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​​​​​​​​​​​​Children in kindergarten may have a difficult time identifying and expressing emotions. They may know they are mad or sad but may not yet have the self-awareness to recognize more complex feelings such as embarrassment, shame, frustration, or disappointment (Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning [CASEL] 2017). According to the five competencies of CASEL (2017), with respect to social awareness, students in kindergarten to grade three are learning how to interact with others and how to recognize the feelings and needs of self and others, although empathy is not yet fully established. Students  can learn to identify feelings of self and others, begin to identify and define what mental health is (compared to physical health). Children learn that mental wellness is important so they are ready to learn. Connect mental health to physical health; in children, mental health conditions such as depression/anxiety may manifest with physical symptoms like headaches, stomachaches, or changes in sleep. At this young age, children are developing their relationship skills through interactions with others. Responsible decision-making provides students with opportunities to make many decisions as age and developmentally appropriate throughout the day at school as compared to prior years when parents, guardians, or caretakers may have made most of the decisions for the child.​

The Orange County Department of Education does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness or completeness of this outside information. Further, the inclusion of links to particular items in hypertext are not intended to reflect their importance, nor is it intended to endorse any views expressed or products or services offered on these outside sites, or the organizations sponsoring the sites.​​​​

Information and Resources

The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL)

CASEL’s mission is to help make evidence-based social and emotional learning (SEL) an integral part of education from preschool through high school.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) provides comprehensive information and resources for people living with mood disorders.

KidSmartz - National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

KidSmartz is a child safety program that educates families about preventing abduction and empowers kids in grades K-5 to practice safer behaviors.

Model School Library Standards for California Public Schools, Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve (internet safety) (CDE 2011)

School Library Standards for Students incorporate information literacy skills. Students learn to access, evaluate, use, and integrate information and ideas found in print, media, and digital resources.​

Zones of Regulation

The Zones of Regulation is a framework and resources designed to foster self-regulation and emotional control.

Curriculum and Lessons

BAM Resources (Mental Health and Hygiene for ages 3-8) - CDC

​This unit has information on the mental health, development, and hygiene of school age children. Topics include bullying, anxiety and depression, stress and coping, and sleep, hand and oral hygiene.

Book List

Kindergarten - Grade 3

Classroom Activities

  • ​Use age-appropriate mind puzzles with texture.
  • Create a poster with a bug, “When something is bugging me, I can _____________.”
  • Create a class quilt to demonstrate sharing.
  • Host a Kindness Week at school.
  • Make cards for senior citizens.
  • Decorate placemats for Meals on Wheels recipients.
  • Host a food drive.
  • Organize donations for a local children’s hospital/shelter.
  • Use emotional charts to identify emotions.
  • Have students journal.
  • Use jump ropes to explore examples of flexible boundaries.
  • Participate in anti-teasing/bullying campaigns.
  • Participate in No Name Calling Week Campaign in January. 
  • Participate in Children’s Mental Health Awareness Month during May. 


​Partnering with the Family​​

  • Working with their family, students create a handmade book using pictures and writing to describe the characteristics of their family and the ways the family promotes empathy, care, and the well-being of others. 
  • Provide parents and guardians with resources and activities to support students socio-emotional development at home. Example: draw or color different emotional states.
  • Students create a poster of three ways they plan to help at home and show responsibility as a family member. Under each goal students will create a weekly calendar to track their progress. ​

​​Partnering with your School​​​

  • Invite the principal, school counselor, or social worker to share how to identify trusted adults at home and at school who can help with mental and emotional health concerns. 
  • Invite a school counselor or school psychologist to discuss identifying and expressing feelings of self and others, anger management, emotional regulation, coping skills, effective communication, and “I feel” messages. 
  • Kindness initiatives 
  • Promote anti-bullying by creating a school wide puzzle piece mural with a slogan like “We All Fit In Here”​.

​​Partnering with your Community​​

  • ​Service​​ activities: Make cards for seniors, decorate placemats for Meals on Wheels recipients, create artwork to donate to a local children's hospital, participate in food drives, donate old toys and books to a shelter. 
  • Introduce students to community resources to help them with mental health challenges. 
  • Host a campus-wide awareness event for Children’s Mental Health Awareness Month in the first week of May.​
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