Let me start by introducing myself. I am Ben Raidme and I am one of two Assistant Principals at Bellaire Primary School. I act as the school’s Wellbeing and Digital Technologies Coordinator and consider myself extremely fortunate and beyond grateful for the opportunity to be working within such an incredibly energetic, innovative and hardworking school community. I have a passion for working with children to support resilience and wellbeing and have thoroughly enjoyed my first few months as a new staff member at Bellaire.
Bellaire places a strong emphasis on the engagement and wellbeing of all our students. We work to ensure students, staff and families are well supported and feel connected to the BPS community.
My work includes supporting wellbeing in the following ways;
- Oversee the implementation of the school’s policies and procedures aligned with wellbeing and engagement and coordinate whole school approach to School Wide Positive Behaviour.
- Respond to student, staff and parent enquiries regarding student and family wellbeing and welfare.
- Design professional learning sessions for staff in regard to wellbeing, in line with the school’s strategic goals and plan
- Provide in-classroom support for teachers around wellbeing and behaviour management development for staff (using a coaching and mentor model)
- Oversee Bellaire’s attendance, including monitoring the policy implementation and family follow up.
I am excited to begin sharing and communicating our wellbeing news with the school community through our Newsletter, as well as providing links to articles, apps and resources that parents and caregivers may find useful in supporting their children. Our aim is that the wellbeing update will develop into a collaborative project between the school and our parent community. This communication will also assist families in their understanding of how we work with children at school.
In today’s update we will look at what wellbeing actually is and how it is linked to enhanced learning outcomes for students.
Wellbeing – it’s a word we hear a lot these days. We understand that it’s important for our children; but it’s not always clear exactly what it is, how we know if they’ve got it, and how we can help them to get more!
Since the Slip! Slop! Slap! campaign of the early 1980s, the media has helped to spread messages about the importance of protecting our skin from the sun, regular exercise and a diet rich in nourishing wholefoods to promote and protect our own physical health and that of our families.
In more recent times, government and mainstream media are focusing on improving mental health and ensuring families have a clear understanding of wellbeing and how we can support our children to cultivate their own. Put simply, children’s wellbeing is a combination of their physical, mental, emotional and social health. And because a range of different elements contribute to their wellbeing, there are a lot of activities we can do with them, role model for them and teach them, to improve it.
Developing wellbeing is more than ensuring the absence of ill-health – it’s about taking action to adopt thinking and behaviour patterns that researchers have shown to foster flourishing physical and mental health.
As a school, we know about the important relationship between wellbeing and learning. Wellbeing positively influences student learning outcomes, and success in learning enhances student wellbeing.
Wellbeing is linked to improved academic achievement, enhanced mental health and responsible life choices. Helping students to feel connected and engaged in their learning, and collaborating effectively with parents, will enable students to develop the social and emotional skills to grow into happy, respectful, well-balanced and successful members of their school and wider community.
It’s evident from the Australian Child and Adolescent Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing that it’s never been more important for parents to prioritise wellbeing for their children. Among 4 to 11-year-olds, 1 in 100 are depressed, 7 in 100 suffer with anxiety and 8 in 100 struggle with ADHD. Add to those worrying statistics the knowledge that 1 in 4 Australian children are overweight or obese, and it’s easy to see why working on wellbeing matters.
Here are 5 practices that you can put into action to enhance your child’s wellbeing:
1. Get them outside and moving
Australian children are some of the least active in the world according to some recent studies, with as few as 1 in 5 meeting the recommended 60 minutes of daily exercise. There’s so much we can do! It takes some effort, but this is what really matters.
2. Create plenty of opportunities for your children to foster positive connections with their friends, family, and of course with you!
Positive social relationships not only enhance children’s wellbeing but are key to their future wellbeing as adults as well. Time spent with friends helps children to develop social skills including sharing, compromise, listening and conflict resolution (just to name a few!). We understand this is a tricky concept during this current climate, but we encourage all families to do what they can and get creative.
3. Keep screen time to a minimum
I know, it’s easier said than done! Children love screens, but it’s important families work with their children to create clear and consistent limits and boundaries. Children also need to learn to cope with being bored! We strongly encourage all parents to visit the following eSafety website for tips and advice to ensure their children are using technology safely.
4. Help your children develop mindfulness skills
Mindfulness is about paying attention in the present moment, letting thoughts come and go without getting caught up in them. That’s it. Sounds easy, but like any skill it takes time and practice. It gives children’s overstimulated minds a rest! A regular mindfulness practice will also help them to regulate their attention and their emotions; and teaches them to create a lifelong practice of taking time out to become calm, content, relaxed and in the moment. We highly recommend the Smiling Mind app (check out their Digital Care Packs which have been developed to support students through COVID-19) for age appropriate mindfulness meditations.
5. Last but not least – ensure your children get ample sleep
Primary school children need 10-12 hours of sleep per day. Teachers often notice when children haven’t had enough sleep; they are usually restless, disengaged, yawning and find it difficult to engage in their learning and think logically in social situations. What helps enormously is establishing clear and consistent routines including; no screen time one hour before bed, a ‘wind-down’ routine which may include a bath/shower, being read a book and then quiet reading before lights out. Taking time to chat with your children before bed or encouraging them to reflect on what they’re grateful for is also a great way to help them decompress and get a restful night’s sleep.