Supporting student and family wellbeing 

By Monique Alexander, School Psychologist: 

Kilvington teachers have been working with Professor Lea Waters this year in strengthening student wellbeing practices through a Visible Wellbeing approach.

Visible Wellbeing aims to build staff and student awareness of how our thoughts and feelings influence everything from the quality of our sleep to the quality of our relationships, and that simple positive actions can make a big difference to our mental health and overall wellbeing.

We know that wellbeing is foundational for learning, and this is truer than ever as we continue to adjust to learning and connecting remotely.

Our staff will continue to work with Lea in fostering student wellbeing approaches through strength-based teaching, managing emotions to enhance learning, and developing positive relationships at school.

We also wanted to take this opportunity to share some of Lea’s complementary family resources.

To build wellbeing in the home environment, Lea suggests focusing on six key areas; which she summarises under the acronym of SEARCH:

Strengths

Strengths are positive personal characteristics, including personality traits, psychological abilities, moral qualities and talents, that feel natural and enjoyable to use.

Emotional management

Being present with one’s emotions and being able to identify, understand and manage one’s emotions (ie. reduce negative emotions and increase positive emotions).

Attention and Awareness

Attention is our ability to focus, whether on inner aspects of self, such as emotions and physical sensations, or on external stimuli (eg. the teacher’s lesson in a classroom). Awareness refers to the ability to pay attention to a stimulus as it occurs.

Relationships

A child/teen’s social skills play an important role in allowing him/her to develop nourishing relationships with others. Understanding and managing our relationships with others is a key pathway to wellbeing.

Coping

Having the resilience to cope with adversity is an essential life skill. Coping can be thought of as being able to balance the demands of life with the resources we have to manage those demands, and being able to bounce back when we get thrown off balance.

Habits and Goals 

Habits are those automatic processes that we do without even thinking about them – they can be both beneficial and detrimental to our wellbeing. Knowing how to break bad, and create good, habits can help us progress towards our goals. When we set goals it can provide us with a sense of purpose, mastery and direction in life.

You might like to choose one area to focus on as a family, or pick and mix ideas that work for you. We would love to hear your experiences in trying the Visible Wellbeing practices, and what works best for you and your children at this time.

Lea has also created a series of short videos on how to cope with the Coronavirus (COVID-19):

  1. Savouring
  2. Gratitude
  3. Mindfulness
  4. Kindness
  5. Dealing with cabin fever
  6. Exercise and endorphins during lockdown

Your child also has access to a range of short gratitude, empathy and mindfulness-based activities in their Kilvington diary, as developed by The Resilience Project.

The Resilience Project team has also recently created a mobile app that has programs designed for primary and secondary school students, as well as adults of all ages, to promote resilience and wellbeing through positive daily practices.

For Parents Juggling Work, Family (and Everything Else)

Here is a free guide for parents from Adaptability at Work offering tips and tricks on how to juggle work and family life in the time of COVID-19.

Blessings of Life

These short meditative films invite us to experience the blessings available in everyday life. Narrated by renowned Benedictine monk, David Steindl-Rast, it helps us to remember what is alive and life-giving – the very fact of life is a blessing.

More Resources – The ISV Parents Website

Independent Schools Victoria (ISV) has a free resource called The Parents’ Website.

It features expert advice, ideas and articles for parents. Some helpful posts to check out include: Our super list of great ideas for kids at home, How students can use time at home to surge ahead academically, and Talking to young people about the coronavirus.