Caring for our Children in the Current Crisis

25th March 2022

With so much deeply distressing news in Europe at the moment, we wanted to share some information on how Redcliffe is helping to support its pupils along with a few top tips for parents:

– Children write down their worries and share them anonymously in a Worry Bucket. This helps them share the burden of their worries and teachers can then deal with recurring themes and problems with their classes.

– In their PSHCEE lessons, students have been exploring the Health and Wellbeing topic, ‘Think Positive’. These classes discussed different ways of dealing with unhelpful thoughts and learnt about Guatemalan Worry Dolls.

– It’s very easy to feel helpless in these situations. Children are encouraged to celebrate their smaller achievements at school (not just the big wins!) and we have Weekly Awards for things like having a ‘can-do’ attitude, working hard on handwriting, having a good sense of humour, and progressing in swimming.

– Making time for laughter is very important: we know that laughter reduces cortisol levels, the body’s main stress hormone, and boosts feelings of happiness. We encourage our children to have fun and to share funny stories. Our recent assembly featuring ‘honking geese’ had us all rolling around in stitches!

– Making time for children to get creative and use their imagination helps them to escape everyday problems. Singing, dancing, art, crafts, cooking, music, play acting, and creative writing are all activities we allow plenty of time for in our school day and are great activities to be done at home too.

– Outdoor activities, sports, walking and talking, just ‘being’ in the great outdoors allows us to escape from the news and focus totally on something very positive. We have a fantastic weekly programme of sports on offer and lovely outdoor play areas for children to let off steam and relax. We recommend that parents have outdoor family time with their children as much as possible – especially now that the days are getting longer and sunnier!

– Sleep is vitally important and we really encourage our parents and children to switch off their screens and devices in the evening and to read stories before bedtime to help them relax and avoid anxiety.

– Eating well is also an important part of student wellbeing and we have recently joined up with Chartwells and revamped our lunchtime menus to offer healthy but delicious lunches, with plenty of choice, five days a week.

– Choosing appropriate language and context is crucial when speaking to younger children about bigger picture world problems to avoid them becoming frightened and overwhelmed. Giving children a practical, achievable purpose – such as collecting donations and fundraising – is a good way of helping them deal with the situation positively.

– Exposure to age-appropriate news sources is important. The six-o’clock news can include very frightening images whereas Newsround and publications like First News and The Week Junior are specially targeted at younger audiences.

– Taking time to really listen to children’s concerns is essential and often involves an element of ‘reading between the lines’ and repeating back to them what they are saying and letting them know that it is OK to be worried.

– Spending time with pets and animals can be a huge comfort to young children, whether they are your own or belong to friends or family. There are several farms within an easy reach of London that make great days out.

– As a school in a multi-cultural city that celebrates our diversity it is important that we emphasise that this is not a conflict that has been initiated by the Russian people; many Russian people are putting themselves in danger by speaking out against the war.

The relationship between the school and parents is even more important during these difficult times and Mr Dunhill and the teachers are always available for parents to come and talk about any worries they have about how their children are coping with the current situation in Ukraine.