The evidence-based 5 Ways to Wellbeing presents a useful framework of 5 keys to maintaining positive mental health. It’s been the foundational framework for Public Health England since the NEF released their scientific papers in 2008 and 2011*. And it’s a framework that works well for adults and children, schools and workplaces. See this NHS website for more information.
These 5 keys to positive mental health are Giving, Connecting, Active, Learning and Mindful. For their Mental Health & Wellbeing School Workshops, A-life have devised the acronym GetCALM to help children remember the 5 keys, ensuring they are more able to incorporate them into their daily lives.
Let’s look at Giving - research shows that giving and being kind (to ourselves and others) can improve our mental health & wellbeing by:
- Helping us to connect with others
- Giving people a feeling of purpose and self-worth
- Creating positive feelings
We can give our time, resources, abilities... People all have very different talents and gifts but this is something that we can all choose to practice. It can be small acts of kindness that make a huge difference to ours and other people’s lives.
Ideas for children:
- Inviting another child to join in your game at break time
- Helping the teacher clear up
- Helping with jobs at home
Ideas for adults:
- Volunteering in the local community
- Asking friends, family or colleagues how they are (and really listening to their answer!)
- Spending time with others
- Offering to help someone in need by dropping in a meal or doing some DIY
At A-life they are passionate about making sure children from a young age (and their teachers & parents) understand & can apply these 5 keys to their own lives & really thrive. They have designed online & in-school workshops that bring to life these 5 Ways to Wellbeing, using the acronym GetCALM to help children remember them. The workshops are hands-on and interactive, delivering the information in an age-appropriate & super engaging way that reaches children where they are, grabs their attention & sinks deep into their being. (Visit a-life.co.uk for more information on their workshops).
Here at Playforce, we are a big believer in the power of Giving in the playground, as well as the potential outdoor space has for improving and maintaining positive mental health. We spoke to Claire, Playforce Marketing Manager about this.
“We were one of the first playground companies to start measuring the impact outdoor play, and playground development, had on children’s lives. We started seeing statistics, over a twelve-month period, such as 43% of schools reporting a significant improvement in behaviour, 36% noting a positive improvement in attitude to learning, 42% noting an improvement in wellbeing and 54% seeing an improvement in happiness, as a result of changes to outdoor space.
“We work with all of our schools to really understand what they want to achieve from their outdoor education and play, before making any recommendations. Creating areas that develop team working skills, as well as those that are designed to reduce bullying and antisocial behaviour, are frequent objectives. And, over the last year, we’ve noticed an increase in the number of schools looking to use outdoor space more creatively to support wellbeing and positive mental health amongst children, as they’ve missed out on this sort of activity during lockdowns.
“Importantly, promoting the GetCALM ethos isn’t limited to those schools with huge amounts of space and large budgets. When we’re working with schools to develop playgrounds that support Giving, for example, we might consider introducing products that are designed for group play and learning - such as our Solar Powered Stop Clock, sports playground markings, Drop Spots and Grow Planters. Those with a bit more space might want to consider products designed for imaginative play, such as woodland towers or active trails. But if we’re trying to encourage turn-taking then something like our MiniBeast Exploration Table or Flow Wall would be good.
“Giving isn’t just about play products, though. Helping the teacher to tidy away is a great way to develop skills and that’s why we have developed a range of storage such as our Storage Bench that keeps things neat but is also sized for little hands to get involved.
“Finally, we work really hard not to limit ourselves to only supporting the wellbeing of children. The adults are important too - whether that’s teachers or parents - as well as their interaction with the children. We might look to include a Shelter or some Bench Seating that can help to encourage conversation and looking out for each other, outdoors.”
Together we are helping children to GetCALM!