Mental health affects all aspects of a child’s development including their cognitive abilities, their social skills as well as their emotional well-being. It is therefore important that we support children ‘to be resilient and mentally healthy’ (Department for Education, 2014: 6).
One factor that can cause a deterioration and poor mental health in a child is the impact of family relationship problems. The picture above shows the research I have undertaken about the issue.
It is important as teachers that we are aware of the signs of distress that the children show and how we can use strategies to support them through this. We should always try to encourage positive mental well-being throughout every aspect within school.
TARGET: To continue with research around children’s mental health and ensure that when in the classroom, I create a safe and stimulating environment for children.
DEPARTMENT FOR EDUCATION, 2014. Mental health and behaviour in schools. Departmental advice for school staff.
As a reward for their good behaviour and progress in their work, Class 2 at Morland Area C of E Primary School were taken for a day out tothe Westmorland County Show.
This may not have been a particularly appropriate reward for some children, however with the school being in a rural setting and many of the children from farming families, this was an ideal treat for the children – and an educational one too!
Th children visited the education tent, looked at the stalls and watched a very entertaining display by The Sheep Show (http://www.thesheepshow.co.uk/) learning about the process of wool. They also had the opportunity to get close to the animals learning about British Agriculture and the process of how the food that the children eat, reaches their plate; something that is not widely taught in schools.
For me, I benefitted from this experience as I was able to learn about the process of organising a school visit. The class teacher involved me throughout the whole process, increasing my confidence and encouraging meto arrange class visits in the future. The key aim throughout the organisation, and the visit itself, was keeping the children and adults safe throughout their experience.
Everyone (including myself) had a highly enjoyable day even with such atrocious weather and being covered in mud from head to toe!
Having lived in rural Cumbria all of my life, being in the outdoors has been the norm. Many of the lessons that I can remember from my own time in primary school were the ones that took place outside; observational drawings and science investigations to name just a couple. I personally felt the benefits of being in the outdoors, but also from my reading of this particular area in education it is clear to see that there are great benefits for children’s learning and development that can be gained from the outdoors.
During my time helping at Morland Primary School I was given the opportunity to take the nursery children for a lesson. With the weather set to be fine, I decided to take the children outside to explore the school grounds and see what they could find.
Before leaving the classroom I made it very clear to the children that even though we were staying within the school grounds it was important not to run off and I needed to be able to see them at all times. This made for effective teaching and it also made it easier to communicate with the children. Setting out these behavioural expectations allowed the smooth running of the session.
The children were excited to be going outdoors and we started by visiting a pond in the school’s Wildlife Area. A couple of weeks previous to the session, the children had visited the pond and had seen tadpoles and this was therefor a time for them to see if the tadpoles had grown into frogs – unfortunately there were none to be seen! However this was a good opportunity to discuss with the children what the tadpoles would look like now and where they may have disappeared to. Following on from this children were left to roam in the Wildlife Area freely. I encouraged them to work together and collect natural items which they thought were interesting and would make a good picture. Allowing the children to roam freely increased both their independence and confidence to discover and explore. (I was always within eyesight of all the children.) Once the children had had time to explore, we moved down onto the school field, I asked the children to find twigs and branches from the field and use them to create the first letter of their names. For some this took them no time and therefore I asked them to try and spell their whole name. We collected our final natural items and headed back to the classroom.
Once back in the classroom, the children stuck what they had found on to paper, with some creating unique pictures out of the natural resources. The children seemed to thoroughly enjoy this activity and really embraced the outdoors.
Tuesday 28th June saw a fun filled day all based on Space at Morland Area C of E Primary School.
Being a teaching assistant at the school, I expected to just be helping one of the teachers with their activities. However I was soon volunteered by one of the teachers (who knew about my science specialism) to lead one of the sessions.
The day ran as a carousel with the children split into the three houses. There were three different sessions run by the teachers as well as an hour spent at the pop up Planetarium which visited the school. Each session lasted 1 hour and the groups of children were of mixed age (5-11 years). I took this in to account and when planning the activities I ensured that all children would benefit from effective teaching.
My session was based on the phases of the moon. I started by asking the children if they had seen the moon the night before. I then asked them what shape it was and if they could describe any other shapes that they had seen the moon before. Having done this, I asked the children if they knew why the moon changed shape. They were not aware of why and so I showed them a rap that taught the children the different phases of the moon as well as how this happens. The rap reinforced my teaching and enabled me to eliminate any misconceptions that children had (the rap is available from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBc8QHSsFgE) . This was enjoyed by all children and they were then fully engaged and encouraged to take part in creating the phases of the moon using Oreos. Having never worked with some of the children before I made it clear to them my behaviour expectations – especially when using the Oreos! Children worked in mixed age and abilities to create these and once completed I then assessed that the children understood the names of the different phases of the moon by having a quick quiz and asking the children the name of the phase. I knew that this may not last the full hour with some groups and therefore had prepared for children to discuss and design a new space suit for Tim Peake. As a group we talked about what Tim would need to survive in space and then allowed children to add extras and make the suit look exciting rather than being plain white.
The children seemed to thoroughly enjoy my session and their achievements through the day were relayed to parents through the school’s Twitter Account as well as speaking to parents at the end of the day.
My final day in my first year as a trainee teacher saw a visit to Beacon Country Park with the Year 1 Science Specialists – thank goodness for a fine day!
The day taught us how to encourage learning in the outdoors and how we can utilise nature and the spaces we have outdoors to maintain children’s interest of a subject and extend their knowledge. When experiencing many of the activities we discussed how we would adapt them to suit the needs of the children making sure we are proactive and ensuring children are taught effectively. The day also incorporated the Bucket School.
In the morning, science tutors lead the following activities:
Team Building Games (Hands in a knot, finding their animal
partner, retrieving the key from the person in the middle of the circle).
Weaving using natural materials found in the surroundings.
Building a den for a teddy bear.
Creating an animal from Plasticine adding natural materials to decorate, then placing it in its habitat.
An insight to forest schools (Slide Show- placing a unique leaf in a frame and passing them round, Scent Cocktail – filling a plastic cup with natural materials and then smelling it).
In the afternoon we peer taught, leading our own activities to fellow students. Some of these activities included:
Scavenger Hunt – Finding as many different coloured natural materials.
Making a crown from natural materials.
Spelling a word using natural materials.
Finding the tree – Blindfold a person and guide them to a tree. Get them to feel it and then take them back to where they set off from. Take off the blindfold and ask them to then identify the tree they have just been at.
The day was very enjoyable and highlighted to me the vast variety of outdoor activities that children can benefit from.