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Nurturing Minds and Hearts: A Nursery school’s Holistic Approach to Mental Health and Well-being

In this article, Dawn Gibbons, Operations Director at Sunflower Nurseries, shares their approach for creating a positive environment that helps look after the mental health of all adults and children in their setting.

 

At Sunflower Day Nurseries we aim to create a nurturing environment. The well-being of our staff and children is not just a priority; it's a way of life and fostering good mental health requires care, attention, and a holistic approach. 

In this article I will delve into the heart of Sunflower to share how we scaffold our mental health support and overall well-being.

Help for our staff

Sunflower recognises that a happy team leads to happy children. Hence, our journey begins with the very heartbeat of our organisation - our dedicated staff. We equip them with essential tools through Mental Health First Aid training, enabling them to identify, understand, and support those experiencing mental health challenges. Our open-door policy ensures that every staff member has a voice, while regular one-on-one meetings provide a safe space for expression.


We provide an external health policy that includes counselling services, offering confidential sessions to those in need. But it's not just about addressing issues; it's about prevention too. Engaging activities such as yoga and mindfulness sessions not only alleviate stress but also create a sense of community. Team-building exercises strengthen bonds, fostering a supportive atmosphere where every staff member feels valued and understood.

Nurturing Young Minds

In our nursery, the essence of well-being is interwoven into every day. For the children at Sunflower, we have created communication-friendly spaces where emotions find their voice. Utilising innovative tools like glitter bottles, breathing maps, and music props, we encourage children to express and regulate their emotions. Yoga sessions teach them to embrace their bodies, fostering a connection between physical and mental well-being.


Central to our approach is the idea of co-regulation, where children learn to navigate their emotions with guidance from our experienced practitioners. We emphasise the importance of labelling feelings and emotions, assuring them that it's perfectly okay to feel the way they do. "How can we help you feel less worried, less angry?" we ask, opening the door to a world of support and understanding.

The great outdoors serves as our canvas for exploration and healing. We encourage children to spend more time outdoors, basking in the sunlight and revelling in the joy of physical activity, in-fact our preschool is an outdoor facility. By nurturing a love for nature and movement, we empower them to take charge of their own well-being.

Kindness, Motivation, and Giving Back

Kindness is modelled throughout our practice at Sunflower. We organise kindness activities that not only teach children the value of empathy but also create a ripple effect of positivity. Motivational events inspire them to dream big, fostering a sense of purpose and determination.


Furthermore, Sunflower believes in giving back to the community. Our fundraising campaigns not only raise funds for local causes but also instil a sense of social responsibility in our children. By teaching them the joy of giving, we nurture compassionate souls who understand the importance of supporting others.

 

At Sunflower we believe the journey towards mental well-being is not just a destination but a way of life. By fostering a supportive environment for our staff and providing children with the tools to navigate their emotions, we sow the seeds of a healthier, happier future. Through kindness, motivation, and community outreach, we ensure that the spirit of well-being not only flourishes within our nurseries but also extends its gentle touch to the world beyond. At Sunflower, mental health isn't just a priority; it's a promise, a commitment to nurturing minds and hearts, every day, one day at a time.

 

With many thanks to Dawn Gibbons for writing this article.

Dawn is the operations manager at Sunflower Nursery and is a member of the EuHu Teacher Board.


One small change that can make a lot of difference for children is to be able to show they need help without having to verbalise it.

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