Healthy mindset

Healthy mindset - An investment for wellbeing in school

Everybody talks about wellbeing but why is wellbeing important in schools? How can our teachers maintain an equilibrium between the academic and non-academic? 

Our learners today face immense pressure and increased levels of stress. Our educational system needs to build resilient learners who can manage their stress effectively, thereby overcoming any barriers to learning and accomplishing their full potential.

Every leader of the school is entrusted with the most valuable resource—learners. We all believe that there is a genius in each child. I have encountered all kinds of learners in my career in education. Some have impressed me, some have frustrated me, some have confused me while others have delighted or surprised me. Believing in the intrinsic worth and potential of each learner by letting each learner know that we truly care about them and that we fulfill our obligation to nurture them in a safe and stimulating and enabled teaching-learning environment is what has led to impactful test scores, better classroom management, effective teacher relationships, strong classroom communities and high productivity in the whole school. This thereby leads to flourishing of individuals, communities, and nations. Our best learners and teachers are those who have the skills, resources, and environments necessary for them to experience wellbeing and reap the benefits of feeling good and learning more.

It is not just students who benefit from wellbeing. Educators benefit too. Educators with low levels of wellbeing are more exhausted and get easily demotivated by challenges and experience burn-out. They will take more effect and time to build warm positive motivating relationships with their learners. Educators with high levels of wellbeing will be more interactive, creative and innovative in their teaching-learning approach.  A holistic approach to education will helps our learners to to maximize their potential. By prioritizing well-being using the holistic teaching approach, we will nurture the whole child. Holistic Education is proven by studies to be a very effective way that prepares learners to meet any challenges they may face in life and in their academic career. Holistic teaching approach helps learners to be more aware about oneself, to develop healthy relationships and positive social behaviors, fosters better personal social and emotional development and builds resilience.

I would like to share my own personal story here which brings out the importance of the holistic teaching approach. I am the oldest sibling that grew up in an extended family in Goa, India. I have a younger, very outgoing sister and I had a brother who was dyslexic, I have always been ‘Miss Conscientious' in my family. Looking back at my brother's childhood, he had characteristics of dyslexia. Yet he remained undiagnosed. As a toddler, he had delayed speech, but was very confident and social. But all that changed when he started school. He hated it, and was left behind by his peers in the classroom. He had illegible handwriting, was slow at reading and battled with spelling. These hindrances led to the deterioration of his social skills and he lost that confidence he had so enjoyed as a child. Things got worse when my younger sister started school and was top of her class. He couldn't understand why his sisters were doing so well and he wasn't. His self esteem took a knock and he sunk into depression. While trying to come to terms with his death, I realized that if he had education that celebrates the individual rather than the mastery of the 3 R’s, it would have helped him a lot. Learners need to not only develop academically, but also develop the ability to survive in the modern world. A holistic approach used by teachers encourages learners to make connection in a subject, using their creative skills. It instills curiosity and develop better communication and social skills. It makes learning natural and engaging thereby motivating learners to learn and know more. The whole learning experience becomes fun and meaningful to the learner. It naturally aids personal, social and emotional development.

We need to continue working to teach our learners teaches how to be human, how to overcome obstacles and achieve success. We say it with great pride that we are preparing learners for the future. And indeed we truly are teaching the learners to be able to rise and meet challenges presented to them in the future and contribute to the world in which they live. The Foundation Stage curriculum in almost all schools focusses on holistic learning right from childhood. Through varied learning experiences, our little learners are learning to first value themselves, their worth, and recognize their abilities and how to be able to do what they want in life. Resilience is a learned quality and through facing and overcoming difficulties in daily experiences, children develop this quality. It is wonderful to see educators develop lesson plans with diverse resources that focus on more than just academics, thereby leaving a deep positive impact on the behaviour of learners and also their outlook on life.

All schools encourage learners to work at their own pace. Gone are the days when all learners worked at the same level and speed. Nowadays all educators are all attuned to each child's individual persona and learning style. Differentiation is followed intensively in schools. There are remedial and gifted programmes to meet the individual learning needs of each learner in the classroom. Each school takes the creative outlook on education and academics and provides children with a pace attributed to their individual needs to avoid boredom, a loss of interest, or frustration. Individual talents are nurtured through the Enhancement programmes during school hours or with after-school activities. Adequate learning support is provided for learners with any specific learning difficulty. The most fascinating thing about linking wellbeing to learning is making strong connections to the real natural world.

It is wonderful to see that our knowledge regarding childhood development has expanded, and with it our teaching methodologies. Our learners are blessed to have an education that is in tune with each learner’s unique needs and skills, and one that prepares the learner to become a well-rounded adult. Learners are taught in a more natural and engaging way. By incorporating wellbeing into learning, we are empowering our learners to use their academic learning as a foothold for their emotional and social development. Learners are taught how to learn in core subjects such as literacy, numeracy and science. When learners feel good about learning and challenging themselves in certain subjects, they are propelled to be more curious, inquisitive and eventually be innovative adults in the workplace. A good sense of wellbeing will fuel the child’s quest for lifelong learning and development.

About the author: Remediana Dias is the author of the book—“Understanding Dyslexia”. She studied M.Sc in Specific Learning Difficulties at the University of Southampton, UK. She is the founder of the NGO—Vision Education Society in Goa. She was recently recognized as the Indian Achiever among the top 50 under 50 for the year 2020 for her work in the field of education.