family support

Back to school: Supporting pupil wellbeing online

Back to school: Supporting pupil wellbeing online

Almost two years in, you’ve seen how the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted your school, pupils, and families. In addition to delivering education support such as pupil counselling,  Kineara is undertaking a research project in collaboration with TeacherTapp to identify and explore the needs and challenges facing schools during these uncertain times. The first data set comes from 6,435 schools indicating what type of support they would benefit from in an online/digital format. Below is a snapshot of the results.  

Key findings:  

  • Pupil counselling was the most popular form of digital/online support. In particular, this was the top response for teachers working in secondary schools.
  • Results from both primary and secondary schools reinforced the importance of whole family support and early intervention. Additionally, drop-in support, family sessions, and family therapy were top responses from primary schools.
  • As expected, there was generally a higher level of support needs identified by schools working in deprived areas compared to their more affluent counterparts. Drop-in support for parents, family sessions, and family therapy were the most popular responses among Q4 (deprived) schools. Notably, however, private secondaries also indicated a high level of need for pupil counselling. This shows that despite the socioeconomic advantage afforded to  pupils from more affluent areas, there remains a need to address mental health and wellbeing among all children and young people.
  • Family sessions and family therapy was the most requested from state primaries (61%), while parents drop-in support was the strongest need among private primaries. Additionally, pupil counselling was the most popular answer among both private secondaries (48%) and state secondaries (59%).

Free resource (limited time only!):   

We are really happy to be sharing our free PDF resource containing proven activities to support mental health and wellbeing for primary and secondary school pupils alike. It comes with full instructions, key benefits, and our top tips on adapting our resource to different contexts. We hope you find it helpful!  

Download your free resource here

To find out more about our education support in schools or if you have any questions about the above, book a friendly chat with us today. Contact us at: info@kineara.co.uk or call 020 3976 1450.  

Posted by kineara in Education
Practitioner Insights: Five ways to ease loneliness and disconnection

Practitioner Insights: Five ways to ease loneliness and disconnection

What is the difference between feeling lonely and being alone? When you feel alone – even around other people – you may be feeling disconnected. Perhaps your needs are not being met, you are not connecting with people on a meaningful level, or you are going through hidden challenges or experiences nobody else knows about. This Loneliness Awareness Week, we share insights on the value of actively listening and connecting to ease loneliness. You can use these tips to ease loneliness and disconnection in yourself and others. As an organisation that provides valuable support, you may also find these insights helpful.  

1. Actively listening:  

When going through challenges you may feel like your voice isn’t being heard, which can fuel feelings of loneliness, resentment, stress, anger and tension. Making an effort to listen to others – not just listening to give a reply but really actively listening – can be a great starting point for easing these feelings and building a meaningful connection. Sometimes we want to fix everything and give solutions and advice, but for some people real active listening and feeding back what they have said can be even more powerful. 

Action: Make an effort to listen –not just listening to give a reply but really actively listening. 

2. Meaningfully connecting  

When you feel alone even around other people, you may be feeling disconnected. Try connecting with yourself first and foremost to better understand: Why do you feel like this? Do you crave more meaningful relationships? What is your definition of friendship? Are you working through a challenge or trauma in your life? Recognising your feelings may help you decide what you need to do to feel better. If you believe someone close to you may be feeling like this, try strengthening your own relationship with them by setting meaningful time to just talk and be together with no judgement or expectations.  

Action: Try connecting with yourself to better understand why you are feeling this way. Set meaningful time with yourself and others to strengthen your relationships.  

3. Authentically expressing 

It can be difficult to connect with others when you have your guard up or dismiss your own authentic self. This, coupled with societal factors and expectations, can contribute to feelings of disconnection with others and/or in group settings. Try seeking outlets to express yourself such as connecting with close friends and family and/or doing activities that bring you joy. Expressing yourself authentically in a way that you are comfortable with is valuable for your own mental health and wellbeing. Taking some time out to recharge your social meter is important too.  

Action: Try seeking different ways and outlets to express yourself like connecting with close friends and family and doing activities that bring you joy. Take time out to recharge your batteries too.  

4. Sincerely asking  

Asking questions to yourself and others can help to generate better solutions to problems and uncover different challenges. It can also help you remain open, non-judgemental and sincere in supporting yourself and others. “I care about you. Is there anything I can do to help you work through this?” “May I help you find someone who can support you?” “How would you like things to be different?” Remember to check in regularly with yourself too.  

Action: Ask open-ended, non-judgmental and sincere questions to generate better solutions to problems and uncover different challenges. Check in regularly with yourself too. 

5. Holistically supporting  

When you’re talking to someone, it helps to see that person as a system – in that system is a person, their needs, background, parentage, education, culture, faith etc. You’re not seeing a situation or a person as one-dimensional but seeing them in a holistic frame. At Kineara, our support is holistic and tailored to the needs of the individual and family. This means we look at the bigger picture, addressing different challenges they may be facing in life, including issues with rent or housing insecurity, emotional wellbeing, or household needs and relationship. Although holistic working is a specialism, it helps to recognise this approach, be aware of those other issues, and bring in specialist support as needed. 

Action: Connect with support services that add value and find out more about holistic support. 

Helpful links  

Marmalade Trust – A charity dedicated to recognising loneliness, helping people make new friendships and connections, and hosting Loneliness Awareness Week.  

Apply For Help – WaveLength – Wavelength has really helped our clients who have been isolated and many have lost everything through homelessness. To be able to listen to music or watch a television has really helped their mental health. 

Digital Inclusion Project – Many of us were fortunate enough to get through lockdown with a phone, computer and the internet. But there were many who couldn’t FaceTime or Zoom their friends and family, they had little or no contact with others. Our digital inclusion courses help people gain confidence so that they become digitally independent and connected to the services and networks they need. 

 

Posted by kineara in Community, Health and Wellbeing
Covid-19 and Education: A list of helpful links and resources for parents, families, and school staff

Covid-19 and Education: A list of helpful links and resources for parents, families, and school staff

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed schooling and the world of education as we know it. Given the challenges for families and education staff alike, we’ve put together a list of links and resources where you can find up-to-date information and support. In particular, these links cover:

  • Mental health and wellbeing
  • Home-schooling/ learning
  • Learning support resources and activities
  • Supporting SEND children
  • Accessing low-cost, affordable computers and IT equipment
  • Support for challenges that may be affecting your child’s or pupils’ education 

If you are aware of any links, webpages or resources that you think would be useful for this page, please do contact us. You can also visit our education page to find out more about our work in schools. 

Last updated 20.01.21 

Support for parents, carers and families 

The NSPC provides tips and resources for parents whilst self-isolating including online safety tips, supporting SEND pupils, and dealing with conflict and family tensions.  

Laptops for Kids is a charity that facilitates the donation, secure erasure and distribution of used digital devices, enabling children from disadvantaged backgrounds to have access to the technology they need to participate in remote learning.

On supporting autistic children and young people, Kineara has put together these helpful tips  and an infographic here. You can also visit Bloomsfield Trust for information on accessing computers for children with autism.

Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) has produced a webpage for supporting adults and children with learning disabilities or autistic adults and children, including government guidance and downloadable guides.

Young Minds has a regularly updated webpage for tips, advice and where to get support for your child’s mental health during the Covid-19 pandemic. This includes top 10 tips from its Parents Helpline experts for talking to your child about Covid-19. 

Barnardo’s online service called See, Hear, Respond includes practical advice about how to talk to your children about the pandemic to tips on managing anxiety and much more.

Family Lives offers a range of local and national services, as well as these helpful tips and advice for coping emotionally and practically, including tips for home learning, managing anxiety and supporting SEND children. 

Brighter Futures for Children has put together this webpage of the various support available for parents and carers, as well some helpful resources.

Kineara has put together these top tips for parents and families based on the work of its education practitioners. 

A resource on parenting during Covid-19 produced by The Parenting for Lifelong Health project is available in over 50 languages. 

Helpfulresources and downloadsfor parents and families by Family Links. 

Support for teachers and school staff 

Access the latest documents from the Department for Education (DfE), as well as The Schools and Colleges handbook for England, which is updated regularly. Schools, trusts and local authorities can also help disadvantaged children get online using free mobile data increases or 4G wireless routers provided by the DfE. 

On accessing low-cost, affordable IT equipment for pupils, The Raspberry Pi Foundation sell £35 laptops and have given thousands to families. Computer Aid also provides computers and IT equipment to schools. Schools can find further links to be able to apply for computers here.

Pearson’s webpage provides useful tools and resources for supporting schools with the ongoing impact of Covid-19, including remote teaching and learning support.

The Mental Health Foundation has put togetherguidance for schools coping with Covid-19 and disruption to learning. The guidance covers challenges facing pupils and families, and how to support your own mental health as a teacher.  

Place2Be has put together free resources to help children explore what it means to Express Yourself this Children’s Mental Health Week and beyond. These activities can be adapted for use in school, home-schooling, online lessons or independent learning.

Education Support, which recently published its annual Teacher Wellbeing Index, has produced mental health resources for teachers, lecturers and support staff dealing with the Covid-19 crisis.They focus on  supporting education staff and topics which have been highlighted as especially difficult.You can view all the short video guides here. 

Kineara has put together this checklist for schools, teachers and education staff to help them work through various challengesfrom safeguarding, child protection and wellbeing concerns, as well as how to identify and respond to these. 

The RSC offers a wide range of resources for remote teaching on theireducation website and have set up a page dedicated toremote teaching. 

EEF has launched arange of resourcesto support schools to address the impact of Covid-19 school closures on pupils learning and support home learning. 

Support, guidance and activity suggestions for schools byMentally Healthy Schools 

This EEF blog outlines 5 key principles which underpin meaningful home learning, as well as 5 issues we are facing during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Governors for Schools’ campaign Wellbeing Governors highlights the need for school boards to have a wellbeing link governor to support pupil and staff mental health and wellbeing. The charity has a number of resources including webinars, for governors to use to improve mental health and wellbeing provision at their school.

Given the current changes in schooling and education, Kineara has been adapting its education support for the pupils and families we work with. If you work in a school, please spare 5-10 minutes to complete our short survey about education support in your school, or simply share the link with your contacts. Alternatively, you can contact us directly at info@kineara.co.uk. We would love to hear from you.   

Posted by kineara in Education
Practitioner Insights: Back to school after the coronavirus lockdown – Tips for parents and carers

Practitioner Insights: Back to school after the coronavirus lockdown – Tips for parents and carers

The transition back to school will undoubtedly be challenging for pupils and their families – from difficult experiences at home to re-adjusting to their normal routines. Drawing on the experience of our Education lead practitioner Gail McNelly, this post explores practical tips for parents, carers, and families.

We know that families living in precarious situations, facing financial hardship, and going through other challenging times have borne the brunt of the lockdown period. For many of the families we work with, the closure of schools, afterschool clubs and centres has been particularly tough, in addition to increased mental health and wellbeing concerns. Due to these challenges and more, it is important that parents and families are informed and feel supported during this transition.

Tips for parents, carers, and families

  1. Try your best to stay informed

As schools continue to review their safeguarding and child protection guidelines, it is also important that as parents you stay informed of policies as they change. Try your best to engage with the school by speaking to teachers and anyone else involved in your child’s learning about any concerns you may have. You can also read more information for parents and carers about returning to school post-lockdown including the policies on wearing face coverings.

  1. Get talking

Our recent Motivate to Educate (M2E) survey found that 75% of parents felt that Covid-19 has impacted on the mental health and wellbeing of the family, including 50% indicating an impact on family communication.  It is therefore more important than ever to talk to your child about what is going on and how they are feeling about going back to school. This may include talking about going back to the normal school routine which is one they will have to re-adjust to. Here are some more practical tips and conversation starters you can start to implement by Young Minds.

  1. Explore different activities with your children

Connect with your child and their interests by doing activities together like cooking, decorating, exercising, family yoga, making art, playing board games, or going to the park. You could help them to explore their feelings and ways to manage them by reading our previous #PractitionerInsights post and utilising the Time for Us pack. There are also online resources to support home learning including these checklists from the Education Endowment Foundation.

  1. Re-introduce daily routines

One parent who took part in our M2E survey said the lockdown had affected their “routines, family time and having a bit oschoolwork.” Further to this, Gail found that the lockdown period saw many children turning to technology and gaming which, in some cases, had affected their daily routines including eating and sleeping patterns. As schools re-open, it is important to help your child return to their normal sleeping and eating routines, particularly during the first few weeks of school which they may be the most challenging. You could start by checking out this guide on improving sleep by the Mental Health Foundation.

  1. It is okay if you struggle

For those of you who have felt particularly isolated, concerned, or fearful during this lockdown period, returning to school will of course be challenging and daunting.  Things will take time to get used to – try to stay patient with yourself and your children. You could explore different coping strategies that work for you when you are feeling stressed out like connecting with nature, meeting friends and family and breathing techniques. How you look after your own wellbeing will impact on the wellbeing of your children.

We are developing an exciting addition to our education support which will include a package of online support and training for schools, to help school adapt their support services to the post-Covid world. If you work in a school or have links with people in education, we’d love your thoughts and feedback. Take our short survey here.

More helpful links

Relief and support during Covid-19: A list of links and resources by Kineara

Supporting autistic children during the coronavirus pandemic plus some helpful resources by Kineara

Practitioner Insights – Tips for schools and educators

Helpful resources and downloads for parents and families by Family Links

Find out more about our education services

Posted by kineara in Education
Practitioner Insights: Back to school after the coronavirus lockdown – Tips for schools and educators

Practitioner Insights: Back to school after the coronavirus lockdown – Tips for schools and educators

As schools reopen their doors in the coming weeks, the transition will of course be challenging for everyone involved. Drawing on the experience of our Education lead practitioner Gail McNelly, this post focuses on how we can begin to identify and respond to these heightened challenges, namely safeguarding, child protection and wellbeing concerns in order to support everyone at school.  

  1. Recognise the challenges facing pupils and their families

While generally experiences have been varied during the lockdown period, we’ve seen how families living in precarious situations, facing financial hardship, and going through other challenges including mental health and wellbeing have borne the brunt of the lockdown. Some of these families have felt particularly isolated and fearful, while others have experienced loss and bereavement. Together with reviewing policies and procedures as things continue to change, it is vital that school staff are aware of the different challenges that families have faced in order to identify how best to safeguard and protect wellbeing at school. You could begin by engaging and regularly checking in with pupils and their families to find out about their concerns.

  1. Introduce creative check-ins and wellbeing activities

In our recent Motivate to Educate (M2E) survey, 75% of parents indicated that Covid-19 has impacted on the mental health and emotional wellbeing of the familyincluding 50% indicating an impact on family communication. Thus, in addition to these wellbeing activity ideas for schools by Place2Be and Young Minds, Gail suggests that checking in with pupils through an “emotions meter” and “emoji game” could be very helpful for pupils and school staff alike – this is something that Kineara will be developing further. Talking to children about any concerns they may have, what they liked about lockdown, what they didn’t like about lockdown is important – and integrating this into a group activity could be even more effective. “Teachers could check-in with pupils by integrating it with the register,” suggests Gail.

  1. Connect with pupils in a way that resonates with them

Some pupils may be reluctant to share things or even follow guidelines during this time which can impact further on their safety and learning and those around them. If you are supporting a pupil 1:1, show that you are here for them. As you get to know your pupil, try to engage in a way that resonates with them. Don’t ignore the elephant in the room – ask them how they are feeling about the pandemic and acknowledge this without minimising or dismissing their concerns. Try to have open conversations by doing different activities like reading or drawing together – this will help to break the ice and allow them to express themselves better.

  1. Adapting to digital teaching and learning

“Although different organisations including Kineara were running online check-ins and other virtual services, it hasn’t been easy. We were giving them tips and sending ideas for different family activities which some of them were doing. However, a lot of  parents were even scared to go out for a walk because of the virus so I did do some work around that,” explains Gail. One parent and survey respondent who took part in our M2E programme highlighted social distancing as a barrier, “We can’t do many activities outside like swimming, going to church, clubs and cinema due to social distancing.” This means that it may take some time for pupils to be back in school every day, particularly pupils with SEND, which could result in a combination of in-school and virtual teaching – the NSPCC has put together this helpful guide relating to this including how to undertake remote teaching safely.  In the coming months, this reality could also mean a wider review on adapting teaching and other services in the mid to long-term.

We are developing an exciting addition to our education support which will include a package of online support and training for schools, to help school adapt their support services to the post-Covid world. To help us develop this, we’d love your thoughts and feedback. Take our short survey here.

Helpful links and resources

NSPCC has put together this transitioning back to school resources pack

Young Minds has a range of resources for schools, teachers and support practitioners including tips to support pupils during Covid-19 and the transition back to school

EEF has launched a range of resources to support schools to address the impact of Covid-19 school closures on pupils’ learning and support home learning.

My Tutor has shared this interview with NHS Psychologist on what parents can do to prepare their kids to return to school 

Support, guidance and activity suggestions for schools by Mentally Healthy Schools

5 ways to help keep children learning during the COVID-19 pandemic by Unicef

Posted by kineara in Education
GPS, snack bars and fully charged phone: A practitioner’s survival guide

GPS, snack bars and fully charged phone: A practitioner’s survival guide

In the busy, complex and varied world of family support, our practitioners have to be prepared for anything. Here is our ultimate guide for surviving a day in the life of a Kineara practitioner.

 

Properly functioning GPS, and plenty of data

Ever had that sinking feeling when you’re on your way to an appointment and your map app has taken you in the wrong direction? Sandra was recently driving to a meeting and found herself green fields around farm yard animals, until she realized her data had failed her miles before and her GPS had gone haywire.

Snack bars

I was lucky enough to overhear an important conversation in our office yesterday about which snack bar really is the best go-to when you’re feeling hungry, you’re on the move, and in-between appointments. There was no consensus on brand, but a definite agreement that snack bar in your pocket is an indispensable part of a practitioner toolkit.

 

Charger bank

Equally important is a charger bank to make sure you never suddenly run out of battery while on the move. Being constantly on the go from appointment to appointment, how did support workers even manage before the mobile phone came along?

 

Umbrella and comfortable shoes

Of course, this is a given. Anyone who has trudged the streets of London in the winter knows an umbrella is a must, and comfortable shoes will always be top choice over our new stylish favourites – running to catch that bus or standing in line at the housing office with our clients calls for comfort all the way.

 

Coffee shop loyalty card

For Liz, that on-the-go coffee from her favourite place keeps her going through the day, and why not make sure you get that 10th coffee for free?

 

Your favourite podcast or playlist

And finally…to help you wind down after a heavy day, our practitioners recommend keeping your favourite podcast ready or a playlist with your best loved songs to accompany you home. Self-care is just as important as the care we offer our families, and this is a tip to help you switch off from the pressures of the day and enjoy your evening…before the new day rolls around.

Are you a support worker or practitioner that can relate to our guide? What tips would you share for getting through a busy day? Let us know!

 

Our team is growing! We currently have an open vacancy for a housing support practitioner. If you would like to join our team to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives, get in touch with us.

Find out more about our impact.

Read more about the work of our practitioners, including how to support pupils through the stress of exams.

Posted by kineara in Community, Education, Housing