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Tools for teaching awareness and empathy

Teaching Emotional Skills and Self-Awareness In Schools

Espoo, Finland
The innovation provides exercises for developing emotional skills and self awareness and demonstrates how these skills can be integrated into the school day and teaching.

What is it all about?

“Everyone can learn to be present in the moment. The idea is simple. Our mind creates challenges because we are not used to being still – therefore we need continuous training.”

- Susanna Ahvalo, teacher, Kilonpuisto School

The modern world is fast paced and full of stimuli that are a source for stress for adults and children alike. It is necessary to practice skills for living in the middle of it all, to be able to distinguish the essential as well as get along with yourself and others.

For this reason, schools should look for ways to invest in a stress-free learning environment, teach emotional and social skills, how to build self-confidence and take care of the general well-being of yourself and others.

This is all related to the practice of mindfulness, in other words, practicing emotional skills and self-awareness.

Emotional skills and self-awareness mean being aware of your own and others’ feelings, an ability to identify and name them, and having control over responsive and behavioral patterns. Good emotional skills and self-awareness help us in social interactions and have more empathy towards ourselves and others.

Good emotional skills and self-awareness help the student to focus their attention on a specific subject, focus on what is important, and calm the body and mind in different situations at school. The student also improves in identifying their harmful or misleading thoughts and learns to consider actions and behavior instead of responding impulsively. All this increases collaboration skills and promotes learning.

At Kilonpuisto School, the aim has been to invest in students' emotional skills and self-awareness by building a suitable learning module for each teacher. It includes individual exercises and guidelines for long-term implementation. In addition, the  exercises include learning about strengths.

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Innovation Overview
7 - 12
Age Group
6 222
Tips for implementation
Eight weeks for the exercises, speakers or other audio equipment.
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HundrED Review

Developing emotional skills and self-awareness from an early age as part of daily school life is a new and interesting approach.


Students’ self-knowledge and self awareness increases and managing everyday life becomes easier.


You can use familiar stories related to students’ social settings and close environments in the exercises. The most important resource required is time for doing them.


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Inspired to implement this? Here's how...

Assessing prior knowledge
Use a questionnaire to assess the students’ prior knowledge and thoughts on emotional skills and self-awareness. The questionnaire aims to assess students’ awareness of their actions and their ability to name emotions, feelings and strengths, among other things.
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Mindfulness exercises
Do mindfulness exercises with your students 2–3 times a week for about two weeks. For example, you can use the following: body scan meditations (13 minutes) or breathing exercises (3 minutes).
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Talk about emotions and feelings
Have a talk with your students about emotions, feelings, strengths and bodily sensations: what kinds are there?
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Put your feelings into words
Build vocabulary relating to strengths, emotions, feelings and bodily sensations and make them a part of daily life. You can use vocabulary based on the talk you had with your students to explore everyday situations.
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Mindfulness session
This exercise is based on the previous steps. The aim is to increase students' awareness of their own body, bodily sensations, feelings, emotions and thoughts. In addition, the aim is to find constructive behavioral patterns in difficult situations.
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Repeat the same questionnaire as in step 1.
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