Mental well-being needs to be a top priority for our primary school children as they settle back into their education. Many children have been desperate to get back to school and their well-being has been affected by not being able to see their friends and not having the face to face contact they’ve missed with their amazing teachers. Primary schools have always played such an important role in social development and setting children up with a myriad of skills necessary for life in the big, wide world. Looking after our mental well-being is a skill everyone should be working on from a young age – if a person has a healthy mind, they are more likely to do well in their academic studies too. Mentalhealth.org.uk tells us that 10% of children have a diagnosable mental health problem so the earlier we start caring for ourselves the better.
Primary schools have a huge challenge when it comes to helping children settle back in and cope with the change, as children have such differing needs. Children will need to be given plenty of chance to talk and play with their peers and to chat to adults too. Exercise is important for mental well-being and many children have not been getting as much exercise as usual in recent months, so chance to run, climb, race and any opportunities for fun PE are important and now that Spring is coming, can hopefully be done out in the fresh air. Yoga and gentle meditation exercises are a great way to teach children to look after their mind and body and just slow down and take stock. There are some fantastic ideas on blissfulkids.com, my favourite is definitely belly breathing with teddy bears!
At Lion Learners, one of our favourite ways to look after our well-being is by spending time in the great outdoors, in nature and with our own wonderful animals too of course. Children love to connect with nature and if nature becomes part of their lives they will always find solace in it. If your school is lucky enough to have a good outdoor space, or even a forest school, now is a great time to utilise it as much as possible – academic subjects can be brought outside too, nature has so much to teach us about everything. Take a look at this Learning Outside the Classroom blog for nine different ways to take your maths lessons outside.
The more time children spend in nature, the more they will experience and learn about the plants and animals who share their space and the more chance we have of creating budding conservationists!
Connected to our love of nature is our love of animals. Most children love animals and they have been proven to have a very positive effect on our mental well-being. Just sitting with and stroking an animal can have a calming effect on children and adults alike. The experience actually releases oxytocin which can even lower our blood pressure! Some of our animals, such as the snake or some of our big bugs, can give children a feeling of achievement, when they conquer their fears and manage to hold or touch the animal they are often surprised by how easy they find it and can be proud of themselves.
We love to visit schools with the Lion Learners animals. We often work with a whole class at a time, but we’re happy to cater to your needs. Right now, perhaps some schools would prefer for us to work with small groups of children. Allowing just several children at a time to get up close to our animals can be a more calming experience for the children and it’s a nice opportunity to give them time to chat to us, ask questions and share their own knowledge, whilst they have a cuddle with some of our furry friends and get up close and personal with some of our creepier creatures. It’s fun, relaxing AND educational. Just what the doctor ordered!
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