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Let's Talk about Emotions

Created byAlison Waterhouse

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Research has clearly demonstrated a strong link between good emotional literacy, positive wellbeing and mental health, and academic performance.

Emotional literacy begins to develop in the earliest years. All the tiny interactions children have with parents, teachers, and each other carry huge emotional messages that they take with them to their future.

Learning involves the ability to manage emotions, neurological processes, and social interaction. These three strands permeate all that we learn and each has to be managed by the learner. At times, our emotional responses to learning, or the learning interaction, can overwhelm our cognitive processes and thus prevent effective learning.

The Emotional Literacy course develops knowledge and understanding of both the importance of developing emotional literacy in our children and young people (CYP) but also a variety of strategies to use within the classroom and across school as a whole. The course looks at how emotions influence learning; emotional barriers to learning; ways to support CYP in developing the ability to regulate their emotions; how to develop a whole school approach to emotional literacy; and how to develop our own emotional competencies.

The Emotional Literacy course is a key course for all those who wish to extend their skills when working with CYP.

Who this course is for

  • Teachers
  • Emotional literacy support assistants
  • Teaching assistants
  • Learning mentors
  • High level teaching assistants
  • Others working with young people

What you'll learn

  • How emotions influence our behaviour and learning and how they can impact on our mental health and wellbeing
  • The concept of emotional literacy / emotional intelligence and what it means for teachers within the classroom
  • How emotional competencies affects learning and behaviour
  • Emotional barriers to learning
  • The concept of emotional coaching
  • The knowledge and understanding of how to be an emotionally literate practitioner and develop an Emotionally Literate School
  • What are Emotions?

  • Evolution of the Term Emotional Literacy

  • Emotional Literacy and Learning

  • The School as a Living Organism

  • Emotional Competencies

  • What the Research Tells Us?

  • Emotional Self Regulation

  • Emotionally Literate Practitioners

  • Emotional Barriers to Learning

  • Emotional Coaching

  • A Whole School Approach to Emotional Literacy

  • End of Course Tasks

Emotional Literacy: Supporting Emotional Health and Wellbeing in School


One of the five books in the Mental Health and Wellbeing Teacher Toolkit for teachers and other professionals working with children, this practical resource focuses on the topic of ‘Emotional Literacy’ and how to support children and young people on a journey of self-discovery where they learn to recognise, understand, share and manage a range of emotions. Promoting a proactive rather than a reactive approach to dealing with the social and emotional aspects of learning and managing the world of today, Emotional Literacy addresses the increasing number of mental health issues arising among young people. Chapters span key topics including Recognising Emotions, Understanding Emotions, Self-Regulation, and Empathy.

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Your tutor

Avatar of Alison Waterhouse

Alison Waterhouse

Educational Psychotherapist and Founder of the Circles for Learning Project

Alison Waterhouse has worked in mainstream, special education, and the independent sector for the past 30 years, specialising in working with children with Additional Educational Needs (AEN) including Mental Health and Wellbeing.

Alison set up and developed an Independent Therapeutic Special School in Kent. She then moved into mainstream schools where she worked as a Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo) and Inclusion Manager. Alison then went on to develop an innovative role in mainstream schools, titled, 'Teacher in Charge of Social and Emotional Wellbeing of the Whole School Community’.

Alison has worked with the Anna Freud Centre, Young Minds, and Optimus training staff in schools on topics including  attachment, emotional barriers to learning, mental health and wellbeing, and becoming a trauma sensitive school. She now works as an Independent Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and Mental Health and Wellbeing Adviser. Alison is also a qualified Educational Psychotherapist and has her own practice in East Sussex.

Alison has spent the past 8 years developing the ‘Circles for Learning’ project in schools. Circles for Learning trains and then supports teachers to bring a parent and young child into the classroom (at the KS1 - KS3 level) once a month for a year. This amazing experience allows children to observe the development of relationships, watch learning unfold, understand how our sense of self develops, and observe and understand emotions and the ways in which they impact on our behaviour. With the guidance and support of their teacher they explore and think about what they have seen and how this may link to their own development, learning, thinking, behaviour, and ways of interacting with others. These parent young child observation visits are the provocation or stimulus to follow up work led by the teacher exploring each of the five essential elements that form the foundations for positive mental health and wellbeing.

Alison has undertaken primary research project and a Masters looking at the impact of the project on children and young people (CYP) within schools. Whilst developing the project she has assorted the knowledge into five resource books which have been published by Routledge. They make up the Mental Health and Wellbeing Teachers Toolkit.

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