Reading Faces
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Our kids need to learn not only how to read books, but how to read faces.  "Facial Literacy" is a vital skill when interacting with others because the face provides information that words often do not, or that may for various reasons conflict with verbal information.  Reading these emotions are so important for social (and sometimes for physical) survival.

What do you do to help your kids learn how to read faces?

  • I also agree with Kelli. In fact, I think all kids should be taught sign language in kindergarten, and that it should be used regularly in the schools, partly because kids have to LOOK and really pay attention to another human being, partly because it makes them aware of a population we too often ignore, and partly because it opens up regions of their brains that otherwise go unused. 



  • I agree, Kelli.  We lose so much when we don't incorporate the non-verbal cues - be they faces, posture, how near or far someone stands when talking with you.
  • You are so right.  Ruth, I liked your idea about acting and integrating art too.  In fact I blog about how comics and graphic novels can help because they do just that - integrate writing and art.
  • My family has genetic hearing loss and we started learning to lip read at a very young age and the biggest no-no was to  turn our backs when people are talking. We were also taught to look at peoples faces when they are talking (people who don't know us seem to think we're gawking at them when in reality we are trying to hear them and gauge their facial responses), touch is important too- touching a persons shoulder when someone else is talking to them. I can usually tell peoples moods before a word comes out of their mouth. My son,fortunately has not (so far and fingers crossed) developed any hearing loss as of yet but he has trouble with social cues. He's being raised the same way I was. I believe the best method is to teach your kids to really look at faces of people who are actually in the act of talking,walking,etc. There is so much information lost if you don't look at peoples faces and other body language. Also, I used to take pictures of different people and ask him what their faces were saying,like Brynne said. What a cool thread!
  • That is a fantastic way to teach people to read faces, and to be able to empathize with all kinds of folks, not just those who are like "us."


    I was thinking that two ways to help kids read faces would be to integrate art and acting their lives. Find people who can teach them to create emotional expressions on paper and on their own faces as well. 



  • p.s. its something we, as writers, can work on polishing with our words, as well. In my mind, the ultimate in showing, not telling, resides in capturing the truths as expressed by our faces...
  • Sorry about that...I wrote the missing piece.

    I worked in the state prison system for many years and used to teach empathy to my inmates which involved a fair amount of 'facial literacy' work. My best results were when I pulled out a big book of faces from around the world. A heavy glossy hardback put out by National Geographic was my favorite. I asked each inmate to tell me what happened right before the picture was taken, why the photographed individual had the expression they did. At first they were clueless but in time they had elaborate stories to share with great insights into the tiniest of facial expressions. Ultimately, it transfered into the real world as they began to surpass even my husband in knowing what kind of day I was having! It was beautiful, hopeful and touching to observe such profound changes in such a short amount of time. Don't let anyone ever tell you that you cannot learn empathy later in life, but how great to be dialoging about it now, when our children are young.

  • I don't have it.  It was either pulled or somehow erased.  It was about using a National Geographic article with pictures of very different faces.  I hope it reappears, it was excellent.
  • What a great idea.  I will have to look for that.  I often use comics and graphic novels.  I blog about one in particular, Laika by Nick Abadzis.  It is about the space race from the Russian perspective and because of the oppression, faces 'told' a lot more than words.  But I really like your idea and will look for it.  Thanks.