In their first year of school, Y1 has been on a remarkable Wellbeing journey through the introduction of Character Strengths. James Smith checked in with Y1 teacher Nerida Kiprotich on Visible Wellbeing with our youngest students.
What Visible Wellbeing Practice has been put into action in Y1 recently?
The main focus in Y1 for Visible Wellbeing this year has been Character Strengths.
We introduce strengths through stories, through highlighting an action we have seen someone take at school or if something is shared from home. We then inquire into the strength through asking what do we see, what do we hear and what do we feel when that strength is being used. To start the year, our team had a wish list of the strengths we thought most suitable to introduce to five year olds but it was not a fixed list and we began the year with an open mind. We have taken our time to introduce different strengths when they fit naturally into the school day or into our units of inquiry. Now, eight months into the school year, our Y1s are very familiar with 14 out of 24 Character Strengths – pretty amazing for five year olds.
What are the intended outcomes?
Our aim has been to go in depth with some strengths that are very applicable to Y1 students such as kindness, teamwork, perseverance and fairness. We hope for the children to be able to understand a range of strengths and show this understanding through applying them throughout their day. In addition to going in depth with some strengths, we also notice and name strengths as we see them, which means students are developing an understanding of a wide range of strengths including more complex ones such as Social Intelligence and Self Control. As we have focused our attention on expanding students’ knowledge of strengths, and the children are using them in day-to-day situations, we can return to them easily when we face challenges. This means we are focusing on the positives and what strengths we can use, rather than simply focusing on a particular behaviour or incident.
What is the impact so far?
We see children reminding each other and commenting if they notice a strength being used. This is now a natural part of Y1 learning.
In conversations between students, when we reflect on our day or when they share their learning with us or through our Seesaw portfolios, we hear the language of Character Strengths as they name the strength and talk about how they applied it in their day. Strengths such as teamwork, kindness and gratitude have changed how our classrooms feel through building a really positive classroom community. One key understanding children have come to is that strengths are connected; teamwork needs kindness, perseverance needs bravery if you want to try something new. We also hear from our parent community about how much their children are talking about strengths at home.
What are students doing and saying in relation to this practice?
The awareness of strengths in our youngest students is best captured through what they tell us about strengths:
“Strengths are being good to other people and yourself”
“We feel our strengths inside our body. They help us when things are hard. Strengths help us whenever we need them.”
“Strengths make our classroom community a better place”
“Strengths are important to make the world kind”
“They help us learn more and help us to be the best we can be”
“When you learn new things you grow your strengths”
“Strengths make you feel happy and proud when you use them”
How might this practice be extended in the future?
As we move further into the Visible Wellbeing Framework next year, we will continue to expand more purposefully into the other elements of the framework, using strengths as the focus to build relationships and manage emotions, which is key learning for five year olds. I see strengths really leading learning in our classrooms as we move into the future.