Circles for Learning trains teachers to support children develop emotional literacy, resilience, social skills and understand self development. It increases knowledge and understanding and supports staff create a culture for wellbeing within their classrooms.
The training to be a Circles for Learning Teacher includes developing the knowledge and understanding of foundations for Mental Health and Wellbeing and how to weave the 5 different strands together to create a classroom environment that is supportive to developing a strong classroom culture that supports and develops mental health and wellbeing.
Circles for Learning enables young people to observe the behaviour of a mother/father and child and involves them in discussing and thinking about what they have seen and how both Mum/Dad and baby might feel. It enables the young people to watch how a child seeks out and is soothed by their parent before they learn to self sooth. These observations and discussions naturally link to conversations about themselves. Strategies to sooth can be shared and talked about. The ability to think and understand others can be developed and through discussions emotional literacy is extended. Managing anxiety and stress are other areas that the Teacher and the children will explore.
Watching learning unfold as a child tries to get the correct shape into a shape sorter or fit a lid on a box is a powerful stimulant for discussion about what learning is and how it develops. This opens up a range of areas for discussion and work around self esteem and the importance of a growth mind set.
Within the Circles for Learning Project young people will watch their class baby learn to crawl or walk for the first time and will be aware of the effort, failures and motivation that occur before success. These rich observations act to facilitate young people to develop an understanding of perseverance, allowing discussion and exploration of how this develops. This knowledge supports self reflection and self development within the group. The importance of early years in child development provides the focus for discussion about emotional wellbeing and how we use strategies we may have learnt from our parents as well as new ones that other members of the group utilise. The Teacher can support discussion and facilitate a range of activities to promote the development of a range of positive psychological skills using the resource materials.
Watching the interaction between a mother/father and child is a very powerful experience and demonstrates the importance of social interactions and communication. Circles for Learning facilitates this and enables the young people to be supported in developing their ideas and thinking by a well trained Teacher. They are able to observe, think about and discuss the skills that make successful relationships and then both watch and discuss the emotions that occur when the relationships becomes ruptured. With the support of a skilled teacher they can then identify the skills needed to repair the relationship. All of these skills are important in managing friendships and other relationships both at the time and in the future.
Circles for Learning incorporates both the development of skills for Learning, and emotional growth. It supports the belief that one cannot be achieved without the other and that both are intertwined. It supports young people understand the link between learning and state of mind, and supports them develop positive strategies to address a range of issues including positive self talk, positive relationships, empathy, self-awareness, and the link between thoughts and behaviours. The Teacher has access to a range of exciting resources and lesson plans to explore these areas with their group.
Circles for Learning allows young people to focus on learning and what this means. It enables them to explore the skills that make a good learner and how these can be strengthened. Through participation in the project the group will create a culture for learning looking at skills, beliefs values and environments. They will be able to think and make connections about their own learning, share strategies that enable them to get into the ‘learning zone’ and discuss how they regulate themselves and what strategies they find most useful. For some children and young people they will, for the first time, start to realise that they can have some control over how they respond and behave.
The project enables the Teacher and the young people to explore both the skills needed to be a successful learner as well as the emotional implications of learning. The Mother/Father and baby observations engage the young people and support their developing understanding of learning and of the nature of interactions between people. It also enables them to link their own experiences to how they think about themselves and to support self reflection and the understanding that they have choices.
The Circles for Learning project enables the Teacher and the young people to create a culture alongside of learning. The project is an all inclusive one and relies upon the group sharing knowledge and understanding with each other so that the group itself becomes a valuable resource.