Teaching children as young as two about mental health helps them to have “good wellbeing and resilience”, nursery school staff have said.
Rothesay Nursery School in Luton, Bedfordshire, is the first early years provider to be named an ambassador for mental health.
It was awarded by Thrive, which trains education professionals to support the emotional development of children.
Nursery teachers said it was important to embed positive mental health early.
The local authority-maintained nursery school has 98 children, who are aged from two to five, including many who have English as an additional language or who have complex special educational needs and disabilities.
‘Setting children up for success’
Elizabeth Leer, deputy head teacher at the nursery, said putting “the right foundations in for children” at an early age has “a fundamental effect for them as they grow older”.
“The early years is such an important time and we believe that by embedding positive mental health at this stage, it sets a child up for success in their future education because they can be calm and ready to learn,” she said.
“It also helps them have really good wellbeing and resilience.
“Then they have got something that they can use when they get older and need to work through those emotions and through ups and downs.”
‘It’s OK to be sad’
One of the mothers at the nursery, Nadine, said she had already noticed a difference in her daughter since the mental health sessions began.
“She’s a lot calmer,” she said.
“She’s aware of other children and if they feel sad she’s aware that they need comforting, and sometimes she does comfort others.
“Doing the sessions has taught her that its OK to be happy and also to be sad and you can talk about it and you can do things to help you.”
‘Children feel safe and nurtured’
Melanie Fisher, from Thrive, said the classes were important, especially after the coronavirus pandemic which has led to some delays in development and an increase in comforters and attachment issues.
They’re wary of being in crowded places so it’s good to be able to put children in a group and allow them to play together, to hold hands and share some joy,” she said.
Ms Fisher said the nursery was “a wonderful example” of an Early Years setting that was putting positive mental health at the centre of children’s lives and learning.
“As a result, staff are helping young children to be emotionally-ready for the next stage of their education and to develop a love of learning that will help them to fulfil their potential.
“The moment you walk into the nursery you can feel that there is a lovely, calm atmosphere that helps the children to feel safe and nurtured by a team of adults who are dedicated to their wellbeing,”