Emotional wellbeing crucial to safe return to the classroom
SEK International School Dublin shares important tips on preparing your child to return to school
At SEK International School, we believe that the emotional wellbeing of students and teachers is the true measure of a healthy school and key to developing a school environment where teaching and learning can take place effectively.
As the planning continues on how best to reopen schools, both the government and individual schools are busy drafting plans that ensure the health and safety of everyone in the community with discussions about social distancing and hygiene a top priority. However, we will fail our students if we do not place equal priority on the mental health and wellbeing of teachers and students, as we seek to understand the full impact of Covid-19.
Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic has affected everyone in different ways: some students or staff members may have been ill or lost friends or relatives; others may have suffered isolation during the shutdown, while others may have become anxious and fearful. Both students and staff should be given the opportunity to talk about their experience, reflect on what they have learned from it and how it has changed them. Schools should use their reopening as an opportunity to evaluate how well student and staff wellbeing is prioritised in the school environment and how well their students are being equipped for moments of stress and uncertainty in their lives.
At SEK International School, we believe that the emotional wellbeing of students and teachers is the true measure of a healthy school and key to developing a school environment where teaching and learning can take place effectively. Emotional wellbeing is integral to an International Baccalaureate (IB) programme of education offered by SEK, which nurtures positive relationships among students and with staff, and encourages a confident self-image, a positive attitude, perseverance and resilience in the student.
At SEK Dublin we are using a holistic approach to student wellbeing
SEK Dublin International School is the first school in Ireland to be authorised by the International Baccalaureate Organisation to teach the Middle Years Programme (MYP) and the Diploma Programme (DP). School counsellor, Ciara O’Donoghue explains how the school is preparing to support both staff and students; “At SEK Dublin we are using a holistic approach to student wellbeing. We know that while it is important to have a counsellor to support our students, it´s not enough for the overall wellbeing of staff and students. It needs to be a whole school initiative for it to be effective. A day of mindfulness or a one-off workshop can be helpful, but at SEK Dublin we understand that a more consistent approach is needed. An awareness of wellbeing and social and emotional learning (SEL) is woven into the fabric of the curriculum and the day-to-day operations at the school.”
This top-down approach at SEK consists of leadership working alongside both the counselling team and teachers to prioritise social and emotional learning. At SEK Dublin, this includes a back-to-school induction dedicated to reflection and team building, followed by the development of a realistic and manageable plan for staff wellbeing. Teachers and leadership will also share best practice in their own self-care. Throughout the year, regular staff check-ins will ensure that everyone is feeling supported.
This formal support network enables our teachers to better support our students. Time will be dedicated to re-orientation, socialising, team building and group reflections. Daily check-ins will give students the opportunity to express how they are feeling while also encouraging groups to support individuals who are not doing so well. An elected student council will meet regularly with the leadership team to voice any issues or concerns. The aim is to foster a culture of empathy and compassion.
SEK Dublin is also aware that parents play an important role in their children's return to school. Parents should be mindful of their children's emotions so they can ensure as smooth a transition as possible. There are many steps parents can take to help their children as they return to the classroom:
Talk to your child
When schools closed, parents may have explained to their children that they were staying at home to stay safe. As we prepare to return to the classroom, some younger children may feel uneasy or even scared. Parents should have calm and age-appropriate conversations with their children to explain to them that it is now safe to go back to school. Reassure your child that teachers will make sure everyone is secure and school is once again a safe environment.
Mind your own emotions
We all know that children learn from their parents´ behaviour. They pick up on your emotions or can overhear adult conversations which can scare or worry them. Try to be optimistic and positive around everything that has to do with the school return. Children need to understand that the important adults in their life feel confident that school is a safe environment.
Pay special attention to changes in your children´s behaviour
You know your children better than anybody else, so you will be able to notice changes in their behaviour. These changes may be the result of stress or worry. Talk to your children and reassure them. Children will feel better if they sense that they are in a safe and nurturing environment.
Keep an open channel of communication with your children´s teachers
As the children go back to school, everybody should be vigilant about their behaviour and emotions. Talk to your children´s teachers so that you can monitor them together. The importance of establishing positive parent-teacher relationships based on trust cannot be overstated. When parents and teachers communicate regularly and effectively, students feel supported and confident, and in most cases, it even leads to better academic results.
SEK International School Dublin is now accepting applications for the upcoming school year. For more information visit www.dublin.sek.es/en