Whether you are 4 years old or 40, emotional intelligence is an important part of social, academic, and professional success.  Research shows that emotions matter in (1) how and what we learn, (2) the decisions we make, (3) the quality of our relationships, (4) our creativity, (5) our effectiveness, and (6) our health and well-being.  Core to emotional intelligence is our emotion knowledge—what we know and how we think about emotions.

Over the past three years, Friends Center for Children has partnered with the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence to support social and emotional learning at FCfC. With training and support from the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, FCfC has implemented the RULER Approach in its classrooms. RULER stands for five key emotional intelligence skills: Recognizing, Understanding, Labeling, Expressing, and Regulating emotions. The RULER Approach involves teaching adults to appreciate the significance of emotions; to practice and model the skills of recognizing, understanding, and managing emotions; and to support children in developing their emotional intelligence skills.

In order to advance the science of emotional intelligence, a research assistant from the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence is working with Friends Center for Children during April and May of 2016.  Parents were asked to return a signed consent form if they want their child to participate in the project. Those children with parent permission will be asked to complete four game-like assessments that capture aspects of their emotion knowledge.

Assessments for young children need to be short and fun, and the assessments used by the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence are designed to be playful and game-like.  In one assessment, children watch a puppet show and are asked how the puppet feels in particular situations.  In another assessment, children are presented with a picture and corresponding scenario and are asked how they would feel if the scenario happened to them and what they would do.  Children’s emotional intelligence is also measured by asking them to look at pictures of facial expressions and to verbally or non-verbally identify the emotion. 

Research on children’s emotional intelligence relies on partnerships among researchers, schools, educators and families. The close relationship between Friends Center for Children and the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence positions FCfC to contribute to this research on emotional intelligence. Research questions include:

1.      Which assessment(s) tells us the most about children’s emotional knowledge?

2.      How much do children at Friends Center for Children know about emotions relative to a sample of their peers in Connecticut?

3.      In ways can emotional intelligence be taught to build children’s emotion knowledge?

Questions regarding this particular project, research about emotional intelligence, or Preschool RULER may be directed to Dr. Craig S. Bailey at craig.bailey@yale.edu.