Our Whole School Approach
Our Primary School Emotional Literacy Programme is not selective nor is it focussed on particular children who may already be struggling with their mental and emotional wellbeing. Instead, we embrace a whole school approach that starts with an introductory workshop to all school staff – support and admin as well as teaching and classroom-based staff- so that the same approach and language are used throughout the school. This consistency of approach helps to create a secure framework for children and serves to fully embed the learning. We also have stickers and other learning aids that can be used to help further reinforce the learning within school. In addition, we offer a workshop to parents outlining the basis for the work we do and offering guidance and suggestions around how they can continue to reinforce the work being done in school, in the home.
Given that schools are dynamic organisations in which pupils and staff are constantly changing, a core focus of our approach is embedded in the value of relationship. We do this in three ways:
- firstly, on initial engagement with the charity, each school is given a unique PIN which allows them to access the tools and workshops from the website at any time.
- secondly, once we have introduced our Emotional Literacy Programme into school, we continue to offer ongoing support by allocating each school a School Relationship Manager who is responsible for ensuring that their school is kept up to date with any changes and developments within the charity and informed of any additional workshops or training programmes.
- finally, in order to ensure that each child benefits from the complete Making Me journey, the School Relationship Manager will also arrange for the Shield of Resilience workshop to be delivered to school years 3 and 4 every two years, and, where requested, pupils in years 5 and 6 are similarly offered the workshop again on a two year rolling programme.
The Making Me Emotional Literacy Programme focuses on equipping schools with the resources to help children thrive.
What underpins our Programme is the concept that ‘knowledge is power’. Therefore, our workshops provide a platform of learning whereby children can build resilience, understand and communicate their emotions, embrace their mental and emotional wellbeing and, over time, make informed choices about the person they want to become.
By embracing this pro-active approach to understanding emotions and developing positive strategies to support mental wellbeing, children are better able to access learning and thereby prevent the limitation of future opportunities. Fostering a ‘by me’ rather than a ‘to me’ or ‘at me’ mentality, also allows children to take ownership for their mental and emotional wellbeing, which in turn helps to prevent the development of long-term mental health difficulties.
The Making Me Emotional Literacy Programme starts with the Feelings Flower. Each class has a set of A4 flower pictures – the Feelings Flowers – which represent one of five different feelings. Every morning, each child places their picture caterpillar on whichever Feeling Flower best represents how they are feeling. The Feelings Flowers are an emotional barometer which highlight to the class teacher the emotional wellbeing of each child in the class and helps to promote a positive, nurturing relationship between the child and their teacher.
At the same time that schools are introducing the Feelings Flowers, KIPSY the Caterpillar is introduced to the children through a weekly story. The different versions of the storybook are written to reflect the different levels of understanding, with versions available from Nursery through to Year 4. The stories introduce a range of different feelings and, through them, the children are encouraged to discuss their own experience of each feeling and to reflect on the value and practise of being calm through a short mindfulness exercise.
Shield of Resilience:
The final stage of the Making Me journey is the Shield of Resilience workshop which is delivered to all children in years 3 and above by a member of the Making Me workshop team. In this upbeat and fun workshop, children are encouraged to acknowledge their strengths and weaknesses and to recognise that it is OK to be themselves. They learn the value of practising resilience – letting things that bother us ‘bounce off’ and ‘keeping going’ when we find things tricky. Schools are encouraged to build on these skills by noticing children who show resilience throughout the school day and awarding resilience certificates or stickers as appropriate.