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"Lean On Me..."

We had prepared our content for this week’s blog prior to the Prime Minister’s statement last night. Our theme this week is “Promoting help-seeking’, or, “lean on others when necessary”, an aspect of the Resilience Framework with relevance for adults as well as children.

At this time, the Bill Withers lyrics seem particularly pertinent, so I have attached them in full here, and you can maybe find time to enjoy listening.

 

 

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Strengthening our immune system

Our psychology colleagues across the world are sharing resources to support children and their families through this pandemic and this week I came across this flipbook: The Mighty Creatures Lost Their Crown. In this story, the Munchkins learn that we have “tiny soldiers in our bodies” that help us to fight viruses, and that “we all have the power to make our little soldiers inside our bodies stronger by sleeping enough and eating healthy food such as fruits and vegetables.” This is a very important resilience message, instilling a sense of hope and giving us practical steps that we can all take to improve our chances of being able to fight the virus.

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Green Care

As we begin another week of this strange existence, with no known end in sight, yet a realisation that we will, collectively, have to find a way of resuming a life that involves contact with others, our thoughts have turned to what we can offer schools, children and families as they consider how to move from the ‘now’ to the ‘what next’. We have, once again, found inspiration in the Resilience work undertaken by our friends at Boing Boing Community Interest Company, the Resilience Framework developed by Professor Angie Hart and her colleagues. If you are new to this approach, there is lots of information on the website. Those of you familiar with the Framework will be interested to know that there are now versions for primary children, for families and for adults, as well as versions in a variety of languages, all downloadable from the Boing Boing webpage here.

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Positive Psychology

As we begin a new school term completely unlike any other we have ever experienced, we are focusing this week on Positive Psychology. It is easy at this difficult time to focus on the negatives – and there are many – but we are also seeing the positive side of human nature and ultimately it is our resilience that will see us through this.

 

 

With huge thanks, as always, to the Catalyst team for their creativity, research and ideas.

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The importance of play

Last Monday we tuned into Reasons to be Cheerful “a podcast about ideas to fix the world” hosted by Ed Miliband and Geoff Lloyd. We were both humbled and proud to hear local headteacher Jayne Kennedy (Barlow Hall Primary) describing the many ways in which her dedicated team are supporting vulnerable children in their area, as so many of you will be doing in your schools and communities. Jayne’s story, representative of all our Manchester communities, reduced listeners to tears. This is just one of many inspiring stories behind the headlines. Follow the link in our ‘podcast of the week’ section below to hear the interview.

This newsletter and our website gathered a lot of interest last week and we value and welcome feedback and comments. One of our readers, a parent, challenged us on Twitter:  "I think we are OK for activities, school work, reading etc. What I think my KS2 son is missing the most is free playtime with his peers. Any suggestions for how to do this?" Always up for a challenge, we have turned our attention this week to the question of play, particularly social play, whilst we are distancing.

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Teenagers and the coronavirus pandemic

As the Coronavirus crisis continues, this week we received the instruction that we should all remain at home as much as possible and avoid any unnecessary travel or contact with others, even members of our family. Meanwhile, children and young people are encountering a host of new experiences as “home-schooling” begins for most children and “childcare at school” has started for a few.

The current situation is difficult for everyone, but there are particular challenges for young people in the 13 – 19 age group. Social interaction is important at all stages of development, but socialisation outside the family plays a particularly important part in adolescent development. Research suggests that adolescence is a key time for the development of regions of the brain involved in social cognition and self-awareness and that a lack of social interaction during adolescence has lasting consequences in adulthood. Lucy Thompson has reviewed the research for us and provided a summary for our Research web page. The impact and implications for our young people are described in this comment piece for the Guardian by Donna Ferguson: A survival guide for parents during family isolation

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Catalyst Courier #1

The global Coronavirus pandemic has escalated in the UK during the past week, causing widespread uncertainty and anxiety. The next few months are unpredictable and will bring unforeseen challenges to school staff, parents, and children and young people. As a team of educational psychologists we want to support you in whatever way we can. 

We do not claim to be experts in this situation as we are entering unchartered territory for everyone, but we will do all we can to support our school communities as best we can, to help you to stay in touch with your colleagues during the coming weeks and to provide resources to support parents and children at home as well as those children who are continuing to be directly supported in school. Please do use us as a source of support and do let us know if there is anything we can do to help.

Our COVID19 webpage will be updated as often as possible with resources and signposting to help us collectively through the coming days and weeks. Please do let us know the issues you are facing and your concerns. If we can help we will do so. Get in touch using our email: [email protected]

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Inclusion Matters 2019: Children in the Digital Age

The Digital Age has brought about rapid changes to our way of life often compared in scale to the Industrial Revolution. The so-called Digital Revolution has profoundly changed how we all learn, work and play. We don't yet fully understand how these developments will influence the future for our children, but we do know that the pace of change and development is a cause of anxiety and concern.

This conference offered a time for teachers and psychologists to come together to pause and reflect on what we need to know and do to help our children survive and prosper in this new age. We brought together thinkers and educators who are engaged in research in this area, alongside providers of technological solutions to educational challenges.

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Inclusion Matters 2018: Resilience and Belonging

Belonging means thinking about the difference we can make by connecting with people in our communities. For schools, this means reaching out and embracing our diverse communities. In Manchester, we have hugely diverse communities, living alongside each other in close proximity. The diversity of our Manchester communities presents opportunities as well as challenges, and very many of our schools engage in an inclusive way with their communities to promote tolerance and understanding.

The theme for our fifth annual Inclusion Matters conference was Resilience and Belonging.

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Inclusion Matters 2016: Resilience

On Friday 25th November around 100 adults with an interest in education gathered at Gorton Monastery to consider what "Resilience" means for children and young people.

During the day we reflected upon the need to nurture our own wellbeing before we can look after others; considered the importance of enabling children to be active, curious and reflective learners; thought about the value of play and being outdoors; understanding the whole child, knowing that emotional needs must be met before learning can take place; and reminded ourselves of the necessity of developing resilience both in ourselves and in the young people we work with. 

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