How our emotions unite us all blog header

How our emotions unite us all: the power of emotions in the classroom

In a recent webinar, we welcomed Dr. Donna Housman and Emily Stone from Housman Institute! Dr. Housman and Emily led us through an engaging and interactive conversation on the impact of educator training and focused classroom practice. From first-hand experience, Emily shed light on how the strategies from Dr. Housman’s training increased students’, educators’, and families’ understanding of others in the classroom. 

Make sure to watch the webinar that inspired this blog post here!


When children start in childcare, most of the time they are an infant or a toddler. They may not have the words or language to know or say what they are feeling. But given emotion is the universal first language of every child, children do start communicating through their experiences and expression of emotions from birth. As they grow and language develops, they continue to find ways to express what and how they are feeling. 

All adults and children have and experience emotions. Emotions are universal. Even though we think differently, act differently, look differently, and have different life experiences, we all have the common language of our emotions. Some great examples for children are how many get sad when their parents leave at the start of the day, or how seeing their pet makes them happy. Sharing the same emotions unite children and provide opportunities for growth in the classroom.

It is important for children to learn and acknowledge that everyone has emotions and all emotions are okay – it’s what we do with them that matters. While emotions are something we all have in common, everyone is different, unique, and special, and everyone experiences emotions differently. Difference is a large part of life and there is no world without differences in it. As educators, take some time during your lesson plans to point out these differences for children to learn. For example, the differences in the colors of hair, skin, clothes, or names, activity preferences, family structure, etc. 

Once children understand differences, they can begin to understand how different people experience different emotions at different times.

Although our emotions are universal, their causes vary from person to person. The different causes of feelings are based on our different experiences.

For example, seeing a fire truck could make some children happy, if they have experienced fire trucks in a positive way previously (such as through a TV show or school visit). However, that same fire truck could cause some children to be scared if they have had an unfortunate experience of witnessing an emergency that had urgent care personnel on the scene. 

Once we start to learn how people can feel different emotions at different times based on their past experiences, we can begin to build empathy and learn how to manage our emotions and those of others. We can start to learn what causes us to feel certain emotions and over time, learn what causes the feelings of others too. Learning how to manage our emotions and those of others underscores and contributes to our ability to accept and embrace differences with empathy. When we understand where people are coming from, we are then able to support them based on the emotions they are displaying and help understand, constructively express, and successfully manage them, both good and bad. 

Make sure to watch the webinar that inspired this blog post here!

Want to learn more about important topics in early education like loose parts play? Sign up for the next webinar below, it is FREE! Even if you can’t join live, you will be emailed the recording and slides just for registering!

Dr. Donna Housman

Dr. Donna Housman, Ed.D has over thirty-five years’ experience as a psychologist in the field of child development and early childhood education. She founded Housman Institute and its lab school, Beginnings Child Development Center, based on emotional foundations of learning and cognition.

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