SEMH in Early Years
In Early Years, we actively promote and support children’s emotional security. We carefully plan our curriculum to include teaching children the language of feelings, helping them to appropriately develop their emotional literacy, health and wellbeing. Some other ways we develop emotional literacy are:
- Circle Time
- physical education
- outdoor play
- active learning
The Leuven Scales for Wellbeing and Involvement
At Oasis Academy Clarksfield, our curriculum, provision and care practices promote and encourage children’s emotional security and development of their character. One way we do this is to use The Leuven Scales. This tool focusses on two central indicators of quality early years provision: children’s ‘wellbeing’ and ‘involvement’.
Wellbeing focuses on the extent to which children feel at ease, act spontaneously, show vitality and self-confidence. It is a crucial component of emotional intelligence and good mental health.
- Extremely Low - The child clearly shows signs of discomfort such as crying or screaming. They may look dejected, sad, frightened or angry. The child does not respond to the environment, avoids contact and is withdrawn.
- Low - The posture, facial expression and actions indicate that the child does not feel at ease. However, the signals are less explicit than under level 1 or the sense of discomfort is not expressed the whole time.
- Moderate - The child has a neutral posture. Facial expression and posture show little or no emotion. There are no signs indicating sadness or pleasure, comfort or discomfort.
- High - The child shows obvious signs of satisfaction (as listed under level 5). However, these signals are not constantly present with the same intensity.
- Extremely High - The child looks happy and cheerful, smiles, cries out with pleasure. They may be lively and full of energy. Actions can be spontaneous and expressive. The child may talk to him/herself, play with sounds, hum, sing. The child appears relaxed and does not show any signs of stress or tension. He / she is open and accessible to the environment. The child expresses self-confidence and self-assurance.
Involvement focuses on the extent to which pupils are operating to their full capabilities. In particular it refers to whether the child is focussed, engaged and interested in various activities.
- Extremely Low - Activity is simple, repetitive and passive. The child seems absent and displays no energy. They may stare into space or look around to see what others are doing.
- Low - Frequently interrupted activity. The child will be engaged in the activity for some of the time they are observed, but there will be moments of non-activity when they will stare into space, or be distracted by what is going on around.
- Moderate - Mainly continuous activity. The child is busy with the activity but at a fairly routine level and there are few signs of real involvement. They make some progress with what they are doing but don’t show much energy and concentration and can be easily distracted.
- High - Continuous activity with intense moments. The child’s activity has intense moments and at all times they seem involved. They are not easily distracted.
- Extremely High - The child shows continuous and intense activity revealing the greatest involvement. They are concentrated, creative, energetic and persistent throughout nearly all the observed period.
At Oasis Academy Clarksfield, we use the scales to ensure children are emotionally ready to learn and get involved. We know that when there are high levels of wellbeing and involvement, deep level learning is taking place. We therefor ensure we have a ‘rich’ an well-planned environment offer in which children can explore, feel safe and ‘at home’. We ensure the day is well-structured and geared towards children’s individual needs. Our early years is a place where children develop positive relationships with each other and with staff.
Due to the recent Covid-19 pandemic, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and Trauma have unfortunately been heightened for a lot of children, which can have a long-lasting effect on children’s lives. Here at Oasis Academy Clarksfield, we carefully plan our curriculum and environments to support children’s Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH).
At Oasis Academy Clarksfield, we have based our classroom environments on Shahana Knight’s advice on supporting the emotional and mental health of children and staff. Shahana Knight is a qualified play therapist and director at TPC Therapy. Our environments, both indoor and outdoor, are planned carefully to encourage children to manage their emotions, and feel confident, safe and calm within the environment. Displays in our environment are there to provoke self esteem and wellbeing, so a child can look at their work and be proud and say ‘I did that’, or it is there to provoke learning; something that will teach or remind but most of all engage children. Through careful research, displays and classroom environments use neutral tones in order to reduce cognitive overload and promote a calming place for our children where they are happy and ready to learn in a safe environment.