Discovering Emotional Literacy
In the mid-eighties, after going through intense physical and emotional healing, and watching my peers going through similar experiences, I wondered why we were not taught about our emotions as children. I had been taught everything, from reading and writing to geography, history, math, physics, chemistry, etc. However, none of it had taught me anything about myself!
Why should we learn about our emotions, relationships, and love, through trial and error? With these questions in mind, I spent years learning about emotions, connecting with top psychologists, psychiatrists, and early childhood educators. Up to this point, emotions had been stuck in the realm of psychology and seen as issues to be healed and fixed rather than something that could be learned and used for success in life.
In 1987 I coined the term ‘Emotional Literacy’ sighting it as the key missing ingredient in our children’s education – a previously unrecognized connection. Hand-in-hand with this came the first non-profit organization and media company for the promotion of EL. Enchanté Entertainment (now Kids EQ) and Feel.org.
These ventures are dedicated to teaching children and their parents how to use the energy and information of their emotions to live healthier, happier, and more successful lives. With the help of many friends — teachers, doctors, authors, artists, and business leaders (who became known as the enchanted family). We dreamt that one-day Emotional Literacy would be commonplace and there would be much less need for emotional healing – and thus much less pain and violence in the world.
Enchanté Entertainment / Kids EQ
Enchanté Entertainment (Kids EQ), is a media company dedicated to promoting Emotional literacy at home and in school. Enchanté published a 21–book series on Emotional Literacy and a 6–book series on the magic of color. Enchanté and its affiliates also created, produced and released two award-winning feature films and three television series for children. These were created in conjunction with media partners SONY, Warner Brothers, and HBO, along with producers Norman Lear, actress Shelly Duvall, and former Disney animator Jim George.
In 2019, KidsEQ began expanding its content and training with a new online distribution model – the KidsEQ e-franchise store. KidsEQ is also currently developing a subscription-based game platform with hundreds of SEL (social-emotional learning) games.
Feel.org is a non profit organization working under the auspices of 6second. Established in 1993 by Ayman Sawaf and Rowan Gabrielle with the help of Dr. Christopher Hills, Sirah Vettese and Harold Bloomfield MD., with the purpose of making the term” Emotional literacy” a house hold term. Feel expressed the idea that emotions can be learned, and that Emotions are E-motion = energy in motion: electromagnetic energy, a source of electricity, magnetism and information.
In 1995, in LA at the home of producer Norman Lear, feel launched the 1m signature campaign/petition to demand to teach Emotional literacy at school and at home. Many well renowned doctors, teachers, artist and influencers signed the petition. Feel the ‘Foundation for education in Emotional Literacy” created the monthly Emotional Literacy newsletter that went to thousand of teachers, schools, government, universities etc promoting Emotional Literacy. When 6seconds showed up in the world, Ayman and Rowan fell in love with them and decided it would be better to support and champion 6seconds instead.
30 years after, and as Emotional learning has become mainstream. Feel decided that it is time to change its plans from promoting Emotional literacy, to supporting the EQ children/parenting/SEL industry, the thousands of mom and pop vendors who create beautiful books, games, trainings, apps etc.. with their sales, marketing and distribution. The second plan for Feel.org is developing the Parent Emotional Literacy certification. Ayman and Rowan donated their Enchante publishing assets to the newly formed KidsEQ.com which will become its commercial arm.
What is Emotional Literacy? Why is it Important?
Emotional Literacy is the ability to recognize, understand, and appropriately express our emotions. It is the first step towards building our emotional intelligence (EQ) and the cornerstone of emotional and social learning. (SEL)
EL is key to conscious parenting. It is the first step towards building your emotional intelligence. Becoming emotionally literate is learning the alphabet, grammar, and vocabulary of your emotional life. In a world where academic literacy is increasingly the norm, and others like financial and computer literacy are expected, Emotional Literacy must become commonplace in order for human beings to grow, evolve, and face the challenges of the future.
As we evolve and our cultures change, new forms of literacy are required to give us the proper tools to deal with a broad and ever-changing spectrum of issues.
Emotions are an integral part of human nature. Through them, we respond to life in many different ways, such as anger, happiness, fear, love, and loneliness. Emotions influence our thoughts and actions, they inspire our needs, they affect our bodies and they impact our relationships. They are not enemies to be rebuffed, repressed, or rejected but rather allies to be honored, understood, and directed. Ignored, they become willful tyrants. Respected, they are our cherished helpers.
A major contributing factor to many of the problems in modern society is a lack of awareness, in most people, of the vital role played by emotions. Emotional Literacy is a positive preventive tool which – when properly understood – can assist society in solving many of its ills. It is the antidote to violence, illness, drug abuse, dysfunctional relationships, and global societal conflicts, to name a few.
Emotional Literacy is universally relevant. It can benefit every individual, every organization, and every profession. It has the capacity to transform each person and their relationships.
Emotional Literacy is a profound and beautiful language available to everyone that can be implemented rapidly, safely, and with lasting effect. Learning how to become emotionally literate is one of the best investments that human beings can make for themselves, their children, and the future.
Emotional Literacy is key to taking advantage of all possibilities. It is basic to joy and enthusiasm for life and fundamental to your ability to love others.
‘The Magic of Color Series’ was developed to accompany the ‘Emotional Literacy’ series which is sourced in art and play. Written by Neysa Griffith.
Enchante Entertainment produced two award winning featured films ‘Magic Boat’ and ‘Palooka’, and partnered with Shelly Duvall and Norman Lear in 3 TV series, ‘Bedtime Stories’, ‘Miss Piggle Wiggle’ and Umptee 3 TV’.
Umptee 3 TV, produced with animator Jim George and Norman Lear for Warner Brothers.