This week is Children’s Mental Health Week (1-7 February), set up by one of our partners, Place2Be, to shine a spotlight on children and young people’s mental health. This year the theme is ‘express yourself’.
There is nothing more important to childhood development than self-expression. It is important that children manage to process their emotions at an earlier age to help them understand that their feelings are relevant and normal.
Some children that do not grow up in an environment of respect, love, and compassion often find difficulty opening up to others as they grow up and often experience many different mental and emotional pitfalls.
This year we are focusing on how we can help children to explore the different creative ways that we can share our feelings, thoughts or ideas. This could be through art, music, writing and poetry, dance and drama, photography and film, and doing activities that make you feel good. We are going to re- run our Lockdown photography Competition, this time on the theme of being active – look out for more details on this!
It’s important to remember that being able to express yourself is not about being the best at something or putting on a performance for others. It is about finding a way to show who you are, and how you see the world, that can help you feel good about yourself.
The education system is well-placed to support young people to become healthy adults, both physically and mentally, but as parents, carers and educators, if we make talking about feelings a normal part of discussion, children will feel more comfortable and secure in discussing their emotions and mental health overall. We do this in schools in many ways but one way is in PSHE/RSHE and we have an RSHE Hub as part of our Teaching School providing CPD to schools. Our free RSHE Hub provides a comprehensive suite of training materials and resources for both primary and secondary school teachers covering the 12 mandatory areas of the RHE/RSHE curriculum. Topics in our training include Emotions, Mental Health and Wellbeing, Changing Bodies, and Personal Health. Teachers also have the opportunity to work with our Specialist Leaders of Education to further support their knowledge and share good practice. We have lots of great materials from partners including We do Wellbeing, Stonewall, Brook and Tough Cookies. You can still gain access to this free training programme at http://allianceforlearning.co.uk/?s=PSHE+Hub
So how can we help children and young people – express themselves?
- Artist Activities
One of the best ways for children to express themselves is through painting, drawing, colouring and writing. Allowing children to paint, draw or write with freedom opens their mind and is incredibly important in the development of communication skills, emotional skills, and psychological awareness. Many psychologists and therapists use these methods to gather information about a child and their thoughts/feelings.
- Physical Activities
Physical activity and moving more is another great way to help children express themselves. Allowing children to play whether through sports or other recreational pursuits, is a great way to help teach cooperation, relationship skills, and respect for others. To find out about how you could have a truly whole school approach to this and please visit the ‘Well School’ website. There are also some great ideas in our RHE/RSHE Hub in the Physical Health and Fitness module that has been created by Youth Sport Trust and materials from Sport England.
- Performance Activities
Performances such as singing, dancing, music and even producing a vlog can help children to express their thoughts and ideas.
These are just some ideas on how we can help children to express themselves, for more FREE resources for schools, parents and community groups please visit the Place2Be website. Take a look and help someone to ‘express themselves’ today.
In support of this week the Alliance for Learning are offering 10% off mental health and wellbeing courses when booked during Children’s Mental Health Week. Please use the discount code ‘CMHW10%’ when booking one of our courses online via our website.
On 3rd February, ‘What is Now and Beyond on Inside Out Day?’ are also hosting their UK’s first ever mental health and wellbeing festival for schools, during Children’s Mental Health Week. Click here to find out how you can get involved