Here at AJS we actively support and promote the positive mental health and well-being of the children.
Art for Wellbeing
Our art wellbeing pastoral assistant is Cat Cator. Cat runs afternoon sessions for both small groups of children and for individuals.
The sessions vary widely in focus, depending on the needs of the group or individual. Sessions provide a nurturing 'safe space' where children can talk openly and establish a close relationship with a trusted adult.
Cat supports children with a wide variety of needs, including mental health, social communication, friendship problems, anxiety, emotional regulation, family breakup or bereavement.
The sessions can include:
- sensory experiences and messy play
- outdoor learning
- art and craft projects
- 'Art start' sessions where parents and children work together on a project
- siblings support group (for children with siblings who have complex or high needs SEN)
- explicit teaching of social skills (e.g. active listening skills, turn taking, problem solving) through projects
If you wish to find out more, please contact the school SENCO.
Our lovely PAT dogs come into school once a week and the children read aloud to the dog for 15 minutes. Sessions are supported by a registered volunteer and a TA from the school.
Research shows that young people can become nervous and stressed when reading to others in a group. When reading to a PAT dog, they become less stressed, less self-conscious and more confident, as the dogs are non-judgmental. PAT dogs provide comfort, encourage positive social behaviours, enhance self-esteem, motivate speech and inspire young people to have fun when reading!
Children are selected by the class teachers in discussion with the SENCO and sessions usually run for half a term.
'Connections' Social/Emotional groups
'Connections' groups run every day in the afternoon. The sessions are run by Mr Leek and Ms Gibbs and they aim to support and develop well-being, self-esteem and to develop emotional literacy.
The sessions are fun and informal and there is a maximum group size of 10 (with 2 adults supporting). Emphasis is placed on respect and good listening and in every session the children are given the opportunity to share how they are feeling or any news they have with the group. Children can share any issues they may be struggling with, including dealing with changes, relationships, or difficult emotions such as anxiety and anger. Through a range of activities we aim to promote pro-social behaviours and develop qualities such as optimism, resilience, motivation and impulse control.
We focus on building strong and trusting relationships with the children so that they feel safe, valued and able to share their ideas and feelings.
Sessions also include a snack and a drink. We encourage good manners and a number of the children really like to help hand round the food and drink as well as helping to clear up! On occasions, our Year 6's act as 'Connections ambassadors' - they come and help to run the groups for the younger children.
Some of the groups have spent time doing activities outside in the small garden area and planting. We tend to tailor the activities to meet the needs of each group, once we know the children and their needs.
Our children said...
Yr 3 child "I can talk to Ms G and Mr L about stuff that is going on. It is a privilege to come."
Y3 child "Connections has really helped me with my feelings because I can talk about my feelings a little easier now and explain how I feel. I am a little more confident in approaching people to play with me."
Yr4 child "I now understand that all sorts of feelings are normal and Connections is helping me to deal with feelings I find tricky."
Yr 5 child "I really enjoyed our outside sessions, l feel happy and nice outside ."
Y5 child "Connections has helped me to understand better how to do the right thing and I have been in trouble less."
Yr 6 child "I am encouraged to be sensible and make the right choices.Doing this in a small group is reflected in class - most of the time!"
Y6 child "I like to talk about what makes me upset and I feel that in Connections I can do this, which is helpful to me. It is good to talk in a small group."
"X is now able to contribute in class and make relevant comments on the subject in hand."