ELSA – Together we can make a difference…
So...what is ELSA?
It actually stands for Emotional Literacy Support Assistance. In a nutshell, there will always be children in schools facing life challenges. These situations and the emotions that follow detract their ability to engage with learning effectively - our ELSAs in school help our children get through these struggling times. Some children require greater support than others and need a range of tools/strategies to increase their emotional literacy and resilience. ELSA is an initiative that was originally developed and supported by Educational Psychologists in Southampton and they recognised that children learn better and are much happier in school, if their emotional needs are addressed.
We are lucky to have a qualified Emotional Literacy Support Assistant at Great Binfields Primary - Mrs Teasdale. She has been trained by Educational Psychologists to plan and deliver programmes of support for pupils who are experiencing temporary or longer term emotional needs. Mrs Pearce one of our experienced LSAs is waiting to start her training to become an ELSA too.
The majority of ELSA work in school is delivered on an individual basis, but sometimes small group work is more appropriate, especially in the areas of social and friendship skills. Sessions are based in Ivy Room, a calm, welcoming, safe space for the child to feel supported and nurtured. The sessions are fun and we use a range of activities such as: games, role-play with puppets or therapeutic activities such as mindfulness or arts and craft.
In ELSA we aim to provide support for a wide range of emotional needs:
Loss and bereavement
How does ELSA work?
Children are usually referred for ELSA support by their Class Teacher, Senior Leaders or on occasion by the SENCo. Every half term our ELSAs will meet with Miss Lyddon to discuss the referral forms, to identify and prioritise which children require a 6 week programme. With the programme aims in mind, they then plan support sessions to develop new skills and coping strategies that allow our children to manage social and emotional demands more effectively.
Supporting - not fixing
Remember, ELSAs are not there to fix children's problems and they are not counsellors. They provide emotional support for children. Our ELSAs aim to establish a warm, respectful relationship with a pupil and provide a reflective space where they
are able to share their thoughts and feelings honestly.
It needs to be appreciated that change cannot be achieved rapidly and success is dependent upon the context and complexity of the presenting issues. For children with complex or long-term needs it is unrealistic to expect ELSA intervention to resolve all difficulties, however support will be designed to target specific aspects of the child's needs.
Training and development of ELSAs is an ongoing process at GBP. A great deal of wisdom is required as well in order to recognise when specific issues are beyond the level of expertise of an ELSA. In these cases, school signposts parents/carers via referrals for specialist counselling, play therapy or to CAMHS. The Educational Psychologist that works with our school has regular supervision sessions with our ELSA, and is able to offer advice with complex cases.
Individual objectives are set with the child in partnership with the parent/carer, school SENCo and Class Teacher. ELSA sessions provide the time and space for validation of the child’s feelings and there are plenty of opportunities to work towards a solution.
Follow the link below for some useful guidance on helping your child overcome anxieties:
**** Recommended self-help anxiety book ****
What to Do When You Worry Too Much ( A child's guide to overcoming anxiety) by Dawn Huebner is an interactive self-help book designed to guide 6-12 year olds and their parents/carers through the cognitive-behavioural techniques most often used in the treatment of generalised anxiety. Engaging, encouraging, and easy to follow, this book educates, motivates, and empowers children to work towards change. We have used this book at school and have found it a very useful tool.
******* A Recommended book about worries *******
The Huge Bag of Worries written by Virginia Ironside is a brilliant book exploring emotions and wellbeing. Worry follows Jenny in a big blue bag, it's around wherever she goes, even when relaxing and watching TV! Will Jenny get the help she needs to rid of the worry?
Parental Advice on Anger Management
Help with those 'hot feelings' - some tips and information for parents/guardians about managing anger in children:
**** Recommended anger management book ****
An anger management story for children written by Lori Lite. Children relate to the angry octopus in this story as the sea child shows him how to take a deep breath, calm down, and manage his anger. Children love to unwind and relax with this fun exercise known as progressive muscular relaxation. This effective stress and anger management technique focuses awareness on various muscle groups and breath to create a complete resting of the mind and body. This is a great little story to help children understand that they are in control of their emotions. It focuses on the ownership of feelings and emotions and taking command of the situation. We use this book in ELSA sessions and is fun and very effective!
**** A new anger management book ! ****
This book uses CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) at its core to help younger children understand their angry feelings and make the necessary changes to regulate their emotions. The book was written by Luke Baker, a former ELSA! The book is about The Red family and their youngest member Rory. Rory Red is very angry all of the time. He wants to change but is told by both parents that ‘It is just who you are.’ Rory wants to change and one day meets a new friend Yasmine Yellow. Yasmine shows him the way and helps him to understand how he can change.
The book leads the child through the different stages of anger such as triggers: ‘someone being mean to him’, ‘when he can’t go out to play because it is raining’, ‘when he isn’t allowed his dessert’. It takes the child through the physical effects of anger such as breathing heavier, his heart beating harder and faster. It also looks at Rory’s thoughts such as: ‘hit them!’ ‘break something!’ ‘say bad words!’. Yasmine helps him by suggesting different calming techniques to help him cope with his anger.
Delightful, simple illustrations that children will love. The language is simple and easy to understand. This book would be perfect for EYFS, KS1 and possibly even Lower KS2.
The death of a parent or sibling is a devastating situation for a child, but with the right support at the right time, delivered in the right way, we know these children can go on to lead full and flourishing lives.
A website to support children and families when someone close has died. https://www.winstonswish.org
****** A recommended activity book to help a child with their thoughts and feelings when someone has died *****
This book offers a structure and an outlet for the many difficult feelings which inevitably follow when someone dies. It aims to help children make sense of their experience by reflecting on the different aspects of their grief, whilst finding a balance between remembering and having fun. This book is a useful companion in the present, and will become an invaluable keepsake in the years to come.