Over 70 St John’s parents attended our second Emotions for Learning (E4L) Morning in Byron House. Parents were invited to watch aspects of our E4L curriculum and Mindfulness programme in action during the day, experiencing it with the children, as well as listening to key presentations from the staff.
E4L was developed at St John’s with the help of the school’s former Child Psychotherapist who set out to create a 4-year social and emotional curriculum for our youngest children, based on up-to-date research about how children’s minds and brains develop. It is designed to encourage the children to express their opinions and feelings and give them the knowledge, skills and understanding they will need to be able to think creatively and problem solve effectively in all areas of their lives. Mindfulness teaching at St John’s builds upon the foundations laid by the E4L curriculum. The programme of lessons seeks to help the children to train their minds not to be distracted or follow thoughts that take them away from the present moment.
The T2 classes started the morning with a demonstration of ‘Action Story’, our peer to peer massage which follows the ‘Massage in Schools’ programme. The children demonstrated asking their partner if they could touch them and then confidently performed the series of 15 strokes designed to nurture and promote positive touch. Following this, the parents were treated to a presentation which explained the story and the theory behind E4L and also went through how E4L is modelled throughout the day by the teachers. Examples were given of how times to ‘just be’ are built into the children’s day through ‘Stillings’ and Mindfulness practices. The E4L way of communicating was described as well as the five units of E4L lessons. Display boards around the hall showed examples of children’s work from E4L lessons and a table full of E4L books were available for parents to investigate during the break.
The parents visited their child’s classroom and experienced part of an E4L lesson. Some of the subjects observed were using the ‘three bears’ to learn about linking thoughts, actions and feelings and thinking about ways in which your mind is like an animal, as part of their Mindfulness Unit. The parents were led through two Mindfulness Practices by the Form 1 and 2 Mindfulness Club, with the children demonstrating a favourite Petal Practice inviting their parents to join in. There was a strong silence in the hall as everyone took time to ‘just be’ together.
The new Form 2 ‘My Mind’ curriculum was explained, describing how the children have been thinking about learning dispositions, habits of mind and different ways of thinking through Philosophy, Critical thinking, Mindfulness and PSE lessons. Finally, Cambridge Kung Fu gave a short talk about Tai Chi and some of the Form 2 children demonstrated the movements they have learned in their recent and much loved Tai Chi sessions. One child said “Tai Chi helps me to build resilience and helps me to take risks”.
One parent enthused, “Thank you for the E4L morning. It was really interesting to hear about and observe this very special part of the school's curriculum. I've noticed at home how our son now more readily describes his emotions, which is fantastic!” and another commented, “Thank you for a wonderful morning. The E4L course is so inspiring.”