I found a beautiful opportunity to talk about children’s fears seriously in the ESL class, learning some new vocabulary and, at the same time, helping them learn to cope with their fears.
“There is nothing to be scared of”.
Fears are an integral part of the normal development process of children. Fear reflects the insecurity the child experiences in a frightening world, whose rules he does not yet understand. Fear is also an opportunity to understand your younger students better -- a process from which you will emerge both stronger and encouraged.
“That ghost decoration looks scary to you? If you look underneath the sheet, you can see it’s just plastic. It is not real.”
Pretend play can provide children with excellent opportunities to work through their fears. Providing props and costumes that are related to children’s fears can give them the space and time to work through those scary feelings and ideas in a safe and developmentally appropriate manner.
But another great way to help children work through fears is through children’s literature. Reading about a character in a book who is facing their fears can give kids strategies to deal with their own.
There are many books on the market that deal with fears and other emotions. Find one or two in your bookshop, and read them with your young students. As you read, talk with them about the story. If they bring up their own fears or emotions, this is an opportunity for you to talk with them, to learn some new vocabulary, structures and grammar and, above all, to face directly with their fears and reassure them.
Reading the story will allow your students to identify with the characters and learn how they coped with their fears.
Some book recommendations:
- There's a Nightmare in my Closet, by Mercer Mayer
- There's an Alligator under my Bed, by Mercer Mayer
- The Berenstein Bears and the Bad Dream, by Stan Berenstein
- Chester the Brave, by Audrey Penn
- The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark by Jill Tomlinson
- The Little Old Lady Who is Not Afraid of Anything by Linda D. Williams
- Tickle Monster by Josie Bisett
We read Little Mouse's Big Book of Fears by Emily Gravett. After reading and understanding any single fear, talking about personal fears and learning how to ask and answer about them, we made Our Big Books of Fears.
Have a look!
Sources: www.msue.msu.edu and www.traumaweb.org/