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Coronavirus and Back to School- Wellbeing Resources for Children and Young People

Challenges Faced by Pupils and Teachers

As we begin to think about the return to school, many parents, pupils and teachers may have concerns around how they will be effected after the unprecedented changes to the daily lives of children and young people, and the ongoing impact widespread closure and reduced provision at schools has had. Young people’s experiences of the lockdown period will have been very varied. For some, it will have been a safe and perhaps enjoyable time. However, for others, it will have been very challenging or traumatic. Schools and teachers are used to supporting their pupils through the challenges that they face in life, however the current situation will amplify those situations and there has never been a more important time for children and young people to have the emotional support that they need.

Dealing with Bereavement and Loss

There is no doubt that while many people, parents, teacher and children will be looking forward to a return to some kind of routine, there will also be a lot of anxiety around these changes, plus many parents and teachers have been working from home, juggling their own families with their workload. Some teachers have volunteered to go into the school hub, and may have even lost colleagues and friends or relatives during this tough time.

Some children and young people will also be effected by loss, with relatives or friends who have died during the lockdown, due to coronavirus or other illnesses. Others will be aware of a relative or friend being unwell or hospitalised due to the virus. For other young people, they may have been dealing with difficulties at home such as changes to parents employment, perhaps resulting in a home or school move, or they may have experienced long-term isolation from important figures in their life such as grandparents and other relatives.  

Regardless of the type of loss, many will be experiencing this with a sense of grief. How children and young people respond to those feelings of loss and grief will differ widely.

Other Problems Faced By Children and Young People

Some children have faced other issues such as domestic violence, abuse or neglect, and family conflict. Many families will be effected by financial concerns, for example, loss of employment or ongoing worry about relatives who are key workers and continuing to work. Many young people may have found themselves in the position of having increased caring responsibilities for family members.  Hunger and lack of nutrition will be prevalent to many children, with some facing insecure housing, for example, those living in residential care, hostels or refuges. Teachers will be faced with varying behavioural and emotional difficulties as a response to these stressful situations. 

Changes to Everyday Schooling

Many other emotional difficulties will effect a broad range of children in the aftermath of the lockdown period. For example, by the time they return to schooling, for many pupils there is likely to be an increased fear of socialising, fear of contamination, loss of motivation and structure, fear of not sticking to the social distancing rules and getting it wrong etc. Schools and staff will be under pressure to teach under new arrangements within the national social distancing measures to limit the spread of coronavirus. Classrooms will be limited in the numbers of children and young people attending educational and childcare settings with pupils spending their time doing ‘blended learning’ which means in a school environment having face-to-face learning, alongside some home schooling. In some areas the exact arrangements are still being developed meaning a certain amount of uncertainty for all.

Resources for Teachers

In light of this evolving situation around coronavirus teachers and those in education may be looking for activities to boost pupils’ wellbeing. Living Life to the Full courses and resources, developed by Professor Chris Williams, are aimed at primary and high school age children. The Living Life to the Full approach (LLTTF™) is one of the world’s most used ways of communicating a widely recommended type of talking therapy called cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) CBT has been used for several decades, and research has led to it being one of the most recommended treatments for low mood and anxiety.

Our courses take a cognitive behavioural approach and are widely recognised as one of the most effective ways of helping develop well-being and resilience by teaching key skills that help build a growing sense of control over how you feel and react, once taught these skills can last a lifetime.. All courses have been developed with an exciting range of resources that fit with the criteria for Curriculum for Excellence for younger people.

Living Life to the Full courses  remove much of the jargon from the CBT  so that is clearly communicated. By using an accessible language and powerful, clearly communicated change tools, the content aims to help young people help themselves. We have three courses available, to suit age groups and needs.

Course and Resources for Primary School Age Children

Living Life to the Full for Children is a resource designed to be used by Teachers and Supporters for example in Schools, Charities and CAMH’S teams). The range of resources have a strong evidence based content, which has shown to increase personal learner growth/experiences and resiliency life skills.

The resources are targeted for use with children age 5-11 and are:

  • Engaging
  • Story-based – you tell the story, they learn
  • Build on how you think and work with young people
  • Gives you resources to teach- with attractive support materials
  • Includes everyday situations faced by young people at home and school
  • Use the engaging characters to focus attention
  • Posters and Feelings cards make learning about emotions fun
  • Help listeners work out why they feel as they do- and make small changes that add up
  • No jargon- yet retains the key elements needed for effective change

Course and Resources for High School Age Young People

Living Life to the Full for Young People is aimed at High School age young people and is adapted to suit the problems and everyday situations that this age group may encounter. The course is:

  • Translated into over 10 languages.
  • Award winning websites with over 25 million hits a year.
  • Strong research base, and evaluation in everyday use in Europe and North America.
  • Major national roll-outs of the courses have occurred in the UK, Ireland and Canada,
  • The young person’s course is available in different formats to suit how you work.
  • Can be delivered in classes, or online – with options for targeted work with young people facing low mood anxiety and stress.

Course and Resources for Use by Teachers and Support Workers with Young People

The third course adapted for use in school s is called ‘My Big Life.’ 

My Big Life Classes are designed to be delivered by teachers or support workers for young people aged 12-16 who are experiencing some difficulties such as disciplinary or attendance issues, academic struggles including dyslexia and more.

In just six enjoyable sessions, this course can help young people make a different to their lives. With supportive guidance at each session, young people learn how to respond when they feel low, worried or angry and will learn skills that help build resilience, confidence and ways to tackle problems.

  • Session 1: Understanding your feelings
  • Session 2: How to get a Big Life (increasing helpful activities)
  • Session 3: How to think in a Big Life way (identifying and challenging unhelpful thoughts)
  • Session 4: Overcoming problems
  • Session 5: Building inner confidence
  • Session 6: Staying strong when you feel angry

The courses come with trainer or teacher lesson plans and notes for every session. Additional resources are available for you to print that aim to aid dissemination, including: a small credit card reminder, diary sheet, as well as the  worksheets.

While many children will return to school feeling anxious, upset and worried about the future, schools play a very important role in supporting pupil wellbeing, resilience and recovery after the Coronavirus pandemic. Some students will be more affected than others for a variety of reasons, such as if they have an existing mental health conditions or additional needs which make changes in routine difficult. Whatever the circumstances,  schools aim to create a safe and supportive environment for all as their main priority, with a focus on not only teaching the curriculum but also prioritising the physical, mental and emotional wellbeing of children and young people, and families.

For more information on our courses and resources for children and young people contact orders@fiveareas.com 

The Living Life the the Full Team.

Other useful contact details for supporting pupils and families:

https://www.childline.org.uk/

https://www.nspcc.org.uk/

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/

https://www.childbereavementuk.org/young-people

https://www.carersuk.org/

https://www.kids.org.uk/

https://www.samaritans.org/?nation=scotland

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