Written by Kiayah Nolan

What is special about this week? 

This week is Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week! Here at The Tutor Trust, we acknowledge that Mental Health is important for everyone, especially children, as they grow and develop. This is most evident in our work on The Right Angle project where we work with our partner charity TLC (Talk, Listen, Change) to provide young people with a package of support that combines tutoring, to support academic achievement, in combination with counselling delivered by qualified counsellors from TLC.

There is a lot of evidence to suggest that a child’s mental health affects the ways in which they can learn, and therefore their academic outcomes, so we know that it is important for us to raise awareness about topics like this.

This Awareness Week has been organised by Place2Be, a charity focused on Children’s Mental Health.

The Tutor Trust has teamed up with Place2Be to provide our tutors and brand ambassadors with excellent training on mental health awareness and how to look out for the mental health of yourself and others. Last year 50 tutors and Tutor Trust staff completed the Place2Be’s children's mental health training which provides a deeper understanding of mental health.

Place2Be also provides us with professional development to give us, as tutors, the tools to look after our own mental health, which means we are in the best possible place to support the children that we are tutoring both emotionally and academically.

As tutors, we also have great support from our Lead Tutor Cailum Finnegan in all aspects of tutoring, as we continue to support some of the North West’s most disadvantaged young people.

 

What does the theme ‘Express Yourself’ mean?

This week’s specific theme is ‘Express Yourself’ – focusing on encouraging children, parents, and school staff to express their emotions and feelings to each other wherever possible. Place2Be suggests that this can be done via art, music, writing, poetry, film, drama, photography, or any activity which allows you to creatively express yourself and makes you feel good. They acknowledge that around three children in every primary school class has a mental health problem, and that encouraging children to express themselves can assist in alleviating these issues.

When we express our emotions they tend to feel less heavy, as we gain more perspective on them and understand them more. This is especially true for children, who are in the process of understanding feelings and emotions as they grow and develop.

 

How does The Tutor Trust encourage people to express themselves?

I have worked with The Tutor Trust for almost a year now and have been impressed with the environment cultivated for staff and students. The Tutor Trust has created an environment in which we are encouraged to express ourselves, as the charity has been open about its values of Equality and Diversity. In supporting movements such as Black Lives Matter, the LGBTQ+ community, and many more, the Tutor Trust has created an environment in which I as a tutor and brand ambassador feel that I am able to express my true self and be accepted. This ethos is of course passed down to the children that we work with, as The Tutor Trust strives to transform the lives of disadvantaged pupils through tutoring; regardless of their gender, race, or any part of their identity.

 

How can we encourage the students we work with to express themselves?

By finding creative ways to deliver learning we provide pupils with opportunities for expression. Our training focuses on the importance of building a relationship with a pupil in order to ensure that the climate for learning promotes confidence and enjoyment.

As tutors, there is a simple thing that we can do to encourage the children that we work with to express themselves. At the start of all my tuition sessions, I always ensure to ask the pupils ‘How are you?’. This is such a simple question, and only takes two minutes of our time, but can make a real difference as we encourage the pupils to express themselves. This also helps to build rapport and a good working relationship between the tutor and the pupil, which in turn encourages learning and allows students to explore ideas about the topic that they are working on in that session. Additionally, being aware of diversity & inclusion within the charity adds to this trusting relationship between tutor and pupils.

This small tip can also be used in our everyday lives, with our loved ones, colleagues etc. Take a few minutes this week to ask someone in your life ‘How are you doing?’ and encourage them to really answer and open up this line of conversation.