The Many Faces of Us


Social-Emotional Exploration for the Whole Family

Michael Reisman, M.Ed.

Nadjla Sahyoun Bowie, M.A.

Along with the healthy movement and eating activities we do at the Child Learning Center and Milford Preschool, our teachers do lots of work to develop the social-emotional well-being of our young members.   Self-esteem, empathy, kindness and verbal problem-solving are among our developmental goals with young children. Human emotional wellness is as fundamental as our cognitive and physical wellness, as a matter of fact. There is no hierarchy of importance among these human traits, but a dynamic and constant interaction among them within our behaviors and thought processes.   On Thursday, October 10th following our preschool and pre-K trip to the pumpkin patch, Child Learning Center families were invited to participate in an adult-child social-emotional learning activity.

The Child Learning Center hosted 17 families for a light dinner and pumpkin-carving activity lead by life coach Nadjla Sahyoun Bowie, where parents and children were invited to look at printed images of jack-o-lanterns and discuss their emotional expressions.  Some were glad. Some were sad. And some were very, very, mad. Why are they sad and glad and mad? We do not know. Go ask your dad. (Geisel)

According to Lev Vygostky, the father of modern learning theory, culture and social interaction are fundamental to the development of mental processes, including learning. In our activity we talked about our different emotions in a playful and supportive environment, where social interaction provided the grounds for naming thoughts and emotional expressions.

Children chose which emotion(s) they would carve out on their own pumpkins and helped their parents draw and carve out those faces.  Nadjla circulated among the families to provoke conversations with the children: What is the face your pumpkin is making? Can you make that face?  Why do you make that face sometimes?   The idea is to normalize conversations about feelings between children and adults, children and children, and adults AND adults.  The more we can openly discuss our real and nuanced feelings (anxious, nervous, disappointed, exhilarated), the less likely we are to bottle and internalize negative feelings about ourselves.  The more “normal” it is for children (soon to be adolescents) to discuss feelings like the ones we tend to carve on pumpkins, the easier it will be for them to talk openly with their parents later on, when self-esteem and acceptance really counts.

The Many Faces of Us was hosted in conjunction with The Hunterdon County YMCA’s Celebration of the Whole You on World Mental Health Day, October 10, 2019. Nadjla Bowie hosted mindfulness and stress management events throughout the day at Y branches prior to joining families for the pumpkin carving dinner at the Child Learning Center.

Nadjla Sahyoun Bowie is a Life Coach in Hunterdon County about.me/nadjla.s.bowie www.begood-feelgood.com


Oliveira, M. K., (1993). Vygotsky – Aprendizado e Desenvolvimento: Um Processo Sócio-Histórico [Vygotsky – Learning and Development: A Social-Historical Process]. Brazil: Editora Scipione

7 of Vigotsky’s Best Quotes (2018, February 17). Retrieved October 22, 2019, from https://exploringyourmind.com/7-vygotsky-best-quotes/

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