When we consider children’s wellbeing, we are looking at their overall physical, emotional, social, and spiritual wellbeing. For children to establish an overall wellbeing, they need to have a strong state of health, happiness, and security. Each area of a child’s wellbeing is directly affected and dependent on the other. This means, for children to have a higher state of wellbeing, children require access to strong partnerships, participate in physical activity on a regular basis, and have adequate nutrition.
The Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on our normal way of life, including the emotional drain that it is having on ourselves. However, we also need to be aware of how it is affecting children’s wellbeing. Currently, children will be feeling several different emotions, including confusion, fear, worry and sadness. If you reflect on the last twelve months, their lives have changed considerably, therefore it is important to consider how we as educators can provide ongoing support to children. Children’s emotional wellbeing is just as important as their physical health. By supporting children’s mental health, it encourages children to develop their resilience, which will be vital for them to cope with challenges throughout their lives.
So, how do we support children through such a rollercoaster of emotions? How can we encourage children to share their thoughts and feelings? If there is ever a time to be able to sit and listen to children – now is the time. It is important that educators have ongoing communication with family members to make sure that vital information is passed on. Collaborative relationship is paramount to build strong foundations and consistency for children’s wellbeing.
Encouraging a holistic wellbeing, requires educators to be understanding and address children’s physical, behavioural, social, and cognitive needs. One way this can be achieved is through allowing children to explore through play-based activities, which can either be direct or indirect experiences. When children partake in movement, whether it be spontaneous or structured, it allows children to advance their skills and abilities at their own pace. This encourages children to engage further with their physical activities, and social skills as they negotiate and develop conversations with peers or educators. This will not only support children to work towards optimal health, but also contribute to their confidence through having the freedom to choose the activities that they engage in.
Other ways to support children’s wellbeing, includes slowing down and not rushing. This is especially important during transitions. Transitions are a significant part of a child’s day and provides opportunities for educators to build relationships with individual children, by nurturing their emotional and social development.
Above all, have fun and be creative. Children need to have numerous opportunities during their day to laugh, smile, and be happy. By having spontaneous joyful moments, educators are building a trusting and honest relationship with children. Which will encourage them to communicate about what might be concerning them.
~ Elise Waghorn (PhD Candidate)
Victorian based facilitator - Phoenix support for Educators