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Putting emotions into words: Speech and language centre offers new kits this Fall

Putting emotions into words
Photo courtesy of R. Khobieh
Montreal - Thursday, December 8, 2022

by Razan Khobieh

Research has shown that more than 80 percent of students with emotional and behavioural difficulties also have significant unidentified communication needs, according to the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists. These needs go unrecognized because they are often masked by challenging behaviours, which can occur because the student is struggling with: 

  • Understanding what others are saying
  • Explaining their actions clearly
  • Having limited vocabulary to express their feelings
  • Joining a conversation, taking turns, asking to share a toy or join in play, or other areas of social communication.

Speech-language pathologists help support students with their communication needs to improve their social emotional wellbeing. This Fall, the Centre of Excellence for Speech and Language Development (COESLD) is providing kits to the pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten classes in some EMSB schools to help children of this age be healthy socially and emotionally.

These kits are designed to help students recognize, understand and find better ways to cope with their emotions. Some children feel stronger emotions than others and have a harder time dealing with them. They may not know how to express how they feel if they haven't learned the vocabulary. It is important to validate our students’ feelings and teach them the vocabulary so that they can truly express themselves. We can then work together to find productive and healthy ways to help them manage their emotions.

Each kit includes several books and toys. The books also have extension activities that can be used before, during and after reading the book. Finally, strategies on how to promote language skills are provided.

The launch

The kits were distributed in November to the English core and bilingual schools that have pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten classes. Currently, the books are in English, and the hope is to make them available in French as well in the future. 

A Q&A virtual session was being planned for mid-January to answer questions from teachers regarding the kit and its use. The team at COESLD is always open to feedback on the activities in the kits and, in collaboration with the schools’ speech-language pathologists, are available for follow-up sessions and any support needed. 

Razan Khobieh is a speech-language pathologist at the English Montreal School Board, and coordinator at the Centre of Excellence for Speech and Language
Development. The kits were prepared by Razan Khobieh and speech-language pathologist Amanda Hajaly.