Kids College specializes in the ground-breaking work of fostering emotional intelligence. Over our thirteen-year history Kids College has grown and developed a very high level of expertise in fostering emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence is defined as the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and action.

Our modern children need us to expressly teach them emotional intelligence skills, just like we teach the three R’s – reading, writing and arithmetic, as the saying goes.

Neuroscientists, scientists, psychologists and intelligence researchers came to agree that emotion and cognition work hand in hand to perform sophisticated information processing. Three most important aspects of learning are attention, focus and memory. These are all controlled by our emotions.

Like all other types of development, emotional intelligence occurs over the course of early childhood and needs to be highlighted and intentionally taught.

Our vision is to increase emotional intelligence and emotional literacy that stands as a solid base for all future learning.

We build the skills needed for emotional intelligence through a positive environment culture and understanding the value of emotional intelligence.

When we unlock the wisdom of emotions, we can raise healthy children who will both achieve their dreams and make the world a better place.

Recognise emotions in self and others

Emotions are actually hard to learn. We are not just trying to distinguish between two similar emotions but to match that up with the non-verbal cues which are displaying too. Emotions are deeply internalised in not just what we say but how we are communicating with our whole bodies.

We recognise our own emotions and those of others not just in things we think, feel and say but in facial expressions, body language, vocal tones and other nonverbal signals.

We become attuned to our children comprehending their feelings and embodied communication such as through their facial expressions, vocalisations, body movements, gestures and eye contact.

We intentionally and expressly teach children to notice these cues, label emotions and understand how emotions affect us all.

The art of sign language is particularly powerful in tuning into our bodies non-verbal communication.

Expanding our emotions words vocabulary

When children get used to using feeling words, they get used to applying these words to their own experiences and others.

By building a nuanced emotions vocabulary ‘if you can name it, you can tame it, we can decode our feelings and better understand them and our reactions.

We created our own mood meter to teach the children how to label their emotions.

The Mood Meter is a tool used to help children think concretely about emotions and to learn to recognize feelings in themselves and others

Our Mood Meter is made up of four different coloured quadrants that

each represent different types of feelings tracked against energy and pleasantness.

We start with four basic feelings (happy = yellow, angry = red,

sad = blue, calm = green) and then add more advanced feelings from there. 

We combined our Kimochi’s characters to align with the mood meter so our children would understand them easier with the familiar prompts of the Kimochi characters and emotions that we have used for years now.

Kimochi’s come with a big set of emoticon like mini teddies each with their own emotion depicted which children use to identify and label their feelings.

By combining mood meter with Kimochi’s we have scaffolded children’s learning from something familiar to assist them to understand something new.

How do we want to feel?

From the early stages of recognizing and labelling emotions we extended our approach to designing a simple classroom charter of how we want to feel.

The classroom charter is not a set of rules list, it is a set of ideals to strive for to create a happy classroom. We started with very simple phrases and then went on to develop a more informative charter including our Kimochi characters with the simple text.

We have collaboratively developed a charter mission statement explaining our shared feelings valued in the classroom to identify behaviours and guidelines to create the happy classroom we envisioned.

This builds and sustains our positive emotional climates agreeing on how we want people to feel and how to help each other to experience those feelings.

Our children’s charter was developed around their own unique values and includes the way they want to feel; safe, helpful, brave, friendly and kind.

Due to the age of our little people we decided to link each statement to the familiar images of the Kimochi characters that label that emotion.

We have also developed an adult’s charter of values that support our feelings of belonging. This includes respect, responsibility, integrity, creativity, diversity and endeavour.

Choosing to express emotions appropriately

We need the ability to actively choose a response to an emotional situation with strategies that support healthy relationships and personal wellbeing. To make an active choice rather than just a heat of the moment reaction.

Think of yourself being cut off in traffic. How do you react? How do you want to react? Hopefully you choose an appropriate reaction, but how did you learn these controls in the first place? What makes us count to ten to calm down? Someone somewhere taught us all this and in today’s age of technology, sadly, emotional intelligence is on the decline.

Expressing our emotions appropriately is a task that takes express learning. To arm ourselves with the ability to react appropriately requires us to develop self-regulation.

Self-regulation is the ability to manage energy states, emotions, behaviour and attention. The ability to return to a balanced common constant state of being.

We believe in teaching children reflective practices and self-regulation that recognise triggers and cultivates one’s “best self”.

We developed a chart that has visual and written suggestions on how to appropriately choose to react while we are feeling big emotions.  We worked collaboratively with the children and came up with the suggestions together. These charts are put up where the children can easily see and use them, and we can see the children referring to these charts and acting on them.

For example, once a child has identified they are feeling mad they chose on the mad, sad and bad strategies poster a response, such as ‘smell the flower and blow out the candle’ (breathing exercise for self-calming) and then choose to go hug a person or a huggable special toy.

In this way each child is supported to regulate their own behaviour, respond appropriately to the behaviour of others and communicate effectively to resolve conflicts.

Emotion coaching to regulate emotions and build empathy

We do lots of physical things to assist our children every day, such as tie their shoelaces, make meals and get their bags packed. There’s just as much need to assist them to become better at managing their emotional reactions by helping them to notice and manage their emotions.

We use emotion coaching to help children name their emotions, understand their emotions and learn ways to manage them.

This is the goal of emotion coaching: to immerse children in a feeling language where they not only experience attunement, but where they also get used to a language to describe their emotions. We empower children with a language and skill to calm themselves and self-regulate.

We prompt reflection on personal feelings and perspectives as well as others’ feelings and perspectives as an essential ingredient in problem solving.

To emotion coach, think in terms of being a mirror to children’s feelings. By being a mirror, we reflect back what their children may be experiencing with reflective statements – when used properly – it can be a powerful tool to calm a child.

We guide children through the self-reflection process.

What are the emotions we see?

I can understand that…

What we did.

What can we do if it happens again?

Theorists that we believe in

We believe in Piaget’s views of a cross curricular program with emotional intelligence being embedded into every part of our pedagogy.

Children’s experience of positive caring relationships and interactions with others play a crucial role in healthy brain development.

We teach through relational pedagogy which links to Bronfenbrenner’s ecological theory. Each child’s individual experience is at the centre within a nested interconnected system. What this theory means, is that no child is an island alone. Each child needs to be seen as a whole child with varying outside influences to take into account from family, educators and communities.

Here we tap into Goleman’s work on fostering emotional intelligence. All the education we facilitate here at Kids College is possible through strong, trusting and loving connections. Reliably responding to our children’s needs builds the trust and strong connections.

Bowlby placed a huge importance on attachments. We need to connect in a meaningful way and become a family together. Educators who are attuned to children’s thoughts and feelings support their learning development and wellbeing.

We view our educators as performers and guides knowing each child and supporting that child to learn more through our relationships together and our interactions. This speaks of Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development whereby teachers scaffold children’s learning and allow them to move from what they can achieve themselves to extend that learning with the right assistance from us at the right time.

Teaching emotional intelligence Toolkit

We have always believed in using social emotional programs in our centre and it has always been a part of who we are.

We are building on our focus of social emotional intelligence at Kids College and the programs that we already are involved with;

  • Building brains, attachment theory


  • The RULER Approach to managing emotions


  • Sign language supporting non-verbal communication


  • Kimochi’s feelings curriculum


  • Play and learning to socialise skills development


  • Art therapy


  • Talk Less Listen More


  • 1-2-3 Magic and Emotion Coaching


  • Be You supporting Mental Health


  • Staff Wellbeing handbook

Building brains, attachment theory

Building brains has demonstrated how children’s brains begin developing before birth and how this development is encouraged through nurturing and responsive relationships in the early years.

We have learnt to translate theoretical knowledge into practical examples. These ideas highlight the importance of everyday experiences that affect and grow brain connections.

The significance of early influences on brain through play, nurturing and positive relationships strengthens the brain connections and is at the heart of our interactions with our children.

Each interaction actually build the neurons in their brains setting up networks of learning pathways.

The RULER Approach

Kids College are proud to be the only childcare in Australian and the second in the world to be welcoming the RULER approach.

Our involvement was ground breaking as I worked with Prof Brackett at Yale University to amend this approach for early childhood and further customise it for our unique Australian perspective.

RULER is an evidence-based approach to social and emotional learning. RULER supports entire school communities in understanding the value of emotions, building the skills of emotional intelligence, and creating and maintaining a positive school climate. Their approach leads to measurable improvements in emotional skills, effectiveness and well-being.

RULER aims to infuse the principles of emotional intelligence into the immune system of schools, enhancing how students learn, teachers teach, families parent, and leaders lead.

RULER approach is not another set of lessons, it is embedded into the fabric of who we are and is linked in to our everyday interactions with our children and our families.  We match to each child’s needs, interests and abilities viewing children as competent capable learners assisting them through assimilation and accommodation to learn new information.

Sign language supporting non-verbal communication

We are proud to support sign language as a second language supporting the ACARA curriculum in schools.

Sign language gives us a tool to bridge the gap in communication between small children and adults.

Children interact verbally and non-verbally with others for a range of purposes. We provide opportunities for visual communication with our sign language program.

Sign language is learnt collaboratively by the children and the adults together and enables us to understand their messages through the combination of gestures, tone, facial expressions coupled with signs.

This deeper understanding leads to greater attachment bonds with our precious littlest babies. We update our sign language training at least every two years. We use resources form Baby sign language kit, Signing Stars and AUSLAN Key word signing

Kimochi’s feelings curriculum

Kimochi means ‘feelings’ in Japanese. Kimochi’s are a set of characters which come with characteristics and feelings. They come with a big set of emoticon like mini teddies each with their own emotion depicted which children use to identify and label their feelings.

Kimochi’s help children learn to identify, express their feelings and practice communicating feelings in positive ways. The guide creates opportunities to learn social skills, friendship skills, empathy, respect and tolerance, conflict resolution; independence and resilience, behaviour and self-regulation.

When children are able to express themselves, they cultivate confidence, self-esteem and character.

Children are encouraged to manage life’s challenges by choosing to be respectful, responsible, resilient and compassionate.

Play and learning to socialise

Playing and learning to socialise (PALS) teaches social skills in a systematic and thorough way with the aid of puppet characters Anna the kangaroo, who is a young child, Jack the koala, who is a young child and Kate the kookaburra their teacher.

When children are able to perform social skills well, they develop positive relationships with other children and adults, learn to manage conflict and they learn to express their own feelings. As a result, they develop a strong sense of self-esteem and self-confidence thus increasing their emotional intelligence.

The skills expressly taught are: –

  1. Greeting others
  2. Talking turns: talking and listening
  3. Taking turns at playing
  4. Sharing
  5. Asking for help
  6. Identifying feelings
  7. Empathy
  8. Overcoming fear and anxiety
  9. Managing frustration
  10. Calming down and speaking up

Dustan Baby Language 

Dunstan baby language explains five universal words (or sound reflexes) used by infants to communicate. Understanding how babies try to communicate reinforces attachment and security between baby and adults who are better able to meet baby’s needs and develop secure and trusting bonds. Sounds we can identify through Dunstan baby sounds include:-

Neh (I’m hungry), Owh (I’m sleepy), Heh (I’m experiencing discomfort), Eairh (I have lower gas) and Eh (I need to be burped).

Art therapy

Whilst we are not art therapists, we are aware of the powerful influences on children and adults who get involved in all kinds of creative art.

Art therapists agree that the creative process itself that is involved in the therapy has therapeutic power.

Art making can provide individuals with the opportunity to express themselves in creative and non-linear ways, which can deepen the experience of the self, offering potential for insight and ultimately personal healing.

Emotional Safety – it can offer children a safe way to share their story in a non-confrontational manner.

Art Space – the actual space can offer children a place to explore, experiment, test boundaries, make a mess, let go, process unconscious and conscious material and reflect it back in an acceptable manner.

Talk Less Listen More

How we feel directly determines our actions. We view behaviours as the clue to underlying emotions and take time to interpret these and build on emotional intelligence strategies.

Talk Less Listen More is a program of easy-to-use techniques to help children develop more self-control and to respond more flexibly to frustrates and upsets.

The program draws from attachment theory (how relationships can influence behaviour) and social- learning theory (how children can be taught by those around them about how to self-regulate).

It has an application for in homes and in early childhood education settings, resulting in a consistent approach between homes and childcare or schools.

1-2-3 Magic and Emotion Coaching

The foundations of Talk Less Listen More link to the 1-2-3 Magic and Emotion Coaching program.

We recognise that families are children’s first and most influential teachers. Continuity between home and the early learning setting is important for families as well as children. This program has applications for childcare setting and for the home setting thereby facilitating continuity.

1-2-3 Magic and Emotion Coaching is based on two underlying perspectives on parenting: first, that children can be taught to respond more flexibly when they are frustrated or upset and second, that parents and carers can be taught easy-to-use skills they can use at particular parenting moments.

Be You supporting Mental Health

Be You aims to transform Australia’s approach to supporting children’s and young people’s mental health in early learning services and schools, from the early years to 18.

It is a national initiative
for educators, aimed at promoting and protecting positive mental health in children and young people.

They envision an education system in which every learning community is positive, inclusive and resilient, and where every child, young person, staff member, and family can achieve their best possible mental health.

Be You empowers educators by supporting them
to develop their mental health skills and knowledge, while also providing guidance on how to implement a whole‐learning community approach.

It offers a range of online, evidence‐based tools and resources aimed at improving the skills and knowledge of educators
to foster and support mental health and wellbeing in children and young people.

Be You supports embedding good social and emotional learning practices with the aim of maximizing the resilience of children and young people, to reduce the risk of future mental health issues.

Staff Wellbeing handbook

Our social emotional focus extends to our staffing team and families. We play a big role in becoming partners with families and joining them in our shared role of education and care for their beautiful children. We have developed a wellness handbook that focuses on us as adults taking care of ourselves.

An example from the book would include suggestions to drink water, take a long bath with candles, treat yourself to your favourite dinner and to practice a brief meditation as a start to your day.

Particularly working in early childhood education, the ability to remain calm and to be teaching from a ‘full cup’ would be very important to everyone.

Measured improvement in outcomes for children

We are not resting on our Exceeding quality rating; we are actively improving day by day to create better and better outcomes for the children entrusted into our care.

To measure our previous quality position and to measure any changes experienced by implementing emotional intelligence education programs we have used the Respect, Reflect and Relate (RRR) resource to guide us in attaining an actual measure of difference as a before and after picture.

RRR gives us the perfect way of actually measuring the quality of our early childhood setting.

The Observation scales in RRR comprise of two predictor variables – Relationships and Active learning, and two outcomes’ variables – Wellbeing and Involvement.

The observation scales are designed to assess the overall quality of relationships and the learning environment and overall levels of children’s involvement and wellbeing rather than serving as an assessment of individual children or educators.

In other words, the quality of the relationship between educator and children and the level of educator’s engagement in children’s learning are predictors of quality, while the level of the children’s wellbeing and involvement in their learning are seen as outcomes of quality.

We measured our predictor variable, Relationships with the outcome variable, wellbeing.

We saw an improved connection between the children and their educators, and we saw an improvement in the wellbeing of the children proving that RULER approach is increasing outcomes for children and families.

We were also clearly able to see the level of children’s wellbeing that indicated how well our environment is succeeding in helping children develop trust and confidence, a sense of belonging, self-knowledge, and good emotional health, freeing children to participate in their curriculum learning with vitality and enjoyment.

National Quality Standards

4.2.2 Professional standards. Professional standards guide practice, interactions and relationships

5.1.1 Positive educator to child interactions. Responsive and meaningful interactions build trusting relationships which engage and support each child to feel secure, confident and included.

5.2.2 Each child is supported to regulate their own behaviour, respond appropriately to the behaviour of others and communicate effectively to resolve conflicts.

6.1.1. Parent views are respected. The expertise, culture, values and beliefs of families are respected and families share in decision-making about their child’s learning and wellbeing.

Kids College Philosophy quote

‘We aim to support children’s overall sense of wellbeing and increase their emotional intelligence through the love and dedication to each of their own unique learning journeys.’

‘We value our collaborative partnerships with professional, community and research organisations and enjoy playing an active role in shaping the future of early childhood education.

Kids College family

At Kids College we work each day embedding our values and philosophy into each facet of what we do. We continually improve our practices by critically reflecting and engaging in meaningful relationships with our community and for this we need your support and input. Make sure to follow Kids College Childcare on Facebook, watch for our regular emails and keep an eye on our Kids College website. Join our Kids College family community and share in our vision of creating the very best childcare where children experience love, laughter and learning every day. You can reach us on

With love, laughter and learning from your friends in the
‘village it takes to raise a child’
Teacher Jen and the Kids College Childcare family