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As schools settle into a new academic year as part of the next new normal, face-to-face learning is now back at the forefront of school life. However, schools and districts are now facing an even greater strain as they seek to meet diverse and ever-changing academic and health needs for students, staff and teachers.
Why is it Important?
As the pandemic persists it is important to enforce healthy wellbeing and activeness within the school environment, not just for students but for teachers and members of staff.
During the pandemic a lot of parents have been worried about the impact that it has on their child’s mental health and now as students go back to school it is imperative that a positive mindset and outlook is encouraged.
There are numerous ways to improve your school’s healthy outlook, we have accumulated some tips we think are great to use and adapt!
Breakfast clubs are a great way to help students at your school stay healthy, alert and ready to learn. With healthy snacks such as breakfast bars, porridge and fruit children can be also, encouraged to mix with their friends and peers, improving wellbeing, attendance and performance throughout the day.
In addition, by reducing the stress of the morning routine for families and children, breakfast clubs can help improve behaviour. Children have up to an hour before school starts, so they can relax, play, eat, exercise and socialize, all without the rush of getting to school.
For staff and teachers, this might need a little prep-work and will need a number of teachers to be available in the morning to host the breakfast club. However, this can also encourage more teachers to engage with their students before school starts.
Extra-Curricular Activities can help boost students’ confidence to interact socially with society and others. Which in turn, extends their social networks and provide them with new skills and abilities. Above all, they offer an important space to have fun and relax away from the pressures of school work improving wellbeing and promoting a healthy lifestyle. (find out more here)
The real power of these “Brain Breaks” in the day is that they allow the time for the brain to relax in-between concentration during class, and encode new information into long-term memory (encoding new memories). Otherwise, the “working memory” function of the brain’s hippocampus gets overwhelmed by information and isn’t locked into memory.
The activity, restoration of attention, increased blood and oxygen flow and lower risks for chronic diseases are the corollary benefits.
To make “Brain Breaks” fun use videos like the one down below to not just engage your students in time spent away from school work but also in some physical activity.
Daily Mile/ Walk 2 School
It is a well-known fact that exercise and physical activity can aid in maintaining good behavioural and physical health. Many children within Key Stages do not get the recommended amount of moderate-vigorous exercise per day (60 mins).
- Why is this important?
- Regular physical activity in childhood and adolescence improves strength and endurance, helps build healthy bones and muscles, helps control weight, improves cognitive function and reduces risk of depression.
- When youth are regularly physically active, they increase their chances for a healthy adulthood and reduce their risk for chronic diseases such as diabetes or hypertension.
- Schools are uniquely suited to help students achieve the 60 minutes or more of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity daily recommended. NHS
Up-Beat Morning Routine
- A popular teacher-approved classroom morning routine is writing a morning message on the board, this is a simple way to welcome students while developing some of their skills. Try and take this morning message and implement some topics your class is working on to get their minds thinking.
- For example, start writing the date and what you have planned for the day with some punctuation and spelling errors.
- Once the message is copied, students can gather and read the message together. You can call on students to point out errors and discuss the mistakes, and talk about the plans for the day ahead.
- An effective way to set a positive tone for the school day is to have a morning meeting. It’s a simple way to touch base with students while building on a sense of community. A soon as students put away their belongings, they can come and sit down for “circle time” or class discussion. You can inform your class that they can discuss what they did the night before, what you have planned for the day and discuss any problems or concerns anyone is having within the classroom.
- By starting the day this way with a morning meeting can make your students more relaxed, calm and ready to listen and learn.
Question of the Day
- For many, the “Question of the Day” may come under the morning meeting. You can ask questions to your class like “What is the best thing about a friend?” then let students take turns answering.
- You can adapt the “Question of the Day” to when your students come into the classroom at the start of the day, write down a question on the board and instruct your class to write down their answers in their planners or journals. To make the questions more personal to your students each student can come up with a question and take turns to write it on the board in the morning instead this highlights a sense of community more and challenges your class’s imagination, thinking and writing skills.
- Packets have always been an effective method for reviewing information learned in class and a great way to start the day. Morning packets usually contain a variety of quick review activities that students can master independently.
- When your students have settled, they can complete their morning packet until the bell rings or when a sufficient amount of time has passed. Through, continual daily work review, students can master the essential skills needed to learn.
For many classrooms across the country, morning yoga ensures a positive start to the school day. When students are anxious or stressed it is harder for them to learn. Yoga provides a way to relieve stress and gain focus. By teaching simple yoga poses each morning can help sustain students’ attention while relieving some pent-up stress.
Children tend to respond positively to structure, and having a predictable classroom routine will show students what’s expected of them each and every day. As long as it’s carefully taught and modelled, you can ensure that your students will learn in an efficient and productive manner.