With happiness and good health at the top of the list for what parents at our early learning centres want most for their children, Niño Early Learning Adventures’ Positive Education Framework is providing support to help build children’s wellbeing skills.
Whilst parents hold these hopes and aspirations, there are increasing levels of stress and mental health issues in younger children, with recent statistics revealing one in seven children aged 4-17 experiences mental health issues.
As experienced early learning professionals at Niño ELA, we believe that building the skills and mindsets that help children cope with the challenges throughout their lives is an essential part of the early year’s curriculum. Developing a strong sense of wellbeing lays the foundation for a successful start to school and improved outcomes later in life.
Partnering with Geelong Grammar School’s Institute of Positive Education, Niño ELA has implemented Positive Education, which combines the science of positive psychology with best practice teaching, encouraging and supporting education services and communities to flourish. into its curriculum, Children are taught skills that help strengthen their relationships, build positive emotions, enhance resilience, promote mindfulness and encourage a healthy lifestyle.
Following are five key ways parents can help to build their children’s wellbeing skills:
Resilience is the ability to grow through challenges and bounce back from adversity. Our educational and enhancement programs provide children with many opportunities for personal challenge, problem solving, exploration of their creative and critical-thinking skills which support children in building resilience and self-confidence.
For parents, encouraging children to identify and express their feelings in a positive way helps develop the skills required to manage them. Behind every behaviour is a feeling – helping children to identify and name the feeling allows them to develop an emotional vocabulary to talk about their feelings. Talking through any issues your child may be dealing with and encouraging them to brainstorm to find solutions will support in building resilience and self-assurance.
Beyond the natural abilities we are born with, research shows that grit is even more important for predicting success; it is the drive and attitude that lets us ‘hang in there’ and persevere when faced with obstacles.
We encourage children to not give up. Jigsaw puzzles, building block challenges and climbing frames are ways to encourage children to keep trying.
For parents, when confronted by statements like “I can’t…” and “I am not able…” remember the word YET – “you are not able to YET – but let’s keep practicing and you will get there”.
Gratitude is considered an essential part of building happiness and it has been shown to produce long lasting positivity. Cultivating gratitude helps people appreciate and notice the good things in life.
We use mealtimes to encourage open conversations with the children about the elements of their day and interactions with friends that they have enjoyed and are thankful for.
For parents, role modelling gratitude is essential – expressing gratitude through words, small gifts or reciprocal acts are all ways to teach children how to become grateful. Daily habits, such as mealtime conversations about the things we are grateful for helps children to reflect positively on their interactions and relationships. Role-modelling gratitude to your child is the most effective way of encouraging your child to cultivate an attitude of gratitude, this can be through helping someone less fortunate or complementing others through sharing the things that you appreciate about the other person.
Mindfulness helps to decrease negative emotions such as anxiety and worry, improving emotional regulation, leading to better moods. It is the practice of cultivating awareness, the aim of which is to be aware, present and focussed.
Since implementing mindful meditation sessions in our centres, our teachers have noticed an improvement in children’s concentration, focus and ability to self-regulate.
For parents, start with small elements, gradually building over time – small pauses; slowing down to create quiet spaces; appreciating nature and beauty; creating quiet and calming bedtime rituals. Allow opportunities for children to explore at their own pace, role modelling this by creating time in your own schedule free time to discover and be mindful naturally.
The connections between what we eat, physical activity and lifelong health are well known. Teaching children the skills and attitudes that underpin good food and exercise choices is essential.
We encourage children to make their own food choices, discussing their choices and selections. We feature kitchen gardens tended by the chef and the children, creating the garden to plate link, and encourage outdoor and physical activities such as yoga, taekwondo and dancing.
For parents, talk about food choices, encourage children to get involved in the meal preparation, and to live active lives – ride, cycle, walk, climb – channel your inner child and make the time to play actively with them.
In order to have the energy to care for children and families, parents need to make sure that they are taking care of their own health and wellbeing.
For parents, leading by example and role modelling an active and healthy life is essential. After all, our children want to be just like us.
Start small – 15 minutes a day. Making time to exercise with the whole family can be a great way to start. Sharing quiet mindful spaces with children can be rewarding for both parent and child.