Stone with Woodford Primary School

Many years ago I was the designated school nurse for Stone with Woodford Primary School. Therefore I had a long established relationship with them. The head teacher Kim and I met again recently at a training event when she explained the increase in anxiety within the school. This was seriously affecting both pupils and their parents.

Following discussions as to what might be the most helpful approach it was decided a parents evening and some classroom input would benefit both.

The parents evening ran with an opportunity for the children to watch the Pixar file Inside Out. The theme throughout the film is about having support in place to support emotional wellbeing and tells the story of a little girl. At the start of the film Ripley is doing really well and then a series of events take place which undermine her wellbeing and sense of self, she becomes angry and upset.

The film gently makes some really important points regarding the importance of talking about how you feel. A key point is that it is ok for feel sad and that listening is so very helpful. An imaginary friend shows that you do not have to have all the answers.

Fortunately it has a happy ending and the children really enjoyed it. In the meantime, a presentation with points for consideration and discussion was delivered to the parents. They were given the opportunity to ask questions and discuss concerns. The feedback was very positive and the session offered support and guidance as well as reassurance.

The classroom sessions for years five and six were very well received by the children who readily engaged with the activities planned. Extremely open and honest conversations took place with children sharing readily both positive and negative experiences.

The discussions centred on what impacts on us all as individuals regarding our responses to situations and how these in turn affect mental and emotional wellbeing. The children were given the opportunity to share what they found hard with an activity using small stress buckets. They then went on to share coping strategies and identify their own particular strengths with the introduction to happiness and positive psychology. They enjoyed some mindfulness and all stated they had learned a lot.

As a follow up, several parents reported back that their children had really found the session beneficial and felt that it had made a big difference to them; children felt that they were not alone in their feelings of anxiety and that most children worried about the same things. They also felt that the different strategies that they used for dealing with difficult issues/situations could be shared. There was an overwhelming response that these emotions were something that everyone has and therefore it was OK.