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Five resources to support student wellbeing


Hundreds of thousands of students will be experiencing a range of emotions as they emerge out of their bubbles into a “new normal”. This blog shares five resources specifically designed for New Zealand educators that can be used to support students’ emotional wellbeing as they transition back to school.

Why is wellbeing important?

We know that students’ wellbeing is central to their success as confident lifelong learners. When children and young people have a strong sense of wellbeing, they can engage meaningfully in learning (Education Review Office, 2015).

These five resources can be used by schools to promote and respond to student wellbeing: 

1. Covid-19 Wellbeing Guide – Learning from Home website

The Government’s Learning from Home website contains a comprehensive Covid-19 Wellbeing Guide, developed by clinical psychologist Julie McCormack, with support from Future Curious Limited. The guide currently has three modules with activities, tip sheets, and resources to support children and young people. 

The third module in the COVID-19 Wellbeing Guide focuses on preparing and returning to school. Inside this module you can find background information and support, tip sheets, and learning activities to help transition children and young people back to school. 

Some activities have been designed to be used by parents and caregivers at home. You might like to share these activities as part of your home learning programme.

There are two tip sheets to support module 3.

2. Te Rito Toi

Te Rito Toi helps teachers work with children when they return to school after traumatic or life changing events. Te Rito Toi is based on the understanding that the arts learning area can be used to lead a return to productive learning when schools reopen. Lessons have been written by curriculum experts for levels 1–4 of The New Zealand Curriculum. You can find all lesson plans sorted by curriculum levels in the classroom support section. 

One of the lessons, Teaspoon of Light, was written and taught as schools reopened after the February 2011 Canterbury earthquake and through subsequent aftershocks. It has also been taught in Mexico after earthquakes and in Australia after the 2020 bushfires. It is a great activity to use on the first day back with students and can be modified to use with staff. 

Units of work can be found in the section Hā ora. These units have been designed to connect to the concept of hā ora, which means "a breath of life". 

Te Rito Toi also offers advice for teachers and principals and information on the bigger context of the resource, which includes research reports, arts and wellbeing, and public lectures.

3. Sparklers

Sparklers is a digital resource of wellbeing activities aligned with The New Zealand Curriculum for years 1–8 students. Sparklers was developed in response to requests from the education sector for tools to help them support and promote student wellbeing after the Canterbury earthquakes. The activities on the website are ideal for supporting young people’s wellbeing as they adapt to the challenges of Covid-19.  

There are over 60 activities that can be searched using filters. You can filter activities by wellbeing topic, a term-by-term guide, activity type, or how your students are feeling. 

Sparkers have added Sparklers at Home to help whānau look after their wellbeing. Schools can share this resource with their home communities and teachers might like to assign some Sparklers at Home activities as part of home learning. 

The section for teachers provides further support and includes cool things you can share and a list of happy classroom tips

4. Student wellbeing spotlight

Our student wellbeing spotlight supports teachers and school leaders to explore and implement effective wellbeing practices for students. The spotlight is designed to be a mini professional learning session. Presented on Google Slides, the spotlight includes short readings, videos, and follow up activities to help you grow a culture of wellbeing at your school. Further resources are suggested at the end of the slideshow for those who want to access more information.

Activities include:

  • working collaboratively to develop a shared definition of wellbeing (slide 3)
  • unpacking an ERO report on effective wellbeing practices (slide 7)  
  • watching a video that shares how Canterbury educators have personalised learning to support students' wellbeing and learning (slide 8)
  • exploring the four dimensions of Māori wellbeing from Te Whare Tapa Whā (slides 10 and 11).  

5. Five Ways to Wellbeing at Work Toolkit

The Mental Health Foundation promotes five ways to wellbeing to help people stay mentally well. The Five Ways to Wellbeing at Work Toolkit has been developed by the Mental Health Foundation and Health Promotion Agency to help incorporate the five ways to wellbeing in your workplace. Many of the ideas and activities can be adapted to use with students in classrooms. 

The toolkit provides fact sheets and tools that can be used to encourage your students to make positive changes to boost their mind and mood. 

  • Team games such as What is Wellbeing? can help your students connect and learn new things about each other. 
  • The practical tips for introducing mindfulness can help your students use mindfulness as a wellbeing strategy. 

Are you keen to explore wellbeing further?

Wellbeing for success: A resource for schools has been developed to help schools evaluate and improve student wellbeing. It highlights the importance of schools promoting the wellbeing of all students as well as the need for systems, people, and initiatives to respond to wellbeing concerns for students who need additional support.

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