Transcript from the video...
What do we mean by mental wellbeing?
So, if we are going to feel mentally well, we really need to feel totally well, and this is made up of:
- Emotional wellbeing – to be happy and motivated despite the stresses and strains of everyday life
- Social wellbeing – building and maintaining healthy relationships and being respectful of the environment
- Physical wellbeing – physically fit, healthy, and strong with a zest for life!
In this chapter, we will explore Physical Wellbeing in more depth and show you some great ideas you can use in your classroom straight away!
You’ll have seen numerous times in your classroom the impact that being physically active has on a child.
Not only does it have the obvious benefits from a physical health perspective (strengthens muscles and bones, prevents excessive weight gain, and helps reduce the risk of conditions such as cancer and diabetes), but the mental effects of physical movement are huge.
With exercise comes an increase in confidence, better concentration, and generally happier children.
A recent study within primary schools by the BBC and Premier League initiative, Super Movers, found exercise to increase brain speed, the ability to process information, and to apply it to tasks by almost 20%. The study also found that all the children who undertook some form of exercise showed a significantly improved mood straight afterwards.
In physical wellness, we will explore:
- Using activity to improve focus
- The role of food in improving wellness
- The role of sleep to improve wellness
Using activity to improve focus
So, what can you introduce into your day if your children need a little more focus?
There are lots of activities you can do together to get your children moving and motivated, and which can be incorporated into every lesson – no matter what the subject.
We’ve selected a handful of our own favourites which we hope you, and your children, get a lot of joy from.
Shake it out!
A short blast (even just two minutes) of physical exertion at any time of the day can do wonders for a child’s energy levels, focus and motivation. Why not start the day with a quick workout to get everyone in the mood for a morning of learning?
Ask your children to choose their favourite piece of music (make sure it’s high energy!), and get them doing a couple of minutes of simple exercises they can do in front of their desks – star jumps, hops, or burpees.
Perhaps do the same pre-afternoon lessons to get everyone invigorated and ready to go after the post-lunch slump!
The ‘Choose Between’ Game
The next step is to start adding movement into sedentary lessons - an easy concept to start with is “choose between” which can be introduced in ANY lesson.
It involves your children giving an answer to a question through movement rather than speech.
Firstly, think of two physical actions – for example ‘A Dab’ and ‘A Star Jump’ (these actions can be changed every time you play the game – perhaps ask each of your children to nominate their own favourite action and compile a collaborative list).
Then, ask the class a question that has two possible answers (such as higher or lower, true or false, hotter or colder) – and they have to answer by either ‘dabbing’ or ‘star jumping’.
For older children, you can increase the number of potential responses to a question and add in more movements.
The role of food to improve wellness
Good fuel is essential for growth, energy, and development; so inspiring good food choices as early as possible in a child’s life can only be a good thing.
Food group games
What you may need: Flashcards I sticky tape I Fun!
This simple activity uses flashcards featuring different foods and a healthy food plate worksheet for each child.
For younger children (aged 5 - 7 years) you could use flashcards with hints and clues about the food group they belong to.
Stick the flashcards all over the classroom using various heights and hard to reach places. They should not be hidden, but instead make sure the children do plenty of bending, stretching and crawling to find them.
Make sure the flashcards are placed randomly. Children should work together in small groups searching for pictures of the different food groups and writing them in the correct section of your Eat Well Plate.
The role of sleep to improve wellness
A good sleep routine is key to having a happy, productive, fun day at school.
Deeper sleep improves the ability to cope with stress, plus quality sleep can help to boost the immune system too.
Being more active throughout the day means that children are physically more tired enabling better-quality sleep.
Being more active also reduces stress enabling better quality sleep.
Encourage the same routine each night, omitting caffeine and technology devices at least 2 hours before they intend to sleep.
Embolden children to make better choices by setting up a sleep experiment for one week. Encourage children to make tweaks to their bedtime routine, recording the impact these changes have made in relation to their focus at school, energy levels and mood.
Use our group sleep experiment to help children understand their sleep pattern and how a few small changes could help them get better quality sleep. This type of activity helps children to understand the benefits of better sleep first-hand, which in theory should help them to make better choices before bedtime.
A final thought from Imogen...
After reading this report, I hope you are thinking “I can do this!”
You may feel less worried about how to tackle the health and mental wellbeing of your children in a world where we are all having to adapt after Covid-19.
If you’re still reading, I know you’ll pull out all the stops to create a brighter, happier, healthier classroom to help your children overcome anxiety, manage their mood and negative feelings and achieve their amazing potential.
YOUR mental health is just as important, so make sure you take some time to think about YOU! And join your children on their healthy journey by getting stuck into some of the activities in the classroom yourself too!
This document is just one chapter which covers physical wellbeing – you’ll find two more chapters including social wellbeing and emotional wellbeing.
Drop me an email if you’d like these other chapters sent over.
Let me know if this report was useful, or if there are any other activities of your own that you would like me to share with my network of like-minded teachers – it’s always great to inspire each other!
You can find me at firstname.lastname@example.org.