Classroom Support for Mental Health – Translated to the Home Environment

January 24, 2017
One in five children have or have had a mental health disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. A recent ”On Parenting” article in the Washington Post discussed ways in which school faculty can help children with mental health disorders, even without a therapist on staff. Many of these ideas can also be translated to the home and be supported by your professional au pair.

One idea we especially liked was having a morning check in, via a “feelings thermometer” to see how the child is feeling. This can help the au pair gauge a child’s mood and help her to understand the best way to move forward in the day.

“A feelings thermometer is a simple tool that can be downloaded and printed and used for the daily check. Have the students choose colors to represent feelings (frustrated, sad, worried, happy, etc.) and bring their thermometers to the morning meeting. Each child can take a moment to share their current color and name one wish for the day.”

Another idea was to create a “calming corner” and/or a “wiggle center” – areas in the home where a child can go to reduce stress through calming activities or where they can work out stress through more active movement.

“A calming corner in the classroom — complete with squeeze balls, instructions on how to visualize blowing up a balloon, relaxing coloring pages and other sensory activities that can be done quietly — is a great way to help kids reduce stress during the day. A wiggle center is another option. Here you might find a stability ball, wiggle cushions, therapy bands or instructions for activities such as wall push-ups and yoga poses.”

The supportive ideas presented in the article can be beneficial whether or not your child has a diagnosed mental health disorder. 

“The truth is that kids don’t need a concrete diagnosis to benefit from social-emotional support in school. In fact, early intervention to help kids manage the ups and downs of life, and cope with things such as anxiety, can give kids the tools they need to work through obstacles as they grow.”

For more information, read the full article on the Washington Post website here.