Teachers at Swiss Valley Primary are launching an innovative gardening project. According to the Llanelli Star, the school’s pupils were yesterday selling seeds and seedlings at the town’s Indoor Market. This activity mirrors a school garden in Canberra, Australia, where the garden and canteen enjoy a cyclical system.
About 5% of children will have experienced the death of a parent by the time they are 16, while 92% will lose someone important to them. At any one time, around 70% of schools have a bereaved pupil in their care, according to Child Bereavement UK. When the worst happens, teachers provide an invaluable source of support, guidance and care for their pupils. Just being there, ready to listen and support your pupils in times of tragedy is vital. Children find it distressing to see their parents upset and they need teachers, classroom assistants and mentors to be strong and provide reassurance through this difficult period in their lives.
Children in school grow emotionally, as well as physically and intellectually. A child’s ability to understand his or her own individual emotional growth is formally known as Social Emotional Learning (SEL). The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) defines this competency as “the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.”
After enrolling on a mindfulness course, I embarked upon a personal journey into mindfulness and its benefits. It is something I felt so passionately about that I decided to bring mindfulness into the classroom. There are many definitions of mindfulness out there, but the one I choose to share with the children is “Mindfulness is paying attention to your life, here and now with kindness and curiosity” (www.mindfulnessfoundation.org).
I think most people who work as teachers would agree with the importance of having high expectations of your pupils. And similarly, how important it is to model these expectations, and strive to do so, most of the time. I'm sure that again, for most teachers, it comes naturally to model good behaviours; positive attitudes and respect. After all, why should we expect this from our students if we ourselves are lacking in traits that are so fundamental to healthy human interactions?
In order to get the most out of a pupil’s mind, they need to be put into a productive environment. Sam Flatman, sales & marketing director at Pentagon, gives his reasons why pupils need to get outside in order to properly develop their minds.
Our kids need more than a concrete jungle - they need a colourful space for their rough and tumble, and to be immersed in the natural environment. Studies show this helps their brain develop just as much as it helps their body. While we can be reluctant to take children out of the classroom – especially as places in those top secondary schools and colleges become increasingly competitive – through innovation and design, playgrounds are being transformed into important learning environments.
I have recently returned from Junior School Leidschenveen, the British school in the Netherlands. It is an international school with a huge diversity of children from all over the world, and has an incredibly creative ethos. Myself and my colleague Laura Brown have had the pleasure of running 3 one week long creative projects over the last 18 months. The most recent demonstrated a core belief of mine: Real learning needs to engage and motivate - it needs to be experiential and immersive. It needs to matter to the learner - and to the teacher.