Sunny the golden retriever is our school dog mentor and attends school regularly to support our children in many ways.
The Dog Mentor programme has built upon the benefits of the human-animal bond by providing children with positive experiences with dogs that can help them educationally, developmentally, emotionally and socially. The Dog Mentor programme will be commencing work in our school with a number of children.
Over the last nine years, The Dog Mentor programme has been proven to have a positive impact on children in all areas including self-esteem, behaviour, peer relationships and better engagement skills. These improvements then result in improved academic achievement.
We have a policy, insurance and full risk assessments in place.
She has been training to work in school since she first visited when she was 8 weeks old. She has been assessed under the ‘Dog mentor’ scheme and three members of staff completed training to ensure they were affiliated handlers.
The children have learnt they need to be calm and regulated when working with Sunny and that they need to breathe like a ‘dog trainer’ building on some of our other mindfulness programmes. Sunny helps children by listening to them read, helping them feel less anxious and raising ‘self-esteem’ when they can teach her new tricks.
All parents are asked to give permission for their child to work with Sunny in case of allergies or anxiety.
We believe that all pupils learn best when they can understand, articulate and regulate their emotional responses. For the very young children that attend our school this often needs to be taught explicitly through carefully planned activities in PSHE and in our approaches to wellbeing.
These are just some of the approaches we use:
At Monkwick Infants we teach an age-appropriate yoga session using the Yoga Bugs scheme. Yoga Bugs is the largest children’s yoga and mindfulness activity in the UK.
Classes are designed to encourage children’s learning and development from the walking age to twelve years. They do this through a combination of storytelling, action songs, moves inspired by yoga and mindfulness. YogaBugs can help your child emotionally and physically in many ways whilst also creating a magical space where children can have fun and learn.
The Colour Monster
We use this book throughout the school starting in nursery so that children can identify the emotions they may be feeling. They can often point to the colour monster that they identify with even if they do not have the words to explain. These are displayed in all classes and children have the opportunity to discuss these with their teachers.
Do be Mindful
All of our staff have completed training in developing ‘mindfulness’ through accreditation with the ‘Do be Mindful’ programme. This means children are given a daily mindfulness session where they can develop a focused and calm headspace to support with regulation.
Stories for resilience and emotional intelligence
We know that many of our children need to access their own experiences through the world, story or the creative arts. We use these to generate discussion or for children to talk indirectly about their experiences if they need to.
In school we teach our children about resilience and metacognition through the Elli animals. These animals are likened to learning behaviours and we give certificates on a Friday celebrating pupils who have displayed these attributes.
We have also trained our staff to deliver the ‘ReflectED Curriculum’ which gives children the skills to reflect on their learning and to self-assess what they need to do to progress.