Parents have spent a huge part of the year home schooling their little ones, which has enabled them to closely monitor their child’s mood and the impacts of being away from the classroom and friends.
If you can relate, you aren’t alone. Smiling Mind’s State of Mind 2021 Report found 41 per cent of parents believe the pandemic has had a negative impact on the mental wellbeing of their children. Additionally, one in two parents found it difficult to find resources about mental health.
Providing a supportive environment for our children when returning to the classroom is crucial, and Smiling Mind CEO and Clinical Psychologist, Dr Addie Wootten, says that proactively engaging children in developing skills that support mental wellbeing is key in nurturing children’s mental health from a young age.
“School environments are integral in shaping child development, and not just from a numeracy and literacy standpoint but emotionally too. Building and fostering resilience, social and emotional skills in children is crucial to improving their overall wellbeing,” says Dr Wootten.
Dr Wootten also notes that parents are the biggest influence in their child’s lives, with teachers playing a crucial supporting role in their growth and development.
“Parents should speak with their child’s school wellbeing representative, classroom teacher or program administrator to see what approaches are being taken to support the mental health of students while in classrooms, and how best to support this at home too,” Dr Wootten adds.
“A good place to start might be incorporating school-based social and emotional learning programs that will help bolster a holistic approach to learning and development for your child. These could be anything from daily meditation sessions or dedicated time periods throughout the week for explicit learning and mindfulness activities.”
Smiling Mind has made the initial outreach and implementation process for parents and teachers easier with the development of the Smiling Mind Spaces Toolkit. Created in partnership with Dulux, it’s an easy to digest guidebook for educators to help implement mindfulness spaces (and practices) in schools.
Dulux Colour & Communications Manager, Andrea Lucena-Orr, says Dulux is thrilled to partner with Smiling Mind to provide schools with the expertise on how to use colour to build designated areas for mindfulness practices.
“The partnership with Smiling Mind is an opportunity for parents and schools to have open conversations on mindfulness as a whole as well as educate on how powerful colour can be in the school environment,” says Andrea.
“Building a mindfulness space can be an activity everyone can participate in. The Toolkit also has mural templates for children to decorate to encourage student participation and allow children to learn about mindfulness practices.
“The colours for each of the palettes are outlined and detailed in depth to help students and teachers understand the benefits of using colour to demarcate spaces, as well as what colours will work best and why.”
Schools around the nation are busily consulting with their own communities – parents, students, wellbeing coordinators and staff – to ensure they are implementing mindfulness spaces that will see the best results for their students.
St Leonard’s Primary School, located on the Bellarine Peninsula (VIC), has completed its mindfulness space, collaborating with local artists and the wider community to ensure it’s developing an environment where students, now and future, can enhance their language and social interaction skills.
As you read the Toolkit, you might find areas where you think your child can learn from a specific palette. Within each theme of the Toolkit, you’ll also find practical suggestions arming you with ideas to suggest to your school:
- Smiling Mind meditations and activities for students and educators
- Where you could create a Smiling Mind Space at your school
- In-school activities and informal mindfulness practices for each space
- A unique paint colour palette, inspired by Dulux, and how to use the palette, focussing on five key areas: Resilience, Awareness, Senses, Gratitude and A curious Mind.
You can access the Toolkit here: www.smilingmind.com.au/dulux
For more information about the partnership, visit www.dulux.com.au/products/washandwear/smiling-mind-spaces