Solihull School has extended its wellbeing and personal development programme to include pupils as young as three.
Whilst junior pupils (aged 7–11) in the prep school were introduced to wellbeing in the curriculum many years ago, Alice House pupils (aged 3–7) will now benefit from the programme, as well as lessons about living life well and resiliency. This includes pupils in nursery, reception, infant one and infant two.
Solihull has created The Alice House Guide to Living Life Well, which features illustrations of animals the children will recognise from the school’s Scuffle Goes to School book. Both have been hand drawn by local artist Laura Adkins.
The three main areas – happy living, engaged living and meaningful living – have many sub-components which are being explored in greater depth in assemblies with stories, video clips, music and bespoke illustrations. The themes are explored further throughout the school day and more formally in lessons.
The school has adapted its resiliency lessons for junior pupils for younger pupils, having been unable to find any available externally. The lessons began in the summer term and Solihull is in the process of adapting its junior growth mindset lessons as well.
Mark Penney, head of Solihull Preparatory School, has been presenting weekly assemblies to introduce the ideas to pupils. Three members of staff in the prep school have been trained by the Penn Resilience Program, and many more are experienced in teaching resilience.
Penney explained: “The great paradox of education remains – we offer children lessons in pretty much every area of learning, except how to flourish and be happy in life. We’d like to right that wrong and to positively influence our children’s personal development from the earliest possible age.
“We’re keen to engender, for example, resilient thinking, positive self-talk, mindful responses and gratitude because we know they provide wellbeing boosts and we don’t want to leave this to chance.”
Penney said although materials about wellbeing for young children are growing, he could not find resources available that pulled together all of the components Solihull wanted to teach in one model for younger children. “Guided by the research in the psychological sciences, our challenge was to identify the best resources to help the children to learn and to create our own where they didn’t exist.”
The reaction from pupils has been a positive one, Penney explained: “The children have been wonderful. Their engagement, their enthusiasm and their insight has only strengthened our conviction that in the hubbub of daily life, we must all dedicate time to focus on what’s most important – even, or especially, when we are little.”