Published: 16th February 2021
Dealing with emotions can be tough for children, but this Hyderabad-based educator promises to be there all the way
Anjali Kariappa Chengapa has had an illustrious career as a journalist and trainer and now, she is dedicating her time and energy to working with children and emotions. This is what she proposes...
Picture this. A child coming up to you and saying, "I am really hungry and I tend to get angry if I don't eat. Can you please give me something to eat?" or in the midst of a heated argument, the child calms down first and suggests that you calm down too. Won't such sense and sensibility from children astound you? Such is the power of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL). In a day and age where children need to learn very many skills, is SEL really important? To answer your question, trainer, educator and the very wise Anjali Kariappa Chengapa puts it rightly when she tells us, "SEL is the plate on which everything else is placed. When you are emotionally upset, you can't cope with anything else. So SEL helps you decipher emotions and offers a framework via which you can express them." And Anjali would know all this because not only did she start SpringUP Leadership in Hyderabad two years ago, but she also has two levels of certification in School Leadership for Social Emotional and Character Development from the Academy of Social Emotional Development in Schools, a part of Rutgers University, USA — not to mention a host of other experiences to go with it.
Anjali in a class | (Pic: SpringUP Leadership)
Books, stories, activities, conversations, schedules and games — the tools are simple and the process is slow, yet the results are rewarding. They work with children from four to seven years and eight to 12 years because the learning is much quicker at these ages and also, the game changes when they enter their moody teenage years. The first awareness that they encourage is that of the self. For instance, during self-awareness, they help you understand how to recognise bodily functions that lead to emotions. Do you clench your fists and grind your teeth when you are angry? Or do you coil into a ball when you are sad? Then comes the social and interpersonal skills, emotional and cognitive regulation and so on.
They work with schools like Anthea Montessori School, TSUS Hyderabad, Shriram Montessori, Sahasra: A Centre for Learning and even homeschooled kids
Emphasising the importance of SEL again, Anjali says, "We are preparing youngsters for a world we know nothing about. For example, COVID. We couldn't rely on old-generation wisdom anymore because we never saw anything like this. So we have to prepare them to look and learn in a global village that is only going to shrink as we go forward." Coping skills vary from child to child, which is why they need to work with every child individually sometimes. For the gregarious extrovert, the need might be to talk it out, while for the textbook introvert, they might just prefer to read. Of course, parents play a huge role when it comes to this. "I believe children are logical beings. So we encourage them to 'partner with their brain'. Upon spotting a difficult emotion, they reason it out with their brain," says the writer who came to the City of Nizams about 15 years ago. They are a team of seven out of which, three are facilitators. They have collaborated and work with Teach For India, Hyderabad and Kids Education Revolution (KER).
Participants during an activity | (Pic: SpringUP Leadership)
SpringUP Leadership works with schools and also individual children, but their approach is 'tripod', meaning they work with children, teachers and parents. And now, they have transitioned online seamlessly. Anjali emphasises on making children emotionally secure, along with their financial and physical security, so that when it comes to it, they are able to unclench their fury-filled fists and reason with themselves with a calm that will become more and more organic as they grow.
They work with 300-400 children every year and have about three to four sessions on a per day basis
What is SEL?
- Skills that help you understand, express and regulate your emotions
- Skills that help you understand different perspectives and build relationships with others.
- In the light of such knowledge and skills, the ability to make sound personal and social decisions in life, school and at work too
For more on them check out springup.in