The Big Heart Journey: Helping Little Kids Manage Big Feelings Through Music
January 31, 2022
Now, more than ever, young children need tools to understand and regulate their emotions. Recognizing this ever-growing need, Taes Leavitt (of JUNO Award-winning children’s super-duo Splash’N Boots and founder of The Big Heart Journey) partnered with MusiCounts to author our newest resource - The MusiCounts Learn Big Heart Journey. This ready-to-use resource helps teachers support young students through their highs and lows (or, in Taes’ words, their “sunny” and “cloudy” feelings), turn their emotions around through the magic of music, and ultimately, feel well enough to engage meaningfully in the classroom. We chatted with Taes to learn more about this resource and how it helps kids cope.
Introduce us to the Big Heart Journey; what inspired you to start it?
I started the Big Heart Journey because I noticed as we were doing Splash’N Boots shows how many parents were asking us to help their children through feelings. Whether it was bullying, anxiety, or grief, we were often asked if we could do something to help. At the same time I had started my own journey into meditation and mindfulness, and I got so excited about the possibility of starting children on this journey from a young age. That said, I started combining what I was learning with music to help kids move through their Big Feelings. I started recording audio and video meditations and music, created an online community, and haven't stopped since!
How do you find children express their emotions? How can music aid children in their journeys with self-expression?
I think a lot of the time children don’t necessarily know how to express their emotions. So when they are hit with a Big Feeling, it often comes out in other ways; through acting out, meltdowns, not sleeping… the list goes on. I think that giving children tools to be able to easily talk about feelings in the moment that they are happening is one of the most important skills we can teach them. Music is an incredible way to access emotions, to help move them through the body, and to help kids express themselves.
How can the Big Heart Journey help kids regulate their emotions in the classroom, and why is this so important?
It’s especially important right now, as kids have had a really tough few years (obviously!) with a whole lot of changes and fear, so you can imagine them coming to class and bringing all of these feelings with them. If they don’t express them, they may have a difficult time focusing, which may result in more behaviour problems. It’s just such an important opportunity to provide students with some tools to express their feelings and move through them. Not only that, but the classroom provides them with a space of other kids feeling similar feelings, so having discussions in the classroom will help normalize their emotions and feel less alone. These activities, along with many more from The Big Heart Journey, aim to do just that.
What are you hoping teachers and young children will get out of this resource?
I am hoping that teachers will get something easy to implement in the classroom to help their students express their feelings, and that students will know that all of their feelings are important and that they have a safe space to express them.
What inspired you to collaborate with MusiCounts?
I have always loved MusiCounts and what they stand for. Music can transform the lives of young people, and so can their ability to move through feelings. Music is such an incredible tool to access these feelings, so it seems like a perfect match!
Big Heart Journey
The MusiCounts Learn Big Heart Journey is a resource for elementary music teachers to use music and games to help kids with self-expression and working their feelings out. This program empowers both teachers and students with a language to put words to feelings and use music as an emotional gateway to self-expression.
Hear Taes at the MusiCounts Learn Back to School Conversation
Though the back to school season has come and gone, the associated feelings of anxiety may have stuck around for many children who have faced another school year ridden with uncertainty and change. Revisit the MusiCounts Learn Back to School Conversation, where Taes and other expert panelists discussed how teachers can use music to get children through hard times.