At Whitehall Park School we are committed to creating a positive environment which supports physical and emotional health and wellbeing. We are proud to announce that we have received a Healthy Schools London Bronze Award that recognises the efforts made to ensure our school community strive for health lives! To achieve this, we had to review our practise in promoting and improving children’s health and wellbeing. We want to share with you the ways in which we do this at Whitehall Park School.
Healthy Schools Page
We have come a long way in our journey towards achieving our healthy schools gold award with our key focus on Mental health and emotional wellbeing. We would like to share with you the impact this has had and provide you with some useful information about how we have introduced mindfulness at Whitehall Park School.
Children’s mental health and wellbeing is of the greatest importance to us and this in itself is a crucial and an important indicator of whether children flourish both in their learning, relationships and in developing the skills they need to strive for their goals in the ever changing world that we live in today.
What is wellbeing?
“The government defines wellbeing as a positive physical, social and mental state” which encompasses factors such as feeling good about ourselves and developing coping strategies to deal with the ups and downs – such as coping with challenges and making the most out of opportunities.
Our aim at Whitehall Park is that mental health is talked about in the same way we would talk about our physical health and this is something we are dedicated to achieving. We have done this through:
Building in reflection time (mindful minutes) every day into our timetables.
By constantly promoting and referring to each of our school values which underpin everything we do – in assemblies and in every part of the curriculum we teach (respect, independence, innovation, resilience, compassion and aspiration).
Developing pupil’s emotive language as a focus when talking about our mental health.
Having discussions about emotions and asking pupils ‘how are you feeling today?’ as this develops an understanding of the various emotions each individual can feel at that current moment.
Discussions that also promote active listening, attention and speaking skills so it allows pupils to see things from another perspective and develop empathy for others.
Developing pupils independence by creating a toolkit of bounce back strategies and coping skill set they can use every day to help them thrive in their school and home life.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a method of training the mind to be present. This means not only paying attention to what is happening in the present moment, but also doing so with an attitude of kindness, acceptance and non-judgement.
Our whole school focus this year has been introducing mindfulness into our school day. Looking back to when we began this journey, a small number of pupils had heard the word before but for many, this was a very new concept. Presently, pupils in every class would be able to talk about mindfulness, why we use it and how it might help them. This has been introduced during transitions, assemblies and during a short mindfulness sessions in class. This might be focusing on their breath, mind and body.
It is not only the pupils that are involved, parents have also taken part in a mindfulness and mind set workshop. They discovered that mindfulness can be useful to all of us. During a mindful eating exercise parents experienced mindfulness for themselves. Sessions like this allows us to open up the conversation about how we could try and be more mindful throughout our day.
Mindfulness allows you to step back from your reactions and observe them; it is like a mental muscle, and you can strengthen this ability by making it part of your daily life. It therefore has the potential to be a particularly powerful skill if used in the classroom and introduced from a young age.
Mindfulness Day/Time to Talk day
Each year at Whitehall Park, we take part in the national time to talk day. This aims to get as many people as possible talking about mental health. Our pupils have absolutely loved this special day. This year the children enjoyed taking part in yoga sessions, mindful eating exercises and drama workshops.
Ideas for at home:
1 minute breathing exercise:
Find a comfortable place to sit with your eyes closed or focused on an object of choice.
Focus your attention on your breathing.
When a thought or feeling pops into your head, accept it, but allow it to float away, you could imagine it as a cloud passing by.
Focus your attention to the rise and fall of your chest, the feeling of the air as it turns from an in-breath into an out-breathe.
A Mindful Walk to school – Using your senses to discover new things on your walk.
Reflect on your day! – 3 things I’m grateful for.
Mini Body Scan – Imagine a butterfly landing on each part of your body, as it lands, relax and notice how that part of the body is feeling.
Learning about the brain:
Pupils at Whitehall Park love learning about the brain! Knowing about the different parts of the brain and how they work.
Children learn about the different chemicals in our brains and how neurones connect when learning something new.
This year we have focused on teaching pupils about the importance of a Growth Mindset. Pupils are taught to understand that when they are learning a new concept, their neurones are trying to make new connections. This is when we feel our brains really stretching!
Amygdala (The Guard Dog)
Our amygdala keeps us safe by reacting quickly if we are in danger. The amygdala is the emotional part of the brain. When we are angry or upset, our amygdala can stop us from making sensible decisions.
Prefrontal Cortex or PFC (The Wise Owl)
Our PFC helps us to think, learn and make good choices.
Hippocampus (Memory Saver)
Our hippocampus stores all our memories. When something happens to make us smile, our hippocampus will save that happy memory!
Growth Mindsets, Mindfulness and building resilience:
Our Mindset plays a big part in determining how far we go and our individual successes. We can improve positivity through practice and hard work. Mindfulness provides techniques that allow individuals to pause after a quick reaction and to create space for a purposeful response. It is also about changing the way we perceive challenges, for example ‘I can’t do that’ can be changed to ‘I can’t do that yet!’ This minor adaptation allows promotes and optimistic approach to learning.
If you would like to find out more information about growth mindsets, please visit our growth mind set page.
If you would like to find out more about our mental health focus, here are some useful websites which will offer more information: