School’s positive learning approach shines

Holy Family KidsMatter launch 1

Positive reinforcement: Holy Family students with the jar of affirmations they receive for doing the right thing.

Holy Family Catholic Primary Menai students have embraced ways to be positive in the classroom and playground.

Students in Kindergarten to Year 6 celebrated with a liturgy on November 6 their School-wide Positive Behaviour for Learning (PBL) initiative, which has set them on the path to becoming a KidsMatter school.

The program encourages positive mental health among primary school students by creating a welcoming environment for parents, carers and students, writing social and emotional learning into the curriculum, and making sure there is support in place for children who show signs of mental illness.

Holy Family’s KidsMatter facilitator Sepy Nadalin said the programs complement each other, with the schools PBL values of ‘care for self’, ‘care for others’ and ‘care for our place’ a part of the school culture since they were introduced three years ago.

The school surveyed the more than 800 students that attend, along with teachers and parents to look at ways to create a more welcoming school environment.

“The goal is to make the community feel that Holy Family is a safe and welcoming place,” Mrs Nadalin said. “We’re looking at the physical environment and what parents experience when they first enter the school – simple things like what they first see and who they speak to.

“The mental health and wellbeing of the students is so closely entwined with positive behaviour.  If their mental health is positive, then they will achieve a lot more academically.”

About 60 parents attended sessions with a guest speaker on how to recognise anxiety in children and help them to deal with in October, which is Mental Health Month.

“Our teachers have noticed students are becoming more anxious and overwhelmed by school work and I think that is a symptom of society today,” Ms Nadalin said.

“I think parents hear the word resilience and they don’t really know what it means, because we use that term too loosely. What we need to do is look at what we can do to build children’s confidence.

“If they have confidence and strong self-esteem and their wellbeing is in a good place, then I think resilience comes from that and enables students to learn.”

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