As we begin the return to school after covid-19, it’s a good time to think carefully about what can be done in the classroom to promote good mental health and wellbeing. There’s a lot to consider - including your own mental health - but there are a number of practical ways you can encourage students to look after their wellbeing. Protocol Education run regular webinars on topics involving mental health and wellbeing, including regular Mindfulness sessions, find out more and book on webinars here
Here are our top 5 practical tips to help you promote taking care of your mental health in the classroom.
1 - Make it Clear that you’re there to Listen
This might seem obvious, but it’s the best place to start when it comes to promoting good mental health. It never hurts to remind the students in your class that your door is always open for them to share any anxieties with you. Some teachers also advocate the use of worry and happiness jars. Where students can share their concerns, as well as any positives and achievements with you in a less intimidating way.
2 - Timetable Specific Social Time
Of course, students have break and lunchtimes to see their friends - but these can often be filled with clubs, running errands, or tracking down teachers. A speciflc timetabled session (or ‘brain break’) can be a great way for students to relax and exercise critical thinking in a different way. Just taking 30 minutes each week away from the curriculum to problem solve as a group or class can be agreat way to develop social skills and relax in the school environment.
3 - Organise Lunchtime Clubs
Learning new skills and taking part in outdoor or creative activities can help to give a huge boost to mental health. Providing children with a safe space to try out new skills and meet other like minded students is a great way to promote wellbeing across the school, as well as in your classroom. Remember, you don’t have to be an expert in order to run a club. Infact discovering a new hobby or learning alongside the students can be a great way to build rapport with them. You could also buddy up with another teacher to create a more social environment for you, and to share the additional planning.
4 - Normalise Talking about Mental Health
The most effective way to normalise being open about mental health is to talk about it openly. Discuss it in tutor time, lessons, or find natural opportunities in the topics you are covering in class. In order to take this a little further, the school as a whole can promote positive mental health by holding assemblies that discuss how to cope with sadness, anger, exam anxiety and more.
5 - Create a Day or Lesson Focused on Positive Mental Health
Finally, why not find time to break from the usual timetable or lesson schedule to actively promote mental health for both students and staff. You could theme activities around the NHS 5 steps to mental wellbeing. This could include connecting students with other year groups, encouraging physical activities such as yoga, learning new skills, raising money for charity, and helping them to focus on the moment through meditation and mindfulness.