Your Career• 3 Min read

15th July 2021

How To Have A Mentally Healthy Classroom

We often talk about the importance of great mental health in teachers. Supporting positive mental health in the classroom is just as important – children and young people can struggle in school for many reasons. Concerns over mental health in children and young people have been mounting since before the pandemic, but the last year has seen many more under 18’s seeking mental health support, struggling with isolation or anxiety. Although there is no single answer, there are some simple ways to create a positive, inspiring learning environment that will benefit pupils at all age groups and academic levels.

Encourage Talking

Talking to someone is often the turning point for many people struggling with anxiety or other mental health issues. For young people, it can be hard to make the first move, for fear of ridicule, being seen as attention-seeking, or a myriad of other reasons. They may not wish to draw attention to their feelings, or they may not yet have the vocabulary to share the full extent of how they feel. Encourage talking about mental health between your class and make feelings part of your everyday language. This will help to make it easier for pupils to discuss their deeper concerns with you as a trusted adult if they do arise.

CReate A Culture Of Positivity

Every child wants to succeed. Those that are struggling need and require praise just as much as those that excel. Ensuring your classroom in an environment where pupils aren’t afraid to make mistakes, or get an answer wrong will create a culture of mutual support and acceptance. Having appropriate reward and negative behaviour control systems will also make sure pupils are well aware of their boundaries, find ideas for classroom behaviour management on Pinterest.

Try A Mood Register

For younger children, the opportunity to pin down, verbalise and share their feelings and have them taken into consideration is a great step towards positive mental health. We’ve seen teachers on Pinterest using a variety of fun ‘Mood Trackers’ We like the idea of asking each child to answer their name with a number from one to ten, indicating how happy they are feeling that day but there are lots of great visual mood tracker ideas on Pinterest

Nature & Wellbeing

Learning outside is beneficial for all age groups. We recently wrote about all the reasons why teachers should consider planning lessons in and around the great outdoors. For older children, the freedom offered by leaving the classroom can help ideas flow, creativity flourish and improve their physical fitness. Bringing the outside into the classroom is another great way of using nature to boost wellbeing. Pupils of all ages love observing natural growth cycles and plants turn dull classrooms into vibrant jungles. They improve air quality too – find a great list of plants for the classroom here!

Be A Positive Role Model

Your role as a teacher isn’t just to teach the curriculum. Teachers are role models for behaviour just as much as any other adult of authority. Creating a mentally healthy classroom means fostering a sense of achievement and excitement about learning that your pupils can pick up on and be inspired by. Use positive language, move on quickly from failures and embarrassment and allow your classroom to be a place of safety.

Meditation In Classrooms

Meditation in schools has risen in popularity and continues to be championed by academics and education professionals as a way of offering pupils an introduction to positive mindfulness practices. In one recent study by Stanford, children were found to have gained an extra 74 minutes of sleep per night after the introduction of yoga and mindfulness practice as part of their school day. It’s a challenge to carve out the time and concentration required but the benefits are real – even for children with very low attention spans, the chance to reflect and relax has a calming effect. Described by The Guardian as a brilliant free resource, this collection of guided meditation, suggestions for introducing meditation to various age groups and information on research and studies into the benefits can be found at Meditationinschools.org.

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