Wishing You Well – Supporting Wellbeing in the Classroom
Wellbeing has never been more vital for every person in today’s uncertain times. It can mean different things to different people, however, no matter your gender, age or interests, it needs to be part of our daily practises or routines.
Even without our current world crisis due to the Coronavirus, wellbeing has become even more necessary. Everywhere you look on social media people are making references to mental health and wellbeing. They are opening up about their own issues or problems, sharing good practices and offering support to others. Wellbeing is taking over and for very good reason.
What is ‘wellbeing’?
The World Health Organisation states that wellbeing is “a state of complete physical, mental, and social wellbeing, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
Wellbeing is definitely a journey and not a destination. It is part of every person every day and refers to your state of mind. People tend to think of wellbeing in a negative way, linking it with anxiety, panic and depression. However, wellbeing refers to how well you are feeling, and it is important to create a positive spin on the theme.
Why is wellbeing important?
Wellbeing has always been there, we’ve just not been brilliant at understanding it. But as more and more people suffer with their mental health and as the world evolves it has become apparent that we need to address our wellbeing on a daily basis. Deaths by suicide in the UK rose by 10.9% in 2018 and the rate of deaths under 25s has seen massive increases. Mind and body are so clearly linked and, in order to be healthy overall, your mental health needs to be good.
Children have a limited concept of what wellbeing is and why it is important. Therefore, it is our job as teachers to help educate them and I am very happy to see that the DfE has made Physical Health and Well Being and Relationships education compulsory from September 2020.
For lots of children, the culture of school brings consistency. They can socialise with their friends and the security of the day to day routine including the familiarity of the adults makes them feel safe. It is so important to remember that children have varied needs, come from different backgrounds and will have had different home experiences. Home can be an unsafe place. Safeguarding will be heightened at the beginning of the school year so make sure you are up to date on your school’s Safeguarding and Child Protection policies.
Up to 8 million children have potentially not been to school for 6 months. They have been in their home setting for such a long and strange time, not being able to go out or see their family or friends. The normal they knew no longer exists and what has become their norm is about to change. Children will be feeling all sorts of emotions, ranging from anxiety to excitement.
What might wellbeing look or feel like?
Wellbeing will be different to everyone, depending on their age, gender, capabilities or even interests. I have enjoyed trying many different wellbeing techniques, from yoga and meditation to mindful colouring or taking a walk in nature. I have even done some with my own children. It is important to make wellbeing work for you. Making time for it is essential.
Wellbeing in School
Having researched wellbeing, I found a few schemes of work available to the primary sector. They cover wellbeing within a wider approach to PSHE. None were really that ‘child friendly’. By that I mean, the ideas or concepts behind the scheme were good but children may struggle to relate to them or find them engaging. Any type of learning needs to be meaningful, memorable and fun. There has to be a clear purpose, delivery or learning process and clear outcomes which have a positive impact for children.
What does the teaching and learning of wellbeing look like in the classroom?
As trained professionals, teachers are usually vey good at spotting if a child is in some kind of emotional distress and responding with the appropriate action. But delivering wellbeing as a lesson or session is very different.
Teacher’s Pet have created a BRAND NEW wellbeing resource to support children and schools with the teaching, learning and practise of wellbeing. The resource has been planned to engage children across the primary range, teaching them about their own wellbeing and how to manage it effectively, using productive techniques and exercises.
The resources are not only created from understanding mental health research but are very engaging and relevant to children’s level of learning. There is a clear teaching sequence and differentiation between key stages. The most recent addition to the wellbeing resources covers the 12 weeks in the Autumn term and everything is planned and resources made ready for you to download and use. Whatever approach you take, it should ideally be adopted by the whole school to ensure consistency. Remember to consult your leadership team before implementing any new schemes.
Where to get more help from
There are several charities that provide mental and emotional support to children. Here are a few that we have found. You could advise the children of these support points when in school.
Tips and Tricks
I have always done my upmost to ensure that the children in my care feel safe and secure. From day one of the children being in my class, I made sure I made time for each and every one of them.
- Build trusting relationships with every child
- Create a culture of respect and reliability in your classroom
- Set clear expectations for behaviour and learning
- Have a space in your environment where children can go to calm down or be by themselves – safe space or calm corner are good names for these
- Create consistent routines and share them with the children on a daily or twice daily basis
- Complete team or class building activities on a regular basis
- Develop relationships with parents and carers – they need to know you will take care of their child
So, I hope you are feeling more knowledgeable with how to support and develop wellbeing in your classroom or school. Check out the Teacher’s Pet Wellbeing Wednesday resources and look out for the weekly downloads. The first week will be available on Sunday 13th September! And remember to take the time to look after your own teacher wellbeing.
Wishing you Well.