Following a challenging year, partially due to Covid-19 and lockdown, there is an extensive waiting list for children seeking counselling.
The education minister, Peter Weir, announced to the Stormont Education Committee that over 400 post-primary children wanted professional help.
However, this only identifies children who have come forward or who have been identified by professionals/parents needing help. My concern is that the pandemic may have a lasting impact on some children and many might not be identified nor ask for help. Thankfully, there are some techniques that you can implement at home to address child stress and anxiety.
Mindfulness is a term that is widely used, but many people are unsure what it is. Mindfulness is a form of meditation in which the aim is to focus on your body's emotions/senses during a task. Mindfulness aims to focus on nothing but the present, which helps to relax the body and reduce stress. I have discussed some mindfulness activities below which are suitable for both adults and children.
Shark Fin Breathing
Reports show that incorrect breathing technique can be directly related to stress in adults and children.
One activity you can try is called Shark Fin breathing. First, sit on the floor with eyes closed. Next, place a thumb on your forehead with fingers pointing to the sky, mirroring a shark's fin. As you take deep breaths in and out, move the thumb slowly between your forehead and chest.
It is important to remember the 5 S’s for this activity: sit straight, still, silent, soft breathing and shut eyes.
If you would prefer a more active mindfulness activity, try going on a mindful safari.
So often, we walk around without actually noticing what is around us. The goal of the mindful safari is to go on a nature walk at a slow pace in silence.
When children find an insect, animal or bird, ask them to quietly observe it. Questions you could ask your child: How does it move? Does it have a call? The mindful safari will help children connect with nature while solely focusing on one task.
The heartbeat exercise is a simple activity that can be done on short notice. First, get the child's heartbeat to rise by jumping up and down or running around the garden.
Then ask them to place their hand over their heart and pay attention to how their heartbeat and breathing feels.
Remember, the goal of mindfulness is to focus on nothing but the present to provide the mind respite. An excellent activity to follow this is to tense and relax muscles. Start at the feet and ask participants to tense and release their muscles for five seconds each.
Then move to the calves and gradually up the whole body, which will leave children feeling relaxed.
Sometimes you need a mindfulness activity where children can do it independently. Mindfulness colouring is another fantastic resource to help children just be in the present. It helps generate focus and quietness, which allows the mind to switch off, giving it a much-needed break. There is an abundance of mindfulness colouring sheets online, easily found through an online search.
Prevent Summer Learning Loss with Education Support Hub
Education Support Hub is now taking bookings for summer classes. It is important that children switch off over the break; however, I feel it is equally important to have a weekly top-up session so they will not lose their progress over the long duration of the summer holidays. Last year, many places were filled so please contact me early to avoid disappointment.
Education Support Hub provides assistance to help primary school children reach their full academic potential. Following a free assessment, your child's learning gaps and needs are identified, which will be communicated to you. They are then placed in a small group of similar academic ability.
The small group dynamic helps mirror a classroom environment whilst encouraging some healthy competition! Each child is continually assessed throughout the session, immediately highlighting any areas of concern. I provide support for children from P3 - P7, including GL Transfer Test preparation.
I am a fully qualified teacher (Access NI cleared) and teach through the online platform Zoom in the comfort of your own home. Zoom facilitates an interactive whiteboard, visual, audio and chat features. If you would like to hear more about current clients' experiences, check out our reviews on Facebook and Google.
Education Support Hub Founder