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Supporting wellbeing during lockdown

With all children and staff back at school this week, we wanted to take a look back at some of the brilliant initiatives the schools put in place to support wellbeing during lockdown.

Over the past year, everyone has had to adapt very quickly to a different way of living and learning.The pandemic has brought with it many challenges and the education sector has had to implement a new way of teaching to help many children learn the curriculum remotely.

A large focus of the schools within Aspire Academies Trust, has been to introduce initiatives to support the children's wellbeing within their remote learning offering.

Each school spent a lot of time developing their remote learning plans, to ensure they were able to offer a wide range of educational resources and wellbeing support.

The schools were extremely creative in their thinking and approach to wellbeing during lockdown and shared ideas collaboratively across the Trust. Each school implemented initiatives that they felt worked best for their parents and children. With feedback from staff, parents and children, those ideas were continually developed to help achieve the best possible results.

With the knowledge and expertise of Mrs McConnon, Inclusion Support Worker and Thrive Practitioner, Knutsford Primary Academy introduced a weekly wellbeing calendar of activities for children and parents to try out each day. Activities ranged from mindfulness exercises and dancing, to building a reading tent and creating their own board game.

The Grove Academy implemented 'Let's Play Wednesdays'. This focused on Early Years children and was all about encouraging them to learn through play, in a discrete and fun way. A lot of the activities were suitable for the outdoors and many introduced them to mindfulness, for example children's Yoga. 

Children at Hammond Academy have been enjoying 'Screen Free Wednesdays'. As part of their remote learning offering during lockdown, teachers provided a grid of activity options for the children to choose from. The activities were themed around health, art, reading and creative writing. This gave the children the opportunity to put down their screens and work together with their siblings or parents.

Broadfield Academy took a similar approach and focused on reducing screen time for both their children and staff. The teachers at the school worked together to create a weekly 'Non Screen Time Menu'. This helped them continue their teaching of the curriculum, but away from the screen. The menus were designed to encourage children's creativity and introduce some regular movement to their day. Screen free activities were completed daily and the children chose from a variety of menu options. With the weather brightening up recently, the school also encouraged lots of outdoor learning.

To support the wellbeing of their children, Bedmond Academy introduced a weekly wellbeing grid. Grid activities included how to make a worry jar, examples of acts of kindness to strangers and wellbeing toolkits to help with positive mental health. They also touched upon zones of regulation through the colour monster. 

Bovingdon Academy introduced a 'Wellbeing Wednesday's' grid, with the aim of supporting both their staff and children with their wellbeing. The Wednesday afternoon activities supported positive mental health and were not marked, encouraging time away from the screen for both the teachers and children. The activities were split into EYFS and KS1 & KS2 and the children could choose from different themes; Connect, Be Active, Give, Take Notice and Keep Learning. The activities were creative and helped the children to express themselves, from building a nature inspired compliment tree to drawing a picture of themselves depicting how they were feeling.

Teachers across all schools worked hard to incorporate their brilliant on-site teaching styles, into remote activities that helped to encourage a positive mindset. Regular activities included live story time, guided meditation, positive selk-talk sessions, mindfulness colouring in and outdoor learning. 

All schools have also been proactive when working with families that need extra support, helping to put in place strategies to assist with behaviour and learning at home.