Today marks the start of Children’s Mental Health Week and the theme of this year’s campaign is #growingtogether.
Recent figures from charity Place2Be, which runs the week, show that one in six children and young people have a diagnosable mental health problem, and many more struggle with challenges from bullying to bereavement.
Schools have a vital role to play when it comes to supporting and managing children’s social, emotional and mental health needs. But teachers must fulfil this huge responsibility while also delivering the curriculum and ensuring all children achieve academically. So, what can they reasonably do?
The answer is nurture.
Nurture can transform children’s lives. It is improving the life chances of some of the UK’s most vulnerable children, but it also helps those who have mild to moderate social, emotional and mental health needs, and keep them well hidden.
Nurture allows children to connect with others, to build important relationships, and to develop a sense of self-worth. It helps them learn, play and communicate – and it is enabling children to thrive. We know this because teachers and parents tell us so. They tell us that their classrooms are calmer, their children are happier, and that their schools are more successful because of nurture.
The nurturing approach offers a range of opportunities for children and young people to engage with missing early nurturing experiences, giving them the social and emotional skills to do well at school and with peers, develop their resilience and their capacity to deal more confidently with the trials and tribulations of life, for life.
It can mean a specific set of activities for certain groups of children, or it can be developed as a whole-school approach that prioritises wellbeing.
The concept of nurture is rooted in attachment theory and neuroscience. It highlights the importance of social environments and their significant influence on social and emotional skills, as well as wellbeing and behaviour. A nurturing ethos in an education environment is empathetic, structured and fair for all.
This week, we’re taking the opportunity to talk about the benefits of nurture and show education professionals how they can help ensure all children flourish and learn.
Find out more about how your school can integrate a nurturing approach to education on our website.