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The two-year project, made possible thanks to a grant of £50,000 from education charity SHINE, plans to involve more than 600 early years children across Liverpool schools.
Using innovative teaching methods, the youngsters will be taught skills such as how to focus their thinking, regulate strong emotions, adapt to difficult and stressful circumstances, be patient for what they want and bounce back when things get difficult.
Evidence shows that in order to be successful in learning, children need to be able to regulate their emotions.
As part of the project, which is being led by Whitefield Primary School in Everton, children and their parents will use a mobile app called TakeTen, which is designed to make people of all ages resilient to stress.
The app measures the child’s heart rate, then reveals pieces of a puzzle as their heart rate drops, as an incentive to calm down.
Parents will also be encouraged to use the app and attend workshops aimed at helping both them and their children to deal with stressful situations, so that children receive consistent support both in the classroom and at home.
Teaching staff will be coached in the principles and language of handling emotions and children will be given a structure in the classroom that will help them understand how they are feeling, and how that influences them in everything they do.
“A lot of the difficult behaviour children exhibit comes of them not knowing how to manage their emotions. A child might feel angry because another child has taken their toy, so their instinct is to push back.
“If we look at the context that child might have come from, it may well be that their behaviour is because they’ve had difficulties in their own relationships, or they are struggling with things in their own life, or they have neurodiversity.
“This project is about developing that set of life skills that every child needs. We believe that if we start early, then it can be really effective throughout the rest of school, helping those children to succeed.
“Our feeling was that that’s all very well in school. But as soon as they leave Whitefield and go off to secondary or at home, a lot of the work we do can be undone. That’s why we need to start doing work in the early years, with parents, so that they come on that journey with us.
“We want to work very much in partnership with parents, because if they work with us on this, the impact will be much longer lasting.
“We plan to develop some training for parents and some workshops and sessions to run the programme robustly in school, as well in early years, and to see what sort of impact that has on the children’s progress.
“When children are distracted, or feeling anxious, they are not able to learn. If they are able to regulate their behaviour, then they can progress in their lessons.”
Ms Beale said the grant from SHINE would be “transformational”. She added: “We’re really proud that we’ve been able to access the funding, because our school budget is really limited and we do struggle. Without this funding we simply couldn’t have allocated a member of staff to this project.”
“We know that children thrive at school when they are supported to develop good emotional health and resilience, and we also believe in the power of parents and schools working together to support children in the very best ways.
“SHINE are thrilled to be supporting this important and innovative project, and we are very much looking forward to seeing the impact in Everton and beyond.”
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