Every day, students are exposed to big and small challenges and have an opportunity to learn and practice effective ways of coping.  Over time, with experience, observation, and coaching, students begin to build their coping toolbox, which they can carry with them through life.  “Learning to cope with manageable threats is critical for the development of resilience” (Resilience, Centre for the Development of Children, Harvard University, 2017).  Using the Everyday Mental Health Classroom Resource allows educators to introduce a range of coping techniques to the class.  Students may find that some of these techniques really resonate for them, and they will add them to their toolbox.  Offering a range of coping ideas, and providing a safe space to practice these, can help students to learn lifelong skills for managing stress.

Students may experience a range of emotions over the course of their day at school. They may feel happy, sad, angry, frustrated, excited, or any number of emotions, all in one day. Students, and especially younger children, can struggle to identify and appropriately express their feelings. Learning to recognize different emotions, and manage them appropriately, can help students to better regulate their behaviour, and effectively use their words to share how they are feeling and what they need (Moyses, 2013). The following everyday practices can support educators in teaching students the necessary skills to identify and manage emotions.

Practices that promote positive motivation teach “children how to remain positive and (about) the importance of maintaining a positive attitude” (CAMH, 2017 p. 11). These practices include expressing gratitude, practicing optimism, practicing perseverance and reframing. With regular use, these practices help students to approach challenges in life with an optimistic and positive mindset, understanding that repeated effort can lead to success and that there is struggle in most successes and in everyone’s life.

Relationship skills help students to have positive interactions in the classroom, fostering a sense of belonging, inclusion and positive emotions. When students develop these skills together, this can lead to a safe, caring and inclusive culture for all students in the classroom, which is ideal for optimal learning (and teaching!). The Everyday Mental Health Classroom Resource practices included in this section focus on acts of kindness, being a good friend, being respectful, conflict resolution, empathy and listening.

Supporting and practicing self-confidence can assist students to value their uniqueness, and to be comfortable expressing their opinions. A critical element of self-confidence for students involves growing and learning to appreciate their identity. Knowing who you are, and holding firm to the person you believe yourself to be in the face of life’s challenges and choices, is a life-long skill that can begin to develop in childhood. Educators have a key role in helping to show students that they matter, and that they bring value to the classroom.

Every day in classrooms, educators establish routines, model positive social behaviour, and develop and maintain caring relationships which help to facilitate the development of students’ executive functioning skills. These skills are the processes that help us to plan, focus, retain instruction, and multitask. We know that these skills are further developed and enhanced through repeated practise (Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University, 2017).

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