Children being safe, secure and emotionally supported has always been a focus for schools. We know from research that children’s wellbeing impacts on their cognitive development and on them being ready and able to learn.
So, more than ever, with all the changes over the last year, a key priority and focus for our ‘recovery’ and ‘catch-up’ curriculums has got to be wellbeing.
Here are 6 ideas for you and your class:
1. Create a class calm or quiet space together.
For many of us, we have spent months with just our families or in smaller groups in school. Very quickly we can get used to this quieter environment and it will take us some time to get used to the hustle and bustle of a classroom again. It can be an overwhelming place at times, with lots of noises, smells, requests, and people. A calming or sensory space can offer children a haven throughout the busy school day.
Work together as a class to design and plan your class calm space. Talk about when you might want to use it, how to use it, what resources you want to put in there and what to do when you notice someone else in there.
2. Plan some team time!
Your class are your best team! There will be lots of skills and experiences that children will have missed or forgotten during lockdown, for example social skills, sharing, taking turns, speaking and listening skills, and many more.
Timetable in opportunities for your class to be sociable together, read together, craft together or problem solve together. Feeling part of a team can really help children with their self-esteem and their sense of identity.
3. Create your own collection of wellbeing activities
There are so many different wellbeing activities available to download. Start your collection as you find things, so that there is always something on hand when you or your class need to have a break.
This ‘Wellbeing Collection’ from TTS is a great start to any wellbeing collection!
4. Calming Cat
Calming Cat is a perfect class companion for supporting and facilitating conversations with children about wellbeing. With over 140 coaching cards, there are lots of activities and suggestions for how to teach children to recognise their emotions, understand their body’s reaction and learn strategies they can use to support them.
With a weighted body and openings at the side, Calming Cat is perfect for a cuddle whenever needed (for children and adults too)!
5. Plan and teach emotions.
Just like reading and writing, learning how to recognise and regulate our emotions are skills that we need to learn. It is ok to feel all emotions, there are no ‘bad’ feelings. Sometimes we will feel sad, angry or disappointed, and it is how we respond that is important.
Plan lessons or activities to teach children about each emotion in turn. Don’t forget to learn about the happier emotions too.
For each emotion, encourage children to:
- name the emotion.
- draw the emotion.
- talk about what things make them feel this way.
- think about and share how their body feels (from their head to their toes).
- discuss strategies they can use when they feel this way.
6. Be active!
There is a lot of research that links physical activity with good mental health and wellbeing. Planning opportunities to be active within lessons or taking the lesson outdoors can increase engagement, improve attention and support wellbeing. It doesn’t always have to be big active lessons, but adding in activities like marching on the spot, moving between activities or going on a treasure hunt can all help. Adding short brain breaks into the day, can help us all (including staff)!
And remember to look after the adults too
Children learn how to manage and regulate their emotions from the adults around them. When they are feeling upset, worried or anxious, they look to adults for help. Supporting 30 children every day in this way can be emotionally challenging for staff so be sure to take some time to look after yourself and others. Plan some ‘random acts of kindness’ for staff or make sure you plan things into your own day that make you happy!