Category Archives: Health and Wellbeing

“What Causes Wellness?” ~ Sir Harry Burns

This an incredibly important question in todays society. “What causes wellness?”  Sir Harry Burns discusses this at the TEDx event in Glasgow.

This was actually an incredibly interesting video to watch and listen to, it has made me think about what we really think wellness is. For most of my life I have been told that keeping myself well is about maintaining a healthy diet, staying healthy, not smoking and not drinking excessively, and Burn explains that this is near enough the same view that is held by the majority of people in our society. Although our health is important to our wellness, Burn discusses that there are so many other factors that impact on our wellness.

Burn discusses that wellness and our well-being is not only about our health, but also about social factors, and how these impact on our way of thinking and our general outlook on life. Burn reflects on several theorists and draws together ideas that they have, discussing how wellness is linked to resilience, the ability to flourish, having a purpose in life, positive experiences in early childhood and positive connections. I feel that these are all really good points, and that there is slowly becoming an acceptance in society that being well is not only about being physically well, but also mentally well. We are slowly understanding that social factors also impact on our wellbeing.

Some of the research that Burn’s discussed was incredibly interesting. I was particularly interested by the fact that 70% of children who have suffered from child abuse, or grown up in a family with alcohol and drug users, will follow a similar path to their parents. While the other 30% of these children will come out of their childhood and be successful in later life. Burns discusses that the reason these children manage to get out of this cycle is because of their ability to develop resilience – these children are outgoing, positive, bright, have close relationships with others and get support from the community around them.  I feel that here the key point is that 30% of the children developed resilience, they were able to get out of the mindset of not being able to do something, and used the environment around them to try and be the best that they could be.

I feel as teachers it is incredibly important for us to understand the social factors that may be having an impact on the children in our classes. It is also important that we know how to help children that may have social factors that are negatively impacting them. We can help children talk about things that they may not normally be able to talk about,  build resilience, give them a purpose and help them develop relationships with others. For some of the children that come into school, this may be the only time that they get the opportunity to develop and work on these things, therefore, we need to seize the opportunity, and the best way to do this, is probably through health and well-being in the curriculum. Through health and well-being we can teach children how to manage feelings and emotions, we can encourage them to socialise with others, but, we can also encourage them to live a healthy lifestyle.

It is incredibly important for us as teachers to consider wellness and the wellbeing of children in our classroom, we need to remember that they are not just our students but they are also people. These little people that come into our classroom have so much potential and we need to help them in every way we can. We should be giving these children the essential skills they need for life through the core curriculum but we also need to teach them how to be the best they can be. Helping them understand that sometimes in life things will go wrong but it’s okay, and when things do go wrong that we can build ourselves back up from this.

After reflecting on this video and previous health and wellbeing lectures, I feel that health and wellbeing should be one of our core subjects in the curriculum. This subject can allow children to think of themselves in all aspects of their learning and their lives. It can encourage them to be the best they can be by building resilience and teaching them ways to manage emotions, and deal with factors that may impact on our lives. Wellness and wellbeing should be a core teaching point for teachers, and should be considered not just in the specific subject area but across the whole curriculum.



Health and Wellbeing Learning Goals

For my Health and Wellbeing module this semester we have been set the task of setting ourselves learning goals of things we want to have a more in depth knowledge of.  I have chosen my learning goals because I feel that they can impact the classroom greatly, and as a teacher it is critical that I understand why children might feel the way they do, as well as why they might act in certain ways. These are my learning goals:

  1. To understand how to best manage and explore emotions in the classroom.
  2. To try and understand how outside factors can impact on a child’s wellbeing within the classroom, and how this can affect their learning.
  3. To understand how the different areas of health and wellbeing come together, and the effect that it can have on the learner.

I will be reflecting on these goals in my first week, sixth week and tenth week of the elective.

Week 1 reflections

  1. I feel that at this current point that I would know how to manage emotions in the classroom, but wouldn’t necessarily know the best way to start a discussion about emotions. If a child was upset, or angry, excited about something I feel that I would be able to help them explore this feeling. I would sit down with the child, use a calming, reassuring tone and talk them through how they are feeling, ask them simple questions and stay calm throughout it all. However, I wouldn’t know how to start talking about feelings with the pupils in my class, on placement in first year I did witness and deliver a bounceback lesson for the pupils, but this was all completely scripted, and without it, I wouldn’t have known where to start. I feel that it can be hard for children – and adults – to talk about their feelings and for this reason I don’t think that at the moment I know how best to start the discussion. I feel that this is a crucial skill that I need to develop for the children in my class as talking about our feelings and exploring our emotions can make a lot of things easier to deal with, and could in turn make the classroom a happier and healthier environment for the children to be in.
  2. I feel that we talk about how outside factors can impact on children a lot but we never sit down and think about how these factors affect the child’s learning and how it can affect their wellbeing whilst in class. Throughout the degree we have spoken about how family structure, poverty and several other factors can affect a child, but we never really get into the details about how it can really affect the child. I understand that because every child is going to be going through something different the way in which they react within the classroom, and their attitude towards learning will vary greatly. However, I feel it is incredibly important for us to talk about the things that may occur in certain scenarios. After watching the ‘Nurture Room’ documentary, I feel that I understand slightly better what sort of things these children may go through, such as anger and lashing out, or refusal to do work. But we never address this in our learning at the university. As trainee teachers I feel that this is incredibly important for us to understand and what we should do in the circumstances where a child may behave in this way. I would like to explore this in more depth than just a brief discussion on what we might see.
  3. The experiences and outcomes for health and wellbeing are rather broad and cover a range of different aspects of health and wellbeing, and as of yet I don’t understand how these different aspects can be brought together. A lot of health and wellbeing relates to emotional and social wellbeing, but there is also the part of health and wellbeing that looks at a child’s physical health. From personal experience I know that my physical health has a massive impact on my emotional health, but I don’t understand how we could tie these into one another within the classroom. I feel that it is extremely important that children understand the effect your physical wellbeing can have on your mental wellbeing. There is a lot of research saying that physical activity can impact on a child’s ability to learn and that it can help put them in the mindset to learn, things like the mile a day challenge. However, when I was on placement in first year the mile a day challenge seemed more like a reason to just get the children out of the class, it didn’t seem like the children understood why they were doing it, they just knew that they had to do it, same applies with P.E. in the classroom. Surely if we want the children in the class to be both emotionally and physically healthy then we should be taking the time to explain to them why we do things like P.E. and the mile a day challenges? I would like to further explore this throughout the module in order to better understand how we can tie these two parts of the curriculum together.