Mental health

Practitioner Insights: Teaching your pupils during the pandemic 

Practitioner Insights: Teaching your pupils during the pandemic 

Over the last year, you’ve seen how challenging teaching during the pandemic has been. Kineara’s holistic approaches to school and home life can provide you with some helpful tips and tricks to support your pupils’ learning and wellbeing, as well as your own. Use these learnings to build upon your own, deepen your empathy and recognise the hidden challenges that your pupils and families may be facing during the pandemic. You can also visit our education page to read more about how holistic support works in practice, and how we can support you 

 

Emotional health and resilience 

Many pupils and families have been struggling with their mental health and wellbeing during the pandemic. They may also be feeling stressed, fearful, and anxious about the upcoming changes, including the reopening of schools.  

Studies have shown the negative mental and physical health effects of increased screen-time, so it’s natural to see a dip in pupil motivation and energy levels during online classes. For some families, this is coupled with practical challenges like the lack of space (or workspace), financial hardship, or personal struggles with maintaining a daily routine. All these challenges in the home can make it even harder for pupils to focus. As for returning to school, psychologists have warned that the current “catch-up narrative” is also putting huge pressure on pupils. Recognising these pressures will help you to prioritise pupil wellbeing, which will positively impact on your pupils’ learning.  

While we equip parents with effective tools and strategies to support their children’s wellbeingwe encourage you to prioritise this, and your own wellbeing too. As a teacher or school staff, you know that you play a crucial role in the academic progress and attainment of your pupils. Focusing on your own wellbeing will not only help you thrive in your role, but it will positively impact on your pupils. Here are some top tips to get you started: 

  • Genuinely check in with your pupils and let them know that you and the school are here to support them.  
  • Give your pupils the opportunity to communicate and ask you for things. 
  • Create a positive classroom culture which includes mutual respect, kindness and sharing. 
  • Introduce team building exercises and different activities like the “emotions meter” or “emoji game”, if you haven’t already.  
  • Maintain and build positive relationships with your pupils and families.  
  • Focus on your wellbeing (Remember that ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’) 
  • Get extra support for yourself or your pupils if needed (See ‘further support’ below) 

Challenges for ‘vulnerable’ families  

Families living in precarious situations, facing financial hardship, and going through other personal challenges have borne the brunt of the lockdown. Some families have felt particularly isolated and fearful, and/or have fallen behind on rent due to rising living costs and income hits. To this, both benefit cuts and the end of furlough are set for spring, along with unemployment levels predicted to rise, all of which may drive up rent arrears even further.  

As you want pupils to engage and benefit from your lessons, it’s important that  these families get the necessary support. Otherwise, you may see a fall in your pupils’ learning and attainment, emotional wellbeing, and even their relationships with others. Families who took part in our M2E programme have told us that their children have now started to engage more in school and in the home, developed emotional awareness, and improved their grades. While organisations like Kineara work to uncover these hidden challenges through tailored, holistic support, here are some top tips you can try:  

  • Teachers are natural problem solvers – teach and model this to your pupils to help them develop problem solving skills, which is key to building resilience during adversity.  
  • Be compassionate and lenient, but also hold your pupils to high expectationsYou could, for example, not penalise pupils on deadlines, but also give constructive feedback and hold students to account 
  • Encourage your pupils to set goals and coach them to achieve these goals. Whether they achieve them or not, it will help them boost their confidence, self-esteem, and motivation in school.  
  • Recognise that often pupils are dealing with things we know nothing about, which may affect their time in school. Help your pupils relax by introducing breathing exercises or other mindfulness activities if possible. You can read how his has helped our M2E pupils here.  

Working together 

This pandemic has highlighted the resilience and passionate resolve of our teachers and school staff. As our CEO, Maria Morgan, said, “We recognise that teachers give a lot – their work doesn’t just stop at school, it’s at home, and it’s not just teaching children – they’re social workers, doctors, parents, they’re everything!” While we like to believe that teachers are superheroes (which you are), we know that superheroes need support too. Here are some key learnings from other teachers:  

  • Don’t try to do it all. Acknowledge when you need support. And if so, get support and advice from other teachers and/or someone you trust. 
  • Connect and socialise with other teachers, friends, and family. This will help you maintain and strengthen positive relationships, emotional wellbeing and even job satisfaction. 
  • Strive to maintain work-life balance. Not only will this help you become a better teacher, but it will also help you take care of yourself mentally and physically.  
  • Be flexible at home and at school. Planning is important, but you need to be able to quickly adapt plans when new situations and challenges arise.  The changes brought about by the pandemic is a key example of this 

Further support 

As a school or teacher, you are already dealing with heavy workloads and ongoing pressures, so it’s important to seek out support you need itKineara is well equipped to support you to work through multi-complex or hidden challenges your pupils are facing, as outlined above. Our intensive support for pupils and embedded wraparound support for schools are part of our holistic service that aims to improve wellbeing at school. All this is delivered by experienced practitioners and is tailored to meet the needs of your school.  

With the rising demand for pastoral care and specialised support post-lockdown, contact us today to find out how we can help. We’d love to support you. 

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

Covid-19 and Education: A list of helpful links and resources for parents, families, and education 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
Developing our education support post-Covid

Developing our education support post-Covid

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 want to know about your experience of educational support and online provision at your school.  

Our services for schools include our Motivate to Educate (M2E) programme which provides holistic one-to-one support over 15 weeks to primary and secondary pupils and their familiesas well as embedded wraparound support which aims to improve the wellbeing of everyone at school. You can read more about our services, work, and impact here. 

With eight years’ experience of delivering M2E in schools and seeing the difference that the presence of an independent, specialist support worker can make, we are now exploring ways to take and develop M2E online based on our in-house delivery. 

M2E Online: Given calls for Ofsted to assess the quality of online provision, as well as  the challenges of Covid-19 on schools, M2E online is designed to the individual schools’ bespoke need. For example, a school may want counselling, parent workshops, or other aspects of the traditional M2E service. 

Licensing: Enabling and training schools to deliver M2E in-house with Kineara’s support. 

Your Voice  

During this exploratory phase, we want to know about your experiences of educational support and online provision at your school. Your answers will enable us to better meet the needs and expectations at your school, as well as continue to develop meaningful support for schools, pupils, and families across the country. The survey will take just 5-10 minutes to complete.   

Take the short survey here 

 

Posted by kineara in Education, Research
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
Practitioner insights: 6 ways to support autistic children during the coronavirus pandemic 

Practitioner insights: 6 ways to support autistic children during the coronavirus pandemic 

The coronavirus pandemic is unlike anything most of us have had to deal with. With schools closed, routines and support services disrupted, and increasing concerns all round, it’s easy for us to feel like we’ve lost control. As Kineara’s practitioners continue to provide school-home services and adapt to the changing circumstances, our priority concern is, and will always be, about the safety and wellbeing of the people and families we work with. 
 
In light of this, combined with Autism Awareness and Stress Awareness Month, here are our top recommendations from Gail McNelly, Kineara’s Motivate to Educate (M2E) Lead Practitioner, for parents and carers of autistic children. The hope is to encourage positive coping and wellbeing for yourself and your children during this challenging time.

1. Keep your day as close to the school day as possible

Autistic children may feel anxiety about unexpected changes and events, as highlighted this month by the National Autistic Society. Giving children advanced notice about practical activities, space to express themselves, and time to come to terms with the various changes are very important during this time. “Most children with autism thrive on routine and structure,” says Gail, “Keeping to a good routine as close to the school day as possible can help you and your child maintain some control during this unpredictable time.”

2. Create a visual timetable to support daily routines

Supporting autistic children in understanding and navigating the COVID-19 situation is often best when combined with visuals. A visual timetable, for example, helps children to “know exactly when they are learning, eating, and have free time to play, as well a process information in multiple formats” says Gail. You could also customise a visual timetable with an interest of theirs – for example, with football, you could include space for football stickers and pictures.

3.  Observe their play, get involved and follow their lead

Making the most of your time together is now more important than ever. “You could spend time doing fun and creative activities,” says Gail. Much of what works will depend on your child but some ideas include: “Reading stories, baking fun biscuits, singing songs (nursery rhymes for younger children), trying different exercises, yoga or relaxation techniques, or using sensory objects to have calming down time.”

4. Build on strengths and talk about their interests

Supporting autistic children, Gail uses a variety of tools and resources to build on their individual strengths. Some of these include custom-made emotion cards to help communicate how they are feeling, bite-sized visual instructions and practical breathing/relaxation exercises. 
 
Working with one M2E pupil, Gail found that Talib loved trains and had memorised almost every journey. Therefore, she suggested that dad take him on train journeys and make it a reward for him. If this wasn’t possible, simply talking to Talib about trains, or buying a toy train as a reward and acknowledgement would help to strengthen positive relationships.

5. Be available to answer any questions

It’s normal for your child to feel nervous or anxious about COVID-19, so talk to your child about what is going on and answer any questions in a clear and easy-to-understand way. “An autistic child has a different way of understanding, learning and communicating,” says Gail. She adds that getting to know your child and what works for them, providing reassurance to your child, and letting your child feel their emotions, are all helpful ways to support their wellbeing.

6. A final message for parents

“If both parents live together and are available, take turns to have a rest at a certain point in each day,” says Gail, “I would also advise parents to take 30 minutes each day doing something to de-stress like guided visualisation, yoga or reading.” 
 
Gail also highlights the benefits of introducing family routines, particularly sleep routines, to deal with hyperactivity, anxiety and strengthen relationships. Reflecting on one M2E case, Gail explains, “He would have a warm bath with lavender, a short massage and a short story before bed. He was also given a worry book and a happy book where he would express his feelings and share them with mum during the sessions.” 
 
“Parenting is a very tough job but learning about your child and how they think is also a learning for ourselves. We must find new routines, different structures and work hard together to creates some positive changes within the family home.”

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.

Useful links 

Find out more about Motivate to Educate. 
 
Join the conversation on Twitter. 

Posted by kineara in Education
Case studies: Three ways to support children’s mental health

Case studies: Three ways to support children’s mental health

Supporting children’s mental health, developing emotional awareness and improving school motivation are just some of the ways our education support practitioners work holistically with pupils and their families. This Children’s Mental Health Week, we share five proven techniques we have used to support pupils’ mental health and wellbeing.

Holistic and wraparound care

Having delivered our Motivate to Educate (M2E) programme for several years, we’ve seen how a holistic approach can help children and young people overcome challenges in school and out. Our practitioners have found that support pupil’s families and teachers, such as giving them to talk about any challenges they’re facing, has a directly positive impact on pupils.

“Holistic support looks at the bigger picture, addressing other challenges they may be facing in life, including issues with rent or housing insecurity, emotional wellbeing or household needs and relationships,” explains Maria, Director of Kineara.

As for wraparound care this means, “we’re here for the child, we’re here for the parent, we’re here for the teacher, we’re here to care for all aspects of the school, for them to feel healthy and safe and have somewhere to go.”

Exploring pupils’ strengths

Working with pupil’s strengths, our practitioners use a wide variety of tools in tackling worry, anxiety and challenging behaviour in pupils. These include the use of bubble wrap, breathing and relaxation techniques, tailor-made emotion cards and daily post-it notes for both the child and parent to express how they are feeling.

As a young boy who has autism, Talib used tailor-made emotion cards and visuals during M2E to communicate how he was feeling in a way that was helpful to himself and others, especially when he was feeling sad or anxious.

During M2E, Gail also found that Talib loved trains and had the incredible skill of knowing almost every route, so she suggested that dad take Talib on train journeys and make it a reward for him.

“Learning about your pupil/ child and how they think is also a learning for ourselves. We must find new routines, different structures and work hard together to creates some positive changes in school and out”, says Gail.

Strengthening family relationships

Our practitioners found that working closely with the pupils’ family during M2E had a directly positive impact on their wellbeing, emotional awareness and behaviour in school.

In the case of Dayo – who was referred to M2E over concerns for his emotional wellbeing and behaviour in class – we saw how developing family routines and incorporating hands-on activities at home helped reduce problems at school.

As the eldest child of four, Dayo would often feel left out at home which was affecting his schooling. Gail, M2E practitioner, explains that one of the things that helped strengthen family relationships was introducing some cooking time with mum.

“We’ve learnt how to communicate better. I’ve also learnt about having independent one-to-one time with each child,” says Dayo’s mum. What’s more, Dayo’s dad admitted that he never spoke about emotions to the children before, but now he makes sure to praise them and tell them how proud he is.

Join the conversation on Twitter using #ChildrensMentalHealthWeek #FindYourBrave  

Want to give your pupils/ children the best start in life? Get in touch with us to discuss how we can work with your school.

Find out more about our education support services.

Posted by kineara in Education, Impact
Practitioner insights: How complex cases can impact our mental health and wellbeing

Practitioner insights: How complex cases can impact our mental health and wellbeing

Operating within frontline roles, our practitioners work directly with individuals and families experiencing mental health problems and/or multi-complex needs. Following World Mental Health Day, we ask our practitioners to share experiences relating to mental health and wellbeing at work, including the impact of working on intense cases and proven ways to support their own mental health and wellbeing.

There is a strong link between our mental and physical health and just like our physical health, our mental health needs looking after. Research indicates that one in four of us will experience some form of mental ill health in the course of a year. What’s more, MHFA believes mental health lies on a continuum, which like a spectrum, can change overtime depending on early identification, prevention and treatment.

Having delivered a range of specialist programmes that address key barriers to housing security, employment and education, our practitioners understand the importance of providing appropriate support to people experiencing mental ill health as part of their person-centred, holistic approach. However, we often forget that support professionals – be it, social workers, health professionals or support workers – who provide vital support to others, can also be affected by the intensity of the cases they work with.

Multi-complex needs and intense support

Rujia, our dedicated school-based practitioner, explains how the complex nature and intensity of certain cases means that some personal impact is almost inevitable: “In general, I think when working in this field it is difficult not to be impacted by other people’s circumstances because of the compassion we feel for others.”

“Previously, I worked with someone from our drop-in sessions who needed emotional support on an issue I have experienced myself. I felt a lot of empathy for this client and instantly found myself checking whether I am over-identifying with what she is saying and how best I can help her.”

“It’s important to reflect on our feelings and emotions and check where our responses are coming from to ensure our focus is the client. Being aware of our feelings also helps us to recognise the impact clients can have on us as it can trigger emotions in us that we then need to work through.”

Liz, our NLP practitioner echoes this: “In relation to the type of work that we do my first instinct is to support those who need support the most. Even when I feel like my cup is half empty, I find myself still pouring from my cup because I feel like someone else needs it more.”

Whilst drawing from experience and tapping into our positive traits can offer insight when dealing with cases, it’s important to check what impact a client’s situation is having on us, adds Rujia. “It’s very important to be mindful of whether we are over-identifying because that could make us move away from fully recognising what the client needs. We have to remember that everyone is different and therefore may experience things differently and need different things.”

A reflective approachA reflective approach

As a practitioner, Rujia highlights the importance of reflecting on our own feelings and emotions and check where our responses are coming from: “This ensures our focus is the client. Being aware of our feelings is also very important so we can recognise the impact clients have on us, as it can trigger emotions in us that we then need to work through,” she says.

“Sometimes even when I’m not working, I am thinking about the family and what else I need to do to support them! This can become unhealthy because it can become mentally and physically draining and we all need our break away from work and spend some time in our personal lives,” explains Rujia.

Fortunately, this is something Rujia recognised during a de-briefing session with a colleague: “Upon reflection, I was able to identify why I was feeling so tired. I then had to consciously make the effort to put some healthy boundaries in place by agreeing what goals I can work on with the family, as well as sticking to my working hours unless working evenings was planned for a specific reason. The families we work with often have multiple issues and we are working with for a limited time period, so having boundaries helps me work more effectively and not spread myself too thinly.”

“The families we work with often have multiple issues and we are working with for a limited time period, so having boundaries helps me work more effectively and not spread myself too thinly.”

The impact of mental health has huge social and economic costs; studies reveal the total economic cost in England is estimated at £105 billion per year and that 84 percent of UK line managers believe they are responsible for employee wellbeing, but only 24 percent have received relevant training. “It’s that energy and love which is fine but I think if you start to feel like it’s affecting you outside of the workplace it will affect the amount of time you spend at work,” says Liz, “I’ve learnt to lean on some of the support of my manager and team, especially if I feel like I’m having a day where there are a lot of intense cases or I just need some support.”

Mental health in the workplace

When it comes to looking after our mental health in the workplace, Liz and Rujia have found peer supervision particularly helpful. “It’s an opportunity to reflect on my work and the impact of the work on my own well-being and the importance of our own well-being in this field of work. Having a supportive supervisor who understands the impact of working with intense and complex cases is very important, not just for our own wellbeing but the wellbeing of the families we support,” says Rujia.

Reflecting on past cases, Liz adds: “In supervision, we can talk through difficult cases and dissect the different barriers and/or the crisis that individual is experiencing. In that space you kind of offload everything going on at work or personal life.”

“One thing we learnt was the Mental Health Continuum – that our place on the scale is constantly changing and that most of the time there are no absolutes in mental health.”

Mental health in the workplaceSince completing the MHFA training, Tam, Comms Officer at Kineara, believes that she is better equipped to offer a listening ear and support to our team of practitioners, and more aware of what signs to look out for. “I now understand how and why dealing with complex and intense cases can impact the wellbeing of our support practitioners. One of the most important things we learned was the Mental Health Continuum – that our place on the scale is constantly changing and that most of the time there are no absolutes in mental health. Sometimes it’s just taking the time to check in, ask twice and listen.”

The power of mediation

Despite the intense workload, our practitioners are passionate about the work they do. “Once I started seeing work as helping anyone in need which could even be myself, then I started seeing work/life balance as one thing. Supporting people and practicing self-love is part and parcel of who am, so I don’t really see it as I’m leaving work on the coat hanger and going home, I see it as just a part of me,” says Liz.

Crucially, both Rujia and Liz highlight the importance of looking after our own wellbeing to be able to give their best to the people and families they support and be emotionally available for them. “I spend some time over the weekends when I am not working to do something relaxing, this can be something as simple as having a long bath or going out for dinner with a friend,” says Rujia. “This allows me to support people in any capacity in any way I can, even in my community/block or within my family – it doesn’t stop at work! It’s like a way of life – when you see it as a way of life you see beyond the crisis or the issue and you see the person for who they are,” adds Liz.

“Having someone facilitate our thoughts that are there but just need writing down on paper, so it’s seen and heard. Everyone needs encouragement and mediation, nobody can function without the support from another, including us as practitioners!”

Liz adds that practicing self-awareness to inspire the best in herself and others is so important: “I believe everyone is an expert in their own life, they are the only person who has experienced what they are telling you in entirety and full context, so the most important thing is to listen because every situation is a new situation and may require a new way of approaching things. Once they tell you their stories and their journey you realise that anyone could be in that position.”

She adds: “That’s why mediation is so important; having someone facilitate our thoughts that are there but just need writing down on paper, so it’s seen and heard. Everyone needs encouragement and mediation, nobody can function without the support from another, including us as practitioners!”

Find out more about our work. 

Image credit: Mashable/Vicky Leta

Posted by kineara in Community, Latest
How to support your child as they start secondary school

How to support your child as they start secondary school

Starting secondary is a significant milestone in a young person’s life – new schools, new friends, new teachers and indeed new challenges altogether. Whether you’re a parent, teacher or practitioner, helping a young person through this transition can be one of the most impactful things you do for them. But how can we support them? Here our practitioners, team and friends share practical ways we can help pupils deal with such challenges.

1. Developing an identity

Fitting in, asserting an identity or gaining peer acceptance becomes even more prominent in a secondary school context. This undeniable reality can often lead to a dip in academic progress or intensify challenging behaviour.

“My challenge at school was a struggle between being a good student and getting the grades everyone (including myself) expected of me and wanting to be independent and assert my identity; who I wanted to be in this world and who my friends were,” says Sandra, Intervention Practitioner at Kineara.

Helping young people to express themselves authentically and take advantage of extracurricular activities is just one way of facilitating healthy social exploration. Sandra adds that it’s also important for parents and teachers to try to understand why someone is behaving the way they are instead of just trying to change it.

“Larger classes make it more difficult to have a closer relationship with students, which is where a service like Motivate to Educate (M2E) is helpful. It offers a listening ear and can help guide a student back on track,” she adds.

2. Bullying and peer pressure

Whether its physical, verbal, social, or online, bullying can take many forms. For parents, identifying any changes in your child’s behaviour, asking questions, and building meaningful relationships with their teachers can all make a difference.

Strengthening relationships between the parent and child, parent and teacher, and teacher and child, is one aim of M2E. “I was lucky that I had a good upbringing with parents who gave me a strong sense of self-worth that made me realise my potential. Without it I may have ended up in more serious trouble that would have been harder to return from,” says Sandra.

During the transition, it can be helpful to try to increase your child’s circle of friends by encouraging them to invite home their friends or participate in group activities. Educating pupils and their parents through assemblies, class discussions and workshops can also help to challenge stigma and raise awareness about the challenges that pupils are facing.

“Larger classes make it more difficult to have a closer relationship with students, which is where a service like Motivate to Educate (M2E) is helpful. It offers a listening ear and can help guide a student back on track.”

Reflecting on her own experience, Mel, Comms Lead at Kineara, highlights the importance of having quality support. “For me the main thing was going from a very small school where everyone knew each other to a school with hundreds of kids in each year; this was a bit intimidating at first! The key thing for me was that I had a close-knit group of friends that formed pretty early; they were my peers who I went to for support and we took each other through the whole secondary journey.”

“For pupils who are feeling shy or lonely, we often involve their peers by bringing them into our sessions to participate in group activities such as cooking and baking, which develops the child’s confidence and broadens their friendship circle,” says Gail, Kineara’s M2E lead.

3. Mental health and wellbeing

With 1 in 10 children and young people experiencing a mental health issue at any one time, it is important that we are clued up on the challenges of dealing with mental health, and how we as parents, teachers and practitioners can support pupils. What’s more, a recent Government Green Paper (2017) stated that appropriately trained teachers and school staff can make a difference in addressing mild to moderate mental health problems such as anxiety and conduct disorder, comparable to those achieved by trained therapists.

In delivering M2E, we’ve found that teachers and school staff can support pupils by  developing their understanding of mental health through relevant training such as MHFA courses, as well as receiving support with their own wellbeing. We have also seen how a school benefits from adopting a joined-up, wraparound ethos that focuses on wellbeing just as much as academic outcomes. As part of the culture, schools could consider activities that have been proven to help pupils manage high levels of stress such as mindfulness, yoga and relaxation/breathing exercises.

The people we work with have multi-entrenched needs, so our support must be intentional, therapeutic, adaptable. You’re not seeing a situation or a person as one-dimensional but seeing them in a holistic frame.”

After taking part in M2E, one pupil who was struggling to manage his temper said about the programme: “I enjoy having better relationships with people in school. I use my breathing techniques when someone is annoying me, and I listen to my relaxation before bed and no tech for one hour which helps my sleep.” In this case we found the main outcomes to be significant improvements in the pupils’ overall stress and behaviour, followed by an improvement in concentration and emotional awareness.

There are a plethora of online resources exploring different areas of mental health and wellbeing, from exam stress, eating disorders to responding to traumatic events. We have also written about the real impact of exam stress and why schools need to  focus on supporting mental health during this difficult time.

4. Hidden or complex challenges

For some, personal, hidden, or external challenges will take a toll on social and academic progress through secondary school, including the impact of educational inequality, a lack of adequate support for SEND pupils, family breakdown, or issues with housing. One way of supporting pupils through such a challenge is looking at the ‘whole-person,’ offering empathy and being emotionally available.

“The people we work with have multi-entrenched needs, so our support has to be intentional, therapeutic, adaptable,” says Maria, “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 etc. You’re not seeing a situation or a person as one-dimensional but seeing them in a holistic frame.”

Maria explains that not everyone offers holistic support, neither does everyone have to.” As a school, for example, it’s about recognising that there are other organisations that can support with intervention on a holistic level. It’s about partnership,” she says.

Learn more about our education services.

Posted by kineara in Education, Impact, Research
Practitioner insight: 5 ways to help a young person deal with exam results stress

Practitioner insight: 5 ways to help a young person deal with exam results stress

Having received their exam results, many students across the country will be experiencing feelings of joy and relief, exceeding their own expectations and looking forward to their next ventures. But for those who didn’t achieve as well, feelings of stress, disappointment and uncertainty will begin to loom over them. 

The evident pressure put on young people during exam season, be it from the school, family or themselves, can often impact greatly on pupil wellbeing in school and out. To this end, many schools have introduced, and are doing exceptional work in the run up to exam season – including mental health and wellbeing provision; from equipping students with effective tools and strategies to cope with exam stress, utilising online resources, and providing professional, specialist support for pupils and teachers alike.

But what can we do on an individual level to support a young person deal with the impact of results day?  Here are our five top tips from parents, young people and our own education support practitioners who each bring a unique perspective.

1. Celebrate the wins

Feelings of stress or disappointment are completely normal during this time, and though it’s important to give them space to come to terms with it all, you can help them remember how far they’ve come and what they’ve achieved in school and out.

Having delivered multiple careers related talks at schools and colleges, Tam, Comms Officer at Kineara, says: ”By talking about extra-curricular activities or achievements outside of school, you will be reminding them that there’s more to life than exams and that there’s no one route to success. It’s important to nurture the idea of celebrating small wins, whatever they may be, to maintain motivation and broaden your aspirations.”

2. Don’t add to the pressure

It’s important not to offer immediate judgement or even solutions, rather give them time to accept their feelings, whatever they are.

“I think the most important message is that no emotion is ‘good’ or ‘bad’, it’s what you do with it that counts,” says former Motivate to Educate (M2E) practitioner Roz. “Letting a child know that we all feel angry, worried or sad sometimes and letting them accept these feelings without judgment is a real gift. It’s so important to support a child in being able to talk about their feelings by making conversations with emotion-words part of daily life.”

3. Help them explore their strengths and individuality

In delivering M2E, one of the key learnings for our practitioners has been in adapting their support approach to cultivate the unique strengths of the individual pupil. This is done through active listening and enabling the young person to make decisions and empower themselves.

“If one tried their best in a particular exam and still didn’t do so well, consider what their strengths are perhaps in a different subject,” says Elle, Head Tutor at EDS Education. “It’s not the end of the world and young people shouldn’t feel pressured to do well in a particular subject which their parents might expect them to. For example, I have a student who is great at maths but not so much in Science. It’s about finding your strengths are and celebrating them.”

Zak, a Youth Panellist at YoungMinds, adds that it’s crucial not to compare students to their peers: “Someone may graduate at 21, but can’t find a job until 25. Someone else may graduate a year or two later – perhaps due to taking a gap year or retaking a year – and then find a job immediately upon graduating. Everyone is on their own journey.”

4. Talk to them about their feelings

Our practitioners use a wide variety of tools in tackling worry and anxiety in pupils, such as the use of bubble wrap, practicing breathing and relaxation techniques, tailor-made emotion cards and daily post-it notes for both the child and parent to express how they are feeling.

M2E practitioner Davinia says: “Art making has been a useful tool for helping children access and express difficult memories. Using materials that allow a child or young person to make mess, should they want to, creates a freedom to access these memories and to begin to make sense of them.”

Roz adds, “Talk about how characters feel in films and books, why and what they could do about it. This way a child or young person will learn not to judge their emotions but to acknowledge and express them usefully.” Whether it’s through art or a different creative outlet, help a young person explore their feelings and let them know you’re there for them.

5. Encourage them to stay positive and motivated

Sometimes it helps to step back from it all and be hopeful about the future, no matter the outcome. This may involve helping them reflect on key learnings or what could have gone better, but more importantly, encouraging them to celebrate and plan some fun activities they can look forward to.

Head tutor at EDS Education, Elle, was pleased to find so many of her students receiving high grades in their exams, however, one student didn’t get the exact grade she wanted. “The advice I would give is not to be disappointed and understand that everything is a learning process. You need to think and reflect on your grades. Ask yourself why did this happen? What could you have done differently to better your grade? Did you plan your revision timetable? Once you’ve answered these kind of questions, you can take your next step in further education.”

What’s more, studies show that positive mindset yields a higher sense of wellbeing and fulfilment, as well as practising self-determination and having a sense of control over one’s life. Director of Kineara, Maria Morgan, says: “There’s nothing stronger than recognising and accepting where you are to move forward.”

Posted by kineara
Motivate to Educate: End of year reflections

Motivate to Educate: End of year reflections

It’s the end of term and time to showcase another brilliant set of M2Es delivered by our dedicated, school-based practitioners. A big thank you to our partner schools, families and pupils who’ve made it all possible!

Primary pupils in Harrington Hill and Redlands Primary School celebrated after taking part in Motivate to Educate, a 15-week intensive and tailored intervention that aims to build confidence, motivation and wellbeing among pupils.

The pupils at Harrington Hill took part in a certificate ceremony led by Kineara’s school-based practitioner, Davinia, and attended by their parents and carers, whilst pupils at Redlands celebrated with a picnic and family activities delivered by practitioners, Gail and Rujia. They were the latest of over 60 local primary school pupils and their families to take part in M2E, which so far has achieved an 86% increase in emotional wellbeing and confidence among pupils.

Harrington Hill

Harrington Hill Primary in Hackney, East London, has been one of Kineara’s strongest partnerships in the last few years and is a testament to the school’s dedication to care for its pupils and the school community. This year, our partnership has led to us being shortlisted as a finalist at the Education Resource Award 2019.

Having worked with four families in our latest cohort, Davinia said: “The school had various concerns about the pupils, ranging from disruptive behaviour and emotional instability to lack of confidence and issues in the home which inflicted on their studies and wellbeing.”

Davinia utilised a wide variety of tools in tackling worry and anxiety in pupils, such as the use of bubble wrap, tailor-made emotion cards and daily post-it notes for both the child and parent to express how they are feeling. “In this cohort, art making has been a useful tool for helping children access and express difficult memories. Using materials that allow a child to make mess, should they want to, creates a freedom to access these memories and to begin to make sense of them.”

Regarding the support, Harrington Hill have said: “We could not provide the much-needed level of support we do for our whole school community without Kineara’s M2E. Their work places the child completely at the centre and nothing is too much trouble. We can honestly say we’d be lost without the service, as would our pupils and their families.”

Redlands

Redlands Primary in Tower Hamlets, East London, has been another fantastic collaboration between ourselves, the school and the families we’ve worked with. Over the last year we’ve supported 15 pupils and their families, including 10 families who attended our drop-in, three parent workshops, and we’ve also provided therapeutic counselling for three families who needed more in-depth mental health support.

Talib*, one of the pupils from the latest cohort, was referred to M2E after concerns about challenging behaviour at home which was affecting his engagement and progress in school. As a young boy who has autism, the school was keen to provide extra support for Talib and the whole family in understanding autism and developing effective tools and strategies to support his wellbeing.

Through a variety of 1:1, group and parent support sessions, practical and therapeutic exercises, Gail worked with Talib to develop his emotional awareness, wellbeing and understanding of autism, so that he can build on his strengths and be proud of who he is. Living in a small overcrowded flat with another family, Gail also supported Talib’s family in completing a health assessment about their living situation, which led them onto a priority band for a new home. Recently, we found out that the family will be moving into a new 3-bedroom flat – a great achievement which we hope will not only provide space for Talib to grow and express himself freely, but improve the wellbeing of the whole family.

Reflecting on the case Gail said: “What worked extremely well was the support from the school and their drive to keep pushing for Talib and the whole family to succeed. Giving the child space to express how they’re feeling and showing parents different ways of changing their responses and routines at home, can make a real impact in improving wellbeing and enhancing positive relationships.”

Our impact

So far, we’ve delivered a total of 63 M2E programmes with three school partners and we’ve improved emotional wellbeing and confidence in 86% of cases. In addition, we’ve seen a 69% increase in family wellbeing and communication, supported 76 drop-in attendees, and addressed 29 different issues from housing to mental health and wellbeing.

Each intervention is tailored to specific need and, overall, families we work with say their children’s wellbeing, communication, and emotional awareness significantly improve after taking part in the programme. Teachers notice improved behaviour and engagement in the classroom, and our pupils experience real improvements in stress, anxiety, motivation and confidence, which impacts positively on their education.

M2E will continue to be delivered to pupils at Harrington Hill Primary in the new school year, with additional wraparound services that include drop in support for parents and for school staff.

We are currently able to partner with schools in the Greater London area. To learn more about M2E or partner with us, contact: info@kineara.co.uk

Read the M2E press release.

*Note: Names have been changed to protect pupil’s identity.

Posted by kineara in Community, Education, Impact