Place2Be’s Children’s Mental Health week took place from Monday 5th to Friday 9th at St Michael’s and the message shared was very clear for the children – their voice matters! Children’s Mental Health Week is a mental health awareness week that empowers, equips and gives a voice to all children and young people in the UK.
Children were reminded about their rights according to the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the child. The focus article was Article 12.
We launched with a collective worship for EYFS and Key Stage 1 and another for KS2. We even sat differently so the children could really consider the impact that our voices have on each other.
In EYFS and KS1 classes shared ‘Speak Up’ by Nathan Byron about a character, Rocket, who used her voice to make a difference. This was also relevant as all classes have been discussing ways that they can make a difference to their communities and beyond!
KS2 junior classes also shared the inspirational life of Baruani Ndume, featured in Marcia Williams book, ‘Children who Changed the World.’ His voice had a far reaching impact.
The message was clear – our voices matter and our voices count!
Following this, the children had an opportunity to explore the impact their voices can have on others. Reception class had a fantastic discussion and used stories as a reminder of golden rules. It was a perfect opportunity to talk about how their daily focus on ‘being kind’ can help us by listening to our friends when they ‘speak up’ about things – even things they may not like. They read Ruby’s Worries by Tom Percival, a wonderful text for talking to children about hidden worries.
Year 1 spent a lot of time discussing their emotions and why we feel certain ways at different times. They talked about strategies to support their emotions such as finding someone they could talk to, using the zones of regulation toolbox ideas and taking some time out if needed.
The children were able to really express themselves and understood that we are all unique and, as such, can react in different ways for different scenarios. The children thought about how they felt in that moment and created some pictures to express their feelings.
Year 2 discussed how sometimes it can be difficult to say how we are feeling and who we like to tell. They played a game (sticky high fives) where all had a sentence starter. The children went around and connected one on one with others in the class and discussed things such as ….
- I am frightened of…
- I really enjoy …
- I’m worried about …
The children worked well together and enjoyed listening to each other.
Year 3 thought about the things that matter to them. They considered what it means for their voices to matter and discussed what else is important to them. This included things like friends and family, faith, possessions and values. Year 3 then created posters to share what mattered.
Year 4 talked about how they can show others that they matter. They considered both verbal and non- verbal ways of showing e.g. smiling, nodding, giving a high-5, paying attention, as well as asking questions and showing an interest.
Year 4 shared their gratitude letters with each other, it certainly brought smiles to faces.
You’ve been my buddy since I was in Reception and since you left St Michael’s a long time ago, I’ve wanted to see you. You were my best friend. Jeremiah
(Hannah was a returning Year 10 student on work experience who reunited with her Reception buddy from when she was in Year 6)
When you stop to check if I am ok, I feel cared for and that felt good! Everyone needs to feel like they matter – so thank you for helping me to feel like I matter! Michael
To Segasi and Deanneka,
You are my best friends and so loving. You guys make me happy. Briley-Mai
To Rahseen and Reece,
Thank you for being good friends and making me feel like a good friend. You guys always make me happy. Nia-Monae
To Briley and Deanneka,
Thank you for making me feel like I matter. I feel so grateful for meeting you. You make me feel like I’m enough, so in would like to do the same to you! Our friendship will be everlasting. You’ve been helpful for every bit of time I have been here. Thank you. Segasi
Rosa, Sunat and Alia,
On my first day of school you invited me to join your group and instantly made me feel wanted, thank you. Alesha
Year 5 focused on making their voice heard. They discussed that they can talk to a trusted adult and it was a particular focus that they ‘do not keep it in’. They created posters and cards highlighting having a voice – a voice that matters!
The children in Year 6 were asked to respond to the question: ‘What matters to you?’
They created a ‘swirl’ of things that matter to them. At the centre, they started with everyday things that matter to them and then thought about things in the wider world that are important to them.
No matter the activity, we want the children to realise that for this week and all the weeks that follow – their voices matter and count!