How puppets can teach preschoolers to manage emotions

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Puppets can help teach young kids how to better identify and manage their emotions, new research suggests.

Four-year-olds are expected to be able to behave in the classroom, but more and more preschools are kicking children out for bad behavior.

TV shows regularly feature puppets that talk to kids about their emotions. Now, in North Carolina, there’s new research into whether using puppets to teach social and emotional skills in the classroom is effective. To date, 240 preschool teachers have been trained in a classroom management program and puppet curriculum called Dinosaur School.

Katie Rosanbalm, a researcher from Duke University, is evaluating the program. She says children interact with the puppets at “a level of enthusiasm that you don’t see when a teacher is just leading a class,” causing them to absorb the information at a deeper level.

Preliminary results of the study show that kids in classrooms where the teacher uses puppets show significant improvement in identifying their emotions (“I’m angry”) and ignoring emotional reactions to problems (such as aggression). The benefits of the program even carry over to teachers who report they themselves use more positive behavior management strategies in class.

In this podcast episode, Rosanbalm explains the new research and Durham preschool teacher Minnie Best explains how puppets have helped in her classroom:

You can read a transcript of the podcast here.

The Institute of Education Sciences funded the study, which is still on-going.

Source: Duke University