As we near 17 May 2021, we can start to think about returning to a more normal way of life. Whilst some of us long for meals out and social gatherings, others worry about how we will cope with life, post restrictions. As we look back on the last year and the collective trauma we have faced, we are aware that we have all reacted in different ways. For some of us the loss of a social life, freedoms and choices have been very difficult, whilst for others, who have lost loved ones, the past year has also been heartbreaking and removed our ability to seek comfort from family and friends as we would have done in the past.
For our children, the past year has been all of this and their lack of life experience has made it harder for them to weather the stress of the Covid storm. Now is the time we need to provide support for our children. At Gateway School, we have taken steps to provide support through our wellbeing structure which has been based on simple things such as encouraging children to sit next to their friends in class, making time to listen to each child about how they are feeling and using mindfulness in class to ensure a calm learning environment. In class, we use our Learning for Life lessons to ensure everyone has time to speak and share their thoughts and feelings. We recognise the importance of being outdoors, through our Forest School programme for Preschool to Year 2 and our sport afternoons for years 3 to 6. We encourage teachers to take learning outside wherever possible in order to support wellbeing. This term we are encouraging staff and Year 6 children to teach everyone a range of playground games.
Last week, Bellevue hosted a Wellbeing webinar, with Dr Nijabat, which was attended by our senior pastoral team. Dr Nijabat reassured us that we had the skills to support our children and that they were demonstrating a normal response to stress. Her strategies were simple, encouraging us to offer the following support;
Talking time - By allowing our children the opportunity to talk and by taking the time to listen to them. We do not need to offer advice, only to show we hear them and validate their feelings.
Validating Feelings - The second thing we as adults can do is to recognise that stress causes changes in behaviour; lack of sleep, poor memory, poor concentration, headaches, stomach aches, increased aggression and expressions of distress. We can provide a supportive response within clear boundaries; understand our children’s feelings and validate them whilst guiding them to express them appropriately, through positive outlets such as by talking, keeping a diary, using art, using simple breathing techniques or writing a problem down and popping it in a worry jar. By simply writing down and talking through a problem we can break it into manageable steps.
Reducing screen time and increasing exercise - We can reduce screen time, increase exercise and time spent outdoors. These steps all support wellbeing and sleep, as do regular mealtimes and bedtime routines.
Therapies and teaching - Finally, by ensuring our support extends to mindfulness teaching, specialist art therapy and counselling where needed we can make sure our children’s needs are supported.
It is reassuring to know that these simple steps can make a big difference to our children. If you have any concerns about your child’s wellbeing, please don’t hesitate to speak to a member of staff.
Our Learning for Life programme supports our pupils’ well being and development. We invite you to join us for an evening to find out more about the new Relationships Sex and Health Education (RSHE). This will better equip your child with the information they need to make safe, informed and healthy decisions as they progress through their life. We hope you will join via our virtual link on Thursday 27 May at 6:30pm.