At the Rissington School we recognise the importance of Wellbeing - both physical and mental. We are committed to supporting our pupils, staff and families to develop ways of developing wellbeing practices, managing stress and anxiety and growing a positive mindset.
We are very fortunate to have a 'happiness coach' who works with all the classes once a week, supports small groups and individuals, works with families and parents, and also does mindfulness sessions with the staff. Mrs Barnes is loved by everyone - and the feedback we have had from parents and pupils alike has been overwhelmingly positive. In particular, her work with the Year 6 this year has been evident both on residential (when pupils were heard to say 'remember what Mrs Barnes has taught you - breathe and relax' when at the top of the zip wire) and also during SATs (when pupils used their positive affirmations and relaxation techniques to manage their nerves). By working throughout the school - from Reception up - we aim to ensure these skills are embedded in all our children, so they can rise to the challenges and face any stressful situations with confidence.
"Mrs Barnes is the best... I was anxious about SATs, but now I am not even worried. I'm so excited to carry on … Thanks to Mrs Barnes I'm now a different person in my mind."
Year 6 Girl
"I just wanted to say a big thank you for the parent Happiness sessions that Mrs Barnes has been running. I have really enjoyed attending them this term and feel that both myself and my family have benefited.
I find the sessions uplifting and come away feeling really positive. I have also learned some handy tips in regards dealing with situations and using coping techniques."
I am absolutely delighted to inform you over the next term we are working on a project called the ‘Kindness Evolution’. This is a project which focusses on developing empathy, or kindness and understanding of another’s point of view, and is part of their Personal, Social, Health and Emotional Curriculum, and also part of our whole school focus on wellbeing.
So… why a focus on Empathy? Research has shown that children today are less empathetic than they were just thirty years ago. In this era of increased technology, it is a well-recognised fact that people are more focussed on themselves – The Selfie Syndrome – and more prone to think about their own needs rather than being kind, caring and genuinely connected to others. It has been shown that the dip in empathy can cause an increase in meanness to others, and even mental health issues. We want to teach our children to be more mindful of other people and more in control of themselves and their emotions, so that they are caring, happy and successful children who become kind, moral, courageous and resilient adults.
The good news is that the pupils at The Rissington School have a head start in this – behaviour at the school is good, a fact commented on just this week during a visit by our Local Authority Advisor. However, we have to recognise the fact that they are growing up to enter the ‘Selfie’ world, and want to ensure we have given the time to instil a real core value of kindness and give opportunities to practice this.
The project will follow the format of:
You will be kept informed of the activities we will be doing in school, and maybe even given some kindness homework! However, you could also support your child by carrying out some of the activities listed below:
Activities for Parents and Families as Part of ‘The Rissington Kindness Evolution’
Re-focus on Kindness – Focus on the positive aspects of the day. Set a daily routine of each person in the family answering 3 questions – ‘What have I done today that was kind?’, ‘What did someone do to me that was kind?’, ‘Who could I be kind to tomorrow/What could I do?’
People Watching – In this variation of the coffee shop favourite, try watching television with the sound off with your child. Can they ‘read’ how a person is feeling by their faces or gestures? What is causing that emotion? Can they predict how a person may react? How could their feeling changed?
Feeling Charades – Make a list of feelings, and write on cards or post-its. Each person takes a card and has to show that feeling in their face, body and actions. Can the others tell how they are feeling? How could their feeling changed?
Explain your feelings – Sometimes we assume children know how we are feeling, but often they can get this wrong. Children may assume you are cross because you are short tempered, but it may be because you are tired. So talk about your feelings – ‘I know you think I am cross because I shouted, but actually I am a bit tired’. You might be surprised how this changes your child’s reaction.
Create a family motto – a kind of code you will all work together to achieve. ‘We will be thoughtful of other’s feelings’, ‘Helping each other helps us feel good’. Spend time to talk about this together so that everyone buys into it. When something happens refer to it – ‘We all agreed we would be thoughtful of each other’s feelings, and taking your brother’s car wasn’t very thoughtful’.
Imagine how the other person feels – great for conflict resolution. If your child has done something to upset someone else, ask them how this made that person feel, and then get them to show that feeling in their face, and then how they could change this. Try it – make a sad face, it does change how you feel
Listen to each other – REALLY listen. We all know that there is a trend for children to spend more time ‘plugged in’, but children also notice when parents are on their smart phones when they are talking to them, and feel they are not listening. Have ‘un-plugged’ time for everyone – ‘No Talking, Texting, Tapping or TV’. A short period every day to communicate face to face.