ELSA - Emotional Literacy Support Assistants
Welcome to St Nicolas Junior school ELSA page- whether you’re thinking about requesting ELSA support for your child or you would just like some tips and activity ideas to further support your child’s emotional wellbeing; over the coming months we hope to create a page full of ideas and helpful advice on how you can help your child; for example in areas such as self-esteem, or perhaps to learn about calming techniques. We will also be recommending books that you may find useful and links to other websites for some self-help at home. Your school ELSA is Mrs Jeannie Tompsett who has been at St Nics since 2012 working with children in many different capacities- she is also trained in “drawing and talking” therapy and other relevant practises.
What is an ELSA and how do sessions run?
An ELSA is a specialist teaching assistant with a wealth of experience of working with children. ELSAs are trained and regularly supervised by the Educational psychologists in your local education authority.
An ELSA is a warm and caring person who wants to help your child feel happy in school and to reach their potential educationally. Their aim is to remove the barriers to learning and to have happy children in school and at home.
ELSA sessions last from 30-45 minutes once a week for a period of 6-10 weeks (this time scale may be adjusted, depending on the situation) and are planned to meet the specific needs of the individual child.
I like ELSA lessons because they have helped me with my fears, my friendship and my worries. I enjoy the craft and painting activities most. Mrs Tompsett has really helped and she is very kind and caring when I’m upset and she is always nice”- year 6 child
Supporting - not fixing
Remember, ELSAs are not there to fix children's problems. What we can do is provide emotional support and a listening ear.
We aim to establish a warm, respectful relationship with a pupil and to provide a reflective space where they feel able to share honestly their thoughts and feelings.
It needs to be appreciated that change cannot necessarily be achieved rapidly and 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 their difficulties, however support will be designed to target specific aspects of a child's need. Training and development of ELSAs is an ongoing process and wisdom is required to recognise when issues are beyond the level of expertise that could reasonably be expected of an ELSA- In these cases, school supports parents with referrals for specialist counselling, play therapy or to CAMHS. The Educational Psychologist that works with our school would be able to offer advice on suitability or nature of ELSA involvement in complex cases.
Support during lockdown
Mindfulness and relaxation techniques are more important now than ever. They are important for bringing focus back to an activity during feelings of stress and anxiety. These techniques can be as easy as a quick breathing exercise
Is your child struggling with worries or anxiety?
Please follow the links to useful pages for helping your child overcome anxiety: https://blogs.psychcentral.com/stress-better/2016/03/49-phrases-to-calm-an-anxious-child/
**** Recommended self-help anxiety book ! ****
What to Do When You Worry Too Much ( A kids guide to overcoming anxiety) by Dawn Huebner is an interactive self-help book designed to guide 6-12 year olds and their parents through the cognitive-behavioural techniques most often used during the support 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.
With children’s love for technology ever increasing, I have included a few useful links to free apps to support children's mental wellbeing.
Breathe, Think, Do With Sesame - a great introduction to mindfulness for younger grade-schoolers. With the help of a cute monster, kids learn calming breathing techniques to help them cope with potentially frustrating or distressing situations: putting on shoes, saying goodbye to parents, fixing a block tower, waiting in line, and going to sleep in the dark. Each scenario can be revisited, depending on your child’s particular struggles, and there’s also a parents’ section packed with tips and strategies.
Manatee & me – Kids can gain points as they work through their goals whether it’s boosting self-esteem and confidence or managing anxiety
Headspace – An everyday guide to health and happiness through mindfulness in just a few minutes a day
Follow this website link to NHS recommended apps https://www.nhs.uk/apps-library/category/mental-health/