As autumn term approaches, classrooms are beginning to look very different to how they did a year ago.
With DfE guidance stating all children are expected to return to class in line with shielding ending on 1 August, many children are now experiencing anxiety and worries beyond the simple new class, new teacher usual concerns.
In line with government guidelines, schools are also advised to provide support for pupils who feel anxious about returning to school.
A recent NSPCC news story said teachers could refer children to Childline for additional support, but in the classroom, many teachers are wondering what changes they can make to implement real difference.
Hope Education has issued some ideas for teachers to implement in their classrooms which allow for successful implementation of social distancing but champion mental health and openness of dialogue between teachers and pupils.
A great way to start your week, is to ask children to check in with themselves and decide how they feel. How I Feel Wheels (£11.99) are a great way to get children talking about their state of mind.
Children simply select one of the emotions displayed on the brightly coloured wheel and teachers can log this or use it to spark conversation. It is also a wonderful tool for helping children feel valued and recognised.
Children may feel anxious about seeing friends they’ve not seen for a long time, joining a new class or in some cases, joining a new school.
Making friends in the current climate can seem daunting and giving children set topics or questions to discuss can really help build relationships and break the ice.
About Me Cubes (£6.99) give children a set of questions to work from and can either be handled by teacher or wiped clean between uses in pairs of children to use across different year groups and classes.
No matter how well prepared both you and your new intake are for the ‘new normal’, there will be teething problems. Make coping techniques for stressful and worrying situations something you discuss as a class on a regular basis to help children be better emotionally equipped for the tougher moments.
Calming Coins (£19.99) are a bag of washable plastic coins with different calming techniques printed on and can be used by teacher or groups of children and can be used to promote positive conversations around coping techniques and ultimately lead to a more harmonious, happier classroom.
Some children may be too shy to discuss their anxiety and normalising it with storytime is a brilliant way to help more reluctant children open up.
Stories aimed at helping children examine their feelings in a safe and secure environment can bring real value to the learning experience and stories like The Panicosaurus (£12.99) can be used across all age groups as a gateway to being more in tune with their feelings and improve coping strategies.
Ultimately, there is no one size fits all approach to promoting great mental wellbeing but utilising these ideas can help you develop not only your own classroom but your entire school’s approach to mental health.
Hope Education focuses primarily on Early Years, KS1 and KS2 supplies for the educator, covering all aspects of the national curriculum. This encompasses instrumental materials, educational games and toys, art and craft supplies, furniture, indoor and outdoor equipment. Find out more at hope-education.co.uk.