According to experts on mental health, there are multiple factors which can impact the positive well-being and mental health of children in Kindergarten. Below is a description of these factors, and how we at Rowntree Montessori Schools (RMS) make an effort to offer each child the most positive mental health experience while at school.
Positive Regard Builds Self-Esteem:
The safety and well-being of children should always be of the utmost importance for educators. At RMS, we know that small children need to feel that they are welcome, enjoyed, and valued among the people in their world and environment. A child entering the classroom with a high-five or pleasant “Good morning” from his or her teacher will have a positive morning experience and joyous reaction. We believe that positive regard is more than being nice. It is wholehearted acceptance that helps children feel that they matter.
The small everyday things that teachers do to encourage self-regulation can instill mental health skills that children can use throughout their lives. The occasional overreaction or meltdown and having negative reactions in unfamiliar situations is common in a Kindergarten classroom. Therefore, preparing young children for what is to come next helps build emotional-regulation. Giving children time to solve problems or giving them advanced notice before needing to tidy up can help students by offering them sufficient time to respond, as opposed to being impulsive which can cause fear or overreaction. We also know that teaching children to wait their turn when sharing toys or materials in class, helps them learn patience.
Creating Awareness for Mental Health:
Having a Mental Awareness week at school and integrating it as part of the curriculum helps children understand their varied emotions. The children in this age group generally have a difficult time communicating their feelings at the beginning of the year. Oral communication techniques, such as asking “How do I feel?” – happy or sad – can help a child become aware of how to act in any given moment. At RMS, we offer activities such as reading books about feelings and conduct puppet plays, among many other things to build an awareness of emotions. This enhances each student’s ability to comprehend his or her own feelings, as well as those of their peers and teachers.
For more helpful information about how to have a conversation with your children about Mental Health Issues, click here.