Well-being is the most important thing for schools to focus on when we return to face-to-face learning and see the rest of the semester, according to the head of a Hurstville pre-K-12 school.
Dr. Emma Burgess, principal of Danebank Anglican School for Girls, said that although much had been shared in traditional and social media about the need to care for our mental health and well-being, schools were behind the scenes to support children dealing with the challenges and stress , which is associated with distance learning and necessary to deal with well-being in the classroom.
“Some students will feel anxious about returning, others may simply be excited. Some will be worried about friendships, maybe others not so much. Some will be stressed about their learning and what they have felt they have missed, while others just want to be. “ready to learn in the community. Even as adults, we experience similar feelings and responses,” said Dr. Burgess.
“As we now come out of our homes and return to face-to-face learning, many of us wonder how we can support our children. More then, we wonder how we can actively and practically support their well-being.”
The authors of a study published in medical journal Lancet estimated that cases of depression due to COVID-19 increased 28 percent above pre-pandemic levels, while anxiety increased by 26 percent.
In an interview with Guardian, Dr. NicoleBrunker, a lecturer in education at the University of Sydney, said well-being was “number one” for schools to consider right now. According to Danebank’s doctor Burgess, one way for schools to achieve this is by embedding a visible culture of well-being.
In 2021, Danebank entered into a partnership with Professor Lea Waters of the University of Melbourne to become a Visible Wellbeing Partner School. Staff have learned ways to support the development of student well-being by implementing a framework for visible well-being.
Called the SEARCH framework, it integrates a person’s strengths, emotional leadership, attention and awareness, relationships, coping mechanisms, and habits and goals to provide a practical foundation for building one’s own well-being.
Brain breaks or brain enhancers have become part of daily practice. During distance learning, students enjoyed well-being days. The school has set up a well-being committee, and student-led initiatives have supported the strengthening of friendships.