Mental Health Awareness Week 2021
Our spacious and extensive grounds are a hidden gem of natural beauty, awe and wonder. What better environment for our mental health? Nature is central to our psychological and emotional health, that it’s almost impossible to realise good mental health for all without a greater connection to the natural world.
During Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 at Pownall Hall School, we explored nature’s unique ability to not only bring consolation in times of stress and provide positive health benefits but also increase our creativity, empathy and a sense of wonder. We understand and appreciate that nature is our great untapped resource for a mentally healthy future, therefore, we make the most of the beautiful environment around us to plan learning opportunities, both outside in nature, and by bringing nature into the classroom.
The theme for Mental Health Awareness week this year is… Connect with Nature!
Read on to find out how our different year groups have been celebrating Mental Health Week.
In the Nursery, we thoroughly believe that Nature holds many benefits for our health and wellbeing, and we connect with it every day. Therefore this week has been about showcasing how we connect with Nature and the benefits it provides.
Over the week we have delved into seven different categories through which our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing could be nurtured by nature.
- Green Acts
One of the categories was ‘Connect Through Adventure’ with the activity to ‘Climb a Tree’.
Here are some of the benefits of this activity;
Climbing can help develop physical strength and fitness.
Climbing helps develop focus and concentration.
Climbing can boost self-confidence and self-esteem.
Climbing is an excellent gross motor activity for physical development.
Climbing can help children become more flexible in body and mind.
When you climb you form new more complex neural networks in the brain.
Climbing helps develop a resilient “I can do it” attitude.
Climbing helps children become problem solvers.
Climbing helps us develop a better connection with ourselves.
Climbing provides a rich sensory experience for the developing child.
Is there a more perfect place to connect with nature than in our beautiful grounds and in our Forest School Area? First, we sat around the fire circle while Miss Julie read us the story ‘Stuck’ all about a tree and the things that get stuck in it! Then we moved towards our ‘climbing tree’ and listened carefully to Miss Julie explaining what we were going to do. We all had a turn climbing into the tree, we were all so brave and thoroughly enjoyed the experience! Luckily nobody got stuck!
It is a known fact that being out in the garden and gardening has a positive impact on mental health, so that’s what we did! The children have been enjoying our KG garden and learning about the importance of eating vegetables as part of a healthy and balanced diet. We have discussed where vegetables come from and have planted some of our own in the garden. The children understand what the vegetables need in order to help them grow and they will continue to water and nurture our plants as we hopefully grow some delicious vegetables. We were excited to see a dragonfly enjoying our garden too!
In Reception, we love to be outside where we reconnect with the nature around us. We have been planting nasturtiums, sweet peas, lettuce and strawberries in our new planters.
In Forest School, we looked for spiders and spiders webs. The children really enjoyed spinning their own webs with the sticks they found and some wool.
For Mental Health Week, the children in Form 1 embarked on a Nature walk around our beautiful school grounds. They thought about what they could see, hear, smell and touch, and discussed what they love about being outside.
We have been looking into what we can do in order to keep our mind happy and healthy. The children started the week by exploring the power of music and how it can help change the state of mind we are in. As well as this the children discovered that mindfulness colouring is a great way to switch off from things and refocus the mind. Finally, we went for a walk around the amazing grounds and discovered how we have numerous areas around the school which can bring us a sense of calmness and relaxation as well as making them appreciate the little things in life and how this can change our feelings to positive happy feelings.
Celebrating ‘Nature’ for Mental Health Week, Form 3 have explored different ways to bring nature into their lives.
The children went on a ‘Nature Walk’ around our beautiful grounds to appreciate the natural environment and how it promotes positive mental health. Form 3 said they were grateful for the wise and gentle trees, the colourful and fragrant flowers and the tiny, refreshing raindrops!
Then, they thought of words to describe how they were feeling… calm, still, refreshed, content, alive and free were discussed, to name but a few!
Being outside, in the beautiful natural environment will give the children real and meaningful experiences to support them with their nature poetry writing this week!
Form 4 children love playing outside on the field with their friends, whether it rains or shines. This week, we made the most of the brief dry weather spell to go outside for our circle time activity. Children were encouraged to describe what natural things they could see and hear and how it made them feel. Everyone felt happier and calmer after this and then they wrote some beautiful acrostic poems to celebrate the importance of Nature.
Form 5 discussed how they felt when they worked together with others, they used words to describe their feelings. A new notice board was created to display their work. Happy, Positive, Excited and Valued were some of the popular choices of words amongst the F5 children.
Form 6 practised ‘Mindfulness’.
Form 6 used their listening sense by closing their eyes and listening to various genres of music. Whilst they were listening, they had to think about how it made them feel, what colour they thought of, and visualise a scene. We shared our thoughts, if we wanted to, with the rest of the class. The variety of scenes, colours and feelings were very interesting and we celebrated the fact that everyone is different, and had their own views and opinions
What a wonderful week – appreciating the true beauty and wonder of nature!