Without positive mental health students struggle in the classroom; it is a vital key to learning at any stage, at any time. Now that most Covid-19 restrictions have been lifted, how can teachers respond to the detrimental effects on mental health the pandemic has caused?
The Royal College of Psychiatrists reported a huge rise in referrals for urgent care between 2019 and 2021, and most young people feel their school does not have enough information and support available for their mental health, according to a survey by Young Minds.
Schools are a major engine of social change and teachers play a vital role in the emotional development of children on a large scale. Let’s celebrate them and support them as they help the next generation.
So, is it back to ‘business as usual’, with teachers focusing on catching up with learning? Or will some learning have to wait? How much curriculum time can be given to opening the necessary conversations and supporting anyone struggling with getting ‘back to normal?’ And what resources can we give teachers to help address the problems they face as they corral any demoralised or unconfident students back to full-time education?
I am an ex-teacher. I know it is a pre-requisite of teaching that students feel ready to learn. But nurturing life skills and behaviour as well as teaching our subject area is a big ask. That is why I and two colleagues wrote schemes of work at KS2, 3 and 4 specially to address emotional wellbeing and the elements of self-esteem, good communication, resilience, and perseverance – all essential for success at school and in life.
A recent survey by Young Minds asked what measures would be most helpful for the mental health and wellbeing of young people on their return to school or college. 78% of respondents reported that additional pastoral support would be helpful, and 28% were doubtful that their school or college was well equipped to support students.
The Mental Health Foundation has published an online section on Covid-19 Resources, full of helpful suggestions for primary and secondary teachers. Here’s one:
What to try – if you have the option to go off-timetable or use creative lessons to explore with pupils how they are feeling about the situation and how they can support each other, you might want to do this.
We couldn’t agree more. Our schemes of work for emotional literacy are tailor-made with 20-minute lesson plans to give teachers all the support they need to support students. We believe that creating space for students to check in emotionally will underpin their successful learning and be meaningful for them and their peers.