Social Emotional Learning Through The Arts!

What Can We Learn From the Mona Lisa?

How many people across history have looked at the famous painting, Mona Lisa, and wondered, “What is she thinking?” 

Turns out, being able to read people (aka emotional awareness) is a crucial skill our littles need in order to grow in self awareness and compassion, not to mention job interviews in the future. 🙂  Seriously though, we all need to be able distinguish what someone else is feeling by picking up on social emotional cues. Equally, if not more importantly, we need to be able to distinguish what we, ourselves, are feeling! 

This got ME thinking recently. What if we used famous pieces of art to work on emotional awareness? FUN! In more ways than one! 

Are You Talking About Those “Soft Skills?”

Traditionally, the skills we use to read others, understand our own emotions, and make connections have been called “soft skills.” Wow. All I’m going to say is that I am glad this is changing! This term makes us believe that these skills are somehow less important than other “harder” skills. “Hard skills” are certainly important, but if we lack social emotional awareness, then how can we ever use our “hard skills” to actually connect with others and work together? 

How Do We Become More Emotionally Literate?

A big part of becoming more emotionally literate is learning how to identify emotions in others and in turn, in ourselves. It’s about finding ways to become more aware of what joyful, lonely, angry, frustrated look like and feel like. 

Good News! 

I think there’s a fun and super enriching way to dive into increasing emotional literacy through ART! In reality, all of the arts are a huge lesson in emotional intelligence because we are self evaluating when we create. We are using both sides of our brains, the reasoning and the creative. But beyond this added bonus whenever we take part in the creative process, I’ve developed a lesson based on looking at famous works of art and leading young students through the process of creating a vocabulary surrounding emotions and being able to recognize them in ourselves and others. It’s a lot of fun and so, so valuable for deep thinking and reflection skills. In short, I believe it helps us CONNECT better with ourselves and the world around us. And who doesn’t want that?

Don’t forget to check out our The Culture Canvas monthly newsletter and be in the know first when we announce our monthly Art Parties, where we explore themes like this one, connect, and create together! Our last one included some discussion questions to go along with this little diddy.

You Belong.


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