Top tips for pupil wellbeing
19 August 2016Add to My Folder
Rated 2/5 from 1 rating (Write a review)
An estimated three children in every classroom experience a diagnosable mental health problem, and there is growing recognition supporting pupils’ emotional health can have a beneficial impact on attitudes to learning. Place2Be’s Director of Clinical Services, Dr Fiona Pienaar discusses how teachers can play an active role in supporting children’s wellbeing, alongside their academic progress.
As the leading provider of school-based children’s mental health services, we understand that teachers are juggling a lot and that a busy workload can sometimes feel overwhelming. Every class is different, but there are lots of opportunities for teachers to promote positive wellbeing, and help children to build their resilience as they grow up.
Here are a couple of examples:
1. Role modelling – It can be useful to think about your own behaviour and how you deal with emotions such as anger and frustration, especially in front of your pupils, as this can influence how they behave and cope themselves.
2. Coping strategies – Your pupils may already have a wide variety of strategies for coping when they feel overwhelmed by emotions – from listening to music, to talking to a friend or family member – but it can be helpful to discuss and put a name to these. This can help to give the children confidence, whilst also allowing them to learn other ways of managing their thoughts, feelings and behaviour. You could also help the children think about who is there for them to speak to in school if they have something on their mind – including yourself.
3. ‘Worry box’ or ‘Worry tree’ – Activities or tools that provide an open and comfortable space for children to come forward and share what is worrying them and how they are feeling can be helpful. A ‘worry box’ or ‘worry tree’ invites children to write out their feelings and place them in a box or on the tree. This will not only help you to understand how the pupils in your classroom are feeling and what might be worrying them, but also helps the children become more emotionally aware and articulate.
4. ‘Down time’ – During the school day, it may be possible to introduce breaks and opportunities for play and creativity. Activities such as art and role play can be powerful in helping children to express themselves. You could also use drama or storytelling to explore issues, for instance by asking the class to discuss “How does this character feel?” “What could they be thinking about?”
5. Support networks – It is important that as teachers, you look after your emotional and mental wellbeing. Create space in your life each day to relax, to think, to reflect. By becoming more aware of your physical, emotional and mental state, you will increase your awareness and be able to manage your thoughts, emotions and behaviour more effectively. Make sure that you have a personal support system. Identify who amongst your colleagues, friends and family you can turn to for support as well as knowing where to seek more formal lines of support both within and outside of school. Everybody needs a support system.
If you are particularly concerned with the wellbeing of any of the pupils in your class, discuss the situation with the school Child Protection Officer.
For further information about Place2Be, visit: www.place2be.org.uk