hi there. I am so glad I discovered your blog! I love what you have written and suggested here! It so resonates with everything we also cover with our songs and lessons. It is so inspiring to discover another educator focused in on helping children learn how to use their hearts and be caring. Thank you. Posting, tweeting, pinning! Giant hug to you :-) Lessia

    1. Hi Lessi! Thank you for your kind and encouraging words! I am equally excited to follow your blog and see all of the wonderful things that you are doing. You make a difference each and every day. Thank you for stopping by!