From 6th -10th February 2023, children at Greenfield participated in array of activities that enabled them to think about the practices they can take to look after their mental health.
As a prep school, we recognise the importance of providing our students with a well-rounded education that not only focuses on academics, but also nurtures their creativity and overall well-being. That’s why Greenfield places a strong emphasis on the creative arts and music, which have been proven to have a profound impact on mental health.
Why ‘Arts for Mental Health’?
Studies have shown   that participating in creative arts and music activities can help reduce stress and anxiety, improve mood, and even boost cognitive function. Practising creative endeavours can provide an escape from any anxieties or pressures that may arise from work or school life, whilst providing an outlet for self-expression.
This week, in honour of Children’s Mental Health week, the Greenfield community celebrated “Arts for Mental Health”, focusing on ways in which we can harness creative passions, help mood-boost and foster resilience. We focused on the idea of allowing oneself time within your day to do something creative – whether it be painting, building a Lego model, singing, playing an instrument, making a video – as a mood lifter and as a source of empowerment to feel more positive about life.
What did we do this week?
This week, we enjoyed an array of exciting activities throughout different lessons based around mental health and positivity: from Art, PE, PSHE, Music, English, IT and Drama. The children made “Jars of Positivity”, created special playlists for different moods, explored helpful resources for wellbeing, and took part in mindful movement exercises.
Our afternoon assemblies this week included a lively Big Sing and Sign where we sang and signed until our hearts were full; a Laughter assembly that had us grinning for the rest of the afternoon, and we heard from various members of staff who explained their use of the arts to preserve their mental health (and we enjoyed some wonderful performances!). Read more about how our staff use arts for their own mental wellbeing.
Considering the uplifting and therapeutic effect of live music, every morning this week saw live performance outside the school entrance as children and staff arrived to school, starting off each frosty day with a dose of sunshine.
In the Classroom
In Mrs Goodwill’s illustrious Art Studio, the children filled re-purposed glass jars with messages of kindness, happy memories and any words or pictures that will bring a smile. Any time the children need a little help feeling happy, excited or motivated, their jars of positivity can give them a little lift.
Listening to music and understanding how different songs can affect their mood, the children have been creating their own individual playlists that they can listen to when they want to feel more calm, energised or excited.
As we hold conversations about looking after our mental health and taking a nurturing approach, we then naturally turn to how we can extend our care towards others in need; showing empathy and kindness to help lift another person’s mood. In their Drama lessons, the children have been using ‘Method Acting’ techniques to step into the shoes of someone who might need support and how we can best help them.
The children started the week in their PSHE lessons creating their “pledge” posters: the aim is for them to pledge how they will practise different ways to look after mental health, under five different categories. Their ‘5 Ways to Mental Health’ are: Be Mindful, Connect, Be Active, Get Creative and Give to Others. Throughout the week children are sharing how they’ve been getting on with their pledges and indulging in relaxation sessions, helping them to think happy thoughts.
The use of technology and screen time has much more of an impact on children today than ever before. In their IT lessons this week we are focusing on how the overuse of social media can negatively impact one’s mental health. We also explored some popular wellbeing apps that aim to reduce screen time and bring a sense of calm.
Looking at aesthetic appreciation of art, the children enjoyed joyous dance sessions in teams where they had the freedom to choreograph a dance together then perform to an appreciative audience. We also hosted epic afternoon sessions with Miss Griffiths who led the children through challenging balances and mindful breathing techniques.
Thinking about empathising with others around them to support one another’s mental health, the children looked at the work of artists in their English lessons. The children looked at the impressionist ‘Luncheon at the boating party’ by Renoir (see below) and based on their interpretation of the piece, either wrote character descriptions, poetry or a story. Whilst working, they listened to classical music to help them imagine the feelings of others.
Upper School children also had the homework task to research a famous person who had to overcome mental health issues, and produce some work on the strategies which they employed to help deal with their circumstances: children produced pieces on Marcus Rashford, Albert Einstein, Ariana Grande and Kelly Holmes to name a few.
Celebrating Mental Health
On Friday this week, we participated in “Dress to Express Yourself” Mufti Day where children enjoyed coming to school in outfits they felt best expressed their personality. Lower School and Early Years children enjoyed a dance party in the Atrium with the tremendous vocals of Miss Fletcher.
We celebrated achieving our pledges made at the start of the week in our afternoon assembly, and enjoyed a lovely performance of ‘Lean on Me’ by our staff choir – showing that anyone can perform in front of others (not necessarily professional musicians) but more importantly, that we all need to make time in our day for mental health practices whether it be singing, drawing, or simply calling a friend.
Whilst we enjoyed a supercharged week of positivity and feeling good this week, taking the time to understand what gives us strength and how important it is to maintain our mental wellbeing has equipped our children with a toolkit of outlets and practices that will help them elevate their mood, nurture their mental strength and prioritise their overall health for years to come.