Health and Wellbeing

Rest Easy

 

I understand that many parents have been intrigued to find out more about our Rest Easy approach.

 

Mental health and wellbeing has long been a priority of the Government but particularly for the last 3 years due to the increasing pressure on the health service and inadequacies of the public health system to manage this situation. There was recently a Green paper which focused on this topic and the need to be proactive. The situation has been described as a crisis in our classrooms:

  • The growing number of children and young people experiencing poor mental health is one of the biggest challenges facing our teachers.
  • An estimated three children in every classroom has a diagnosable mental health problem1. This rises to one in four children when we include emotional distress
  • Suicide is the most common cause of death for boys aged between 5 and 19, and the second most common for girls of that age3.
  • Around one in every twelve young people deliberately self-harm4, though this may rise to almost one in three for girls aged 15.
  • Rates of depression and anxiety in teenagers have increased by 70% in the past 25 years6.
  • The number of young people calling Childline about mental health problems has risen by 36% in the last four years7.
  • The number of young people attending A&E because of a psychiatric condition more than doubled between 2010/11 and 2014/158.

 

As a consequence this has been on Ofsted’s radar for some years, indeed one of the sections for any school inspection has been personal development, behaviour and welfare. Specifically, for outstanding schools, it states: Pupils can explain accurately and confidently how to keep themselves healthy. They make informed choices about healthy eating, fitness and their emotional and mental well-being. They have an age-appropriate understanding of healthy relationships and are confident in staying safe from abuse and exploitation (Ofsted handbook April 2018). As a result, the local authority asked all schools to complete a detailed audit of our mental health provision and complete an action plan to support future developments. This was shared with all staff and the Board of Governors.

 

There is a clear expectation for school to be proactive in their approach to supporting this and as a consequence many schools have been piloting different methods alongside some more established approaches, within PSHE. All schools should have someone who is mental health first aid trained. The Department for Education (DfE) recognises that: “in order to help their pupils succeed; schools have a role to play in supporting them to be resilient and mentally healthy”. (Promoting children and young people’s emotional health and wellbeing- A whole school and college approach 2015)

 

https://youngminds.org.uk/media/1428/wise-up-prioritising-wellbeing-in-schools.pdf

 

 

As a school we have taken this responsibility very seriously. We have always tried to develop resilience within children and enable them to manage their emotions and also understand and have empathy for how others might be feeling. We have…

  • trained Mrs Johnson in mental health first aid (Government were looking to have at least one person trained (we currently have two),
  • Organised Lego clubs to support children (using the principles of Lego Therapy)
  •  Mrs Johnson has also undertaken training to become an emotional literacy support assistant (ELSA). This training will be repeated by Mrs Aird next year. This is usually a 1-1 support for children and is only undertaken with consent from parents.
  • Miss Jones has also been trained in play therapy approaches and has run a Sunshine Club which has supported groups of children. Again this support is undertaken following discussion with parents.
  • Our PSHCE incorporates a variety of approaches including Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL) and also SUMO which helps children to deal with issues as they arise. This is part of our broad and balanced curriculum.
  • Other initiatives we employ are Circle of Friends and, prior to the building works, we had a friendship bench which children would regularly use if they felt lonely at break and lunchtimes. We have encouraged children to use mood cards to help identify their emotions following a disagreement with friends. In addition, many classes regularly undertook calming down techniques to settle the children after lunch, playing relaxing music and practising breathing techniques.

 

This is not an exhaustive list of our school approach but is intended as a guide for you of parents of the good practice undertaken at Tattenhall Park Primary. We have chosen to adopt REST EASY as it is in line with our school ethos and existing school methods for supporting the mental wellbeing of pupils. We have used many of the principles as part of these other processes and we felt that they are so beneficial that they would be helpful to all children- a kind of toolbox, if you like, should the children ever need them.

 

The REST EASY method identifies different strategies to support pupils at different times should they choose to access it.

 

 

REST EASY stands for:

Things already done in school

Research which backs this up

Recognise- that you have a feeling of anxiety or unease- ride the emotion wave and know that this will soon pass

PSHE work on emotions and recognising emotions in others

'Riding the Wave' is a concept & skill that is part of a larger DBT (Dialectical Behavioural Therapy) model about recognising waves of emotions as they are experienced. It's a psychological practice of surfing waves of emotions. It is referenced in Eline Snel's "Sitting Still Like a Frog" book that is widely recognised in the field.

Emotions- understand what emotions you are feeling

e.g. sad, angry, cross, confused

Use of Mood cards (emotions cards) to identify key emotions and using a set of questions to work through this.

In 1980 Robert Plutchick identified 8 primary emotions that humans experience. The Plutchick Wheel of Emotion details 3 levels of each emotion. If we don't recognise or manage the initial emotion it will intensify to a deeper level. Emotions cards/fans are used to help the children identify their emotions. These resources are widely used in schools.

 

 

Stop- take a moment – why am I feeling this way? How are my emotions affecting others?

Our behaviour policy is firmly rooted in restorative approaches and our work in PSHCE supports this well.

To stop & pause for a moment is standard mindful practice & essential for being able to observe what is going on in the mind & body in the present moment. It is one of the main principles of mindfulness

 

Think- what can I do to help myself? How can I change what I feel or think?

We wish to build resilience in the pupils to be able to deal with more difficult times in their lives. PSHE often provides the opportunity to discuss these challenges.

Positive thinking is a regularly used in wellbeing practice & positive psychology as a tool for creating positive coping mechanisms. Thinking about others is part of emotional intelligence.

Engage

Awareness

For example doing some shape breathing. This is a technique recommended by the educational psychology service and also CAMHS to help children get into a calmer frame of mind.

Is at the heart of all established mindful practice. Having an awareness of the breath & the senses allows the individual to be fully present in the moment, on purpose, without judgement. Mindful practice is backed up by 40 years of scientific evidence. Engaging Awareness of others is part of emotional intelligence.

 

Support

Yourself

We have previously used things like Circle of Friends and Friendship bench to support each other as well as group support via Sunshine Group and also 1-1 support via ELSA for example.

We are teaching the children that they all have different qualities and to value each other.

Having an awareness of oneself & ones personality allows for self-awareness & understanding. Reflecting on the established Myers-Briggs Personality Profile. Incorporates NHS 5 steps to Mental Wellbeing. Support Yourself is also an opportunity for the children to ask for support if they need it. All existing Safeguarding procedures, standards, referrals etc. would come into play at this point. These strategies have been recommended by behaviour consultants, educational psychologists and CAMHS.

The children have been seen using these coping strategies in their SATS recently.

 

 

The approach focuses on children at the times they have identified as potentially difficult- this is break and lunch times. We have trained our midday staff to be able to support the children and just take them through the steps if they need any additional help.

The children can choose to visit the Rest Easy bench if they wish to have a bit of quiet time to relax or calm down. If they have any worries that can’t be dealt with at the time the children can choose to write the down and put them in the worry monster. These are then shared with their class teacher for them to manage. As is currently the case, any worries would be shared with you as parents so you feel able to support your child at home. As part of the process we encourage the children to identify who can help which would be friends, adults in school as well as their parents and siblings.

 

Additionally, we have set up one of our new group rooms as a calming space where the children can visit if they become overwhelmed. It is a soothing space, equipped with squishy balls and other sensory toys, a light machine which casts lovely colours on the ceiling whilst playing relaxing music and there is a forest mural, a rug and cushions.

 

The final whole school approach is to commence our afternoon teaching session with relaxing music as the children come into class. Whilst the children completes the register, the children will be encouraged to practice breathing techniques and other calming tasks which will support the transition from play and get them prepared and ready for learning.

 

The response from the children has been overwhelmingly positive as you will see from their comments below. We are very proud of the children for their positivity and support of each other:

 

 

A year 4 said, "Riding the wave is kind of like surfing an emotion."

 

A year 3 said: "My mind gets tired when I think a lot so it's good to have a rest."

 

Another year 3 said: "It is good to think about what your friend is thinking when you have an argument because sometimes you forget."   Another, on the same point, said, "Not everyone feels good all the time and we can help other people who are feeling bad."  Another said, "I would like space sometimes and friends think I’m being mean but I'm not trying to be so it's good that they would know I'm not being mean.”

 

A year 1 said, "If I feel sad I would like to sit at the tree and then playing with my friends makes me feel happy so I would rest easy then go and play with them."  Another said, “I might run around the field.” Another said "I would ask to do a word search"

A year 4 said: "I like thinking of activities that could make me feel better if I was sad because there are lots."

 

The KS1 children were looking through the emotions fans and pointing out emotions and when they feel like each. Then two of them showed the happy and excited face and said they felt like that about REST EASY and the room.

 

A year 3 said, “I have a squishy ball at home like them ones and I like that there is some in here if I need them." (About the sensory balls)

 

Talking about the sensory light, “I have one that helps me sleep it helps you be calm". Another said "We can just not talk and just watch the lights that would be nice."

 

A year 4 said, "The room is amazing I feel like lying down and resting in here all day!"

 

A year 4 said, "When we have done maths I would like to rest my brain ... its hard work!"

 

A year 4 said, "I bought my own worry monster for if I worry at home and to cuddle."  Another said, "I like writing down what is in my head." Another said "I like how it eats your worries and then they are gone"

 

A year 4 said "It would help me if I can go and be on my own when i need to without people asking me why"

 

A year one said: "I just want to sit and stare" it is really good" (talking about the dangly things on the tree).

 

Two year ones asked to rest easy saying "Can I sit with my friend because we fell out and we want to think about it so we can be okay and think about that we are best friends"

 

After rest easy after lunch the year ones said they felt relaxed and one said,  “that has made me feel like I've had a good rest."  Another said,"I liked to be quiet and lie down after being outside."

 

A year 2 said, "I use finger and shape breathing all the time when I feel angry and it stops me".

 

Most of year 4 expressed they like mindful colouring one saying, " I like things like that that makes my brain just think about that."

 

A year 5 said, “I like how comfy the room looks and that he would like stay in there all morning.”

 

Two year 5s asked that they use the mood cards to help them to sort a disagreement

 

A year 3 said they would like to bring a CD in that has relaxing music so other children can listen because it would be good in the rest easy room when being in there.

 

A year 3 said, "Wow I like all the things that are in here, there is lots of things to use." Another year 3 said, " Yes and we can all choose something different that is what makes us happy". (In response to the resources available in the room).

 

After a group of children used the resources in the room one said, "Thank you for letting me use the rest easy room I liked having somewhere to come and talk about it.” Another said, "I don't want to talk about what is making me sad but can I sit."

 

 

 

 

Our Aims

For children:

  • Experience a broad and exciting curriculum that fosters creativity, independence, a passion and enjoyment for learning that continues throughout their lives.
  • Learn to value and respect themselves and others as individuals with equal rights and responsibilities.
  • Be given a strong foundation in their ethical and spiritual life to prepare them to be active and responsible citizens.
  • Be inspired by the environment in which they live and learn and to become stewards of it.
  • Be fit and healthy in body, mind and spirit and understand how to make good choices to keep safe and healthy.
  • Believe in their own abilities to develop resilience and a determination to achieve their potential.

Tattenhall Park Primary School, Chester Road, Tattenhall, Chester, CH3 9AH

Tel: 01244 981260 | Email: admin@tattenhallpark.cheshire.sch.uk