Wellbeing Blog – Pre Prep Wellbeing Overview
Before the pandemic, the value of our smiles was somewhat under-appreciated and after coming out from hiding for two years the Pre Prep has never been so bright with smiley faces and buzzing children. Research has shown that the simple act of smiling can elevate your mood and the mood of those around you. Now we can see everybody’s smile, and by playing the game ‘Pass The Smile’ we are in an even better position to build, support and develop our pupils’ wellbeing. We are determined to ensure that our Wellbeing Curriculum enables the children to develop the life-long skills that they need to flourish in, and beyond school.
Based on the MCM Model for Whole School Wellbeing, our Wellbeing curriculum encompasses the interconnected dimensions of ‘spirit’ ‘mind’ ‘body’ and ‘community,’ and also draws upon concepts from both Positive Psychology and the British PSHE program of study. The following is an outline of how these areas are integrated into the Pre Prep.
A new area of wellbeing that we have started in Pre Prep this year is ‘journaling’, to enable pupils to document their thoughts and feelings in a non-judgmental form and a space for them to get to know themselves better. Journaling has a range of positive benefits from developing written and communication skills to improving emotional awareness. Emotional awareness is the ability to understand your own and others feelings and knowing how to manage and accept feelings in a positive way.
Children with higher emotional intelligence are better able to pay attention, are more engaged in school, have more positive relationships, and are more empathic.
(Raver, Garner, & Smith-Donald 2007; Eggum et al. 2011)
When journaling, the children are encouraged to express their feelings and emotions either by drawing, writing or mark making. Written prompts enable the children to reflect on different aspects of their day and explore their thoughts on a range of topics. Regular journaling can generate a feeling of meaning and purpose. Already, the children have become very proud and fond of their journals. Here is a snapshot of what the children have been using their journals for so far.
In Early Years we link our Wellbeing Journal to our topic. At the start of the term, our focus story was ‘The Colour Monster’ and the children were able to choose the monster they liked and discussed why they chose the specific monster. At the moment we scribe for the children and if they are able to, they trace the words. The children love working in their journals and it is a great way of developing their emotional understanding.
In Year 2 and 3, the pupils have enjoyed personalising their journals and began by identifying what they know about themselves. Within their journals they can track their levels of kindness, discover ways to manage their feelings and fill up a cup of proudness. The children have access to their journals to write reflections, which are particularly helpful after a disagreement with a friend, to help process and rationalise their emotions. The children are always keen to write or draw in their journals and they are beginning to use them to think about the day ahead by answering questions such as, ‘Today I am looking forward to…’ or ‘Something I want to do today is…’
The aim of the Wellbeing lessons will be to develop children’s confidence to ‘be themselves’ and appreciate their individuality. The children will be using their journals to document and record their strengths, achievements and positive qualities.
The theme running through these lessons will be ‘positive thinking’ and a focus on the positive feelings associated with being thankful, grateful and mindful will be explored. Building on and expanding their emotional vocabulary will help the children to recognise and talk about their feelings more readily and they will learn about how to manage and accept all feelings, big and small. Walking outside, listening to music and breathing exercises are amongst some of the activities the children will explore to try out different ways they can help themselves to feel calm and develop self-control.
Each classroom displays a feelings chart that the children actively manage to express how they are feeling. The teachers are able to ‘check in’ with pupils and give the children an opportunity to talk about how they are feeling. The children can see very clearly that feelings and emotions change throughout the day.
In Wellbeing lessons children will be exploring choices that they can make about looking after their bodies, including sleep, food choices and cleanliness. Through interactive participation the children will learn about facts in these areas and have opportunities to engage in activities that promote healthy choices, such as visits to Barton Farm, logging sleep diaries, creating a superhero lunch and making smoothies to share fun ways into keeping our bodies well.
Everyone, including young children, can have worries that if left for too long can fester into something much bigger. Through role play, modelling language and building emotional awareness the children will learn about how to respond if they feel unsafe or unhappy in response to life experiences, giving children power to be responsible and manage their own safety.
In this digital age it is important to monitor our children’s ‘digital wellbeing.’ Very young children are exposed to screens that can provide both positive and negative experiences and it is important that pupils are taught how to use the internet in a safe and responsible way. Encouraging screen free days and offline ‘gaming’ activities,’ ‘true or false’ quizzes and ‘password police’ games will be explored to teach children about the dangers and benefits of the internet.
Relationships, teamwork and togetherness are emphasised and the positive impact that this can achieve. The children will learn about successful teamwork skills such as being considerate to others, listening well and being responsible. Along with everyday responsibilities such as tidying away resources, packing school bags and taking on a class job, Forest School sessions too foster teamwork, collaboration and social skills needed to be a great team player. Furthermore, House events always get the children very excited, they already have a sense of pride over the House that they represent.
To further support the ‘community’ dimension, Well Being lessons will focus on relationships we have with special people, including friends and family members. You might receive a token of appreciation from your child as they learn about the importance of cooperation and how to show the special people in their lives that they care. They will learn about how to build healthy and positive relationships as well as knowing what to do during a fallout. The children learn about the importance of being kind and think about the positive impact of doing this, which is emphasised through Kindness challenges, trackers and ‘people paper chains’, embedding hands on practical activities to support their learning.
Mrs. K Brown | Pre-Prep Form Tutor, Head of Pre-Prep Wellbeing