This week is Children’s Mental Health week, and with us in our third lockdown in a year, focusing on our pupils’ well being is more important than ever. Most of us are delivering the majority of our lessons remotely, which makes monitoring children’s mental health and general welfare just that little bit harder. We have come up with some ideas to help, not just for this week but for every week!
- Circle Time – this is usually associated with the younger children, but works really well with the older ones too. Obviously at the moment we can’t form a literal circle, but can you allocate some time in your week to have a class discussion? Each week could focus on a different topic, e.g. ‘what makes you happy?’ or ‘how can we help others?’. These conversations will not only allow everyone to get to know each other better but will also be uplifting for all involved. Remember to consider safeguarding issues when asking questions.
- Wishing You Well – is a Conscious Discipline concept where children can nominate people they want to wish well. This can be any other pupils that are absent, family members who are unwell and even people they have seen in the news that are going through hardship. Create a board where those names are written for everyone to keep in their thoughts until the next time.
- Creative Challenge – the arts and being creative can help to protect against a range of mental health conditions, so why not set a weekly challenge for your pupils to create something to bring along to one of their zoom lessons? Encourage the children to use whatever is available to them, not to spend lots of money and time finding extravagant resources. Challenges could include creating miniature scenes from a familiar book, making an Olympic sport out of household objects (safely!) or drawing what they can see from their window.
- No Tech Time – Excessive screen time can be detrimental to children’s physical and mental health, and with little choice for most children but to learn through screens at the moment, this is something we need to be acutely aware of. Consider introducing an hour or two, or even an entire afternoon where the screens are turned off and the children are given a challenge to get outside or get active. This can be cross-curricular or can simply be about being physically active. For example, they could be asked to go for a walk and count the number of lamp posts they see, and then get home and do some work around that number. They could draw a picture of what they saw on their walk, or even write a paragraph about the scenery.
This time is hard for everyone, with poor mental health becoming more understood and good mental health more valued. Use this time to get to know your individual class members and to consider how to get helpful discussions into all aspects of your curriculum. Don’t forget to look after yourself too.
Children’s Mental Health Week: Children’s Mental Health Week 2021
PSHE Association: https://www.pshe-association.org.uk/