The class was a mixed age class of 10 Year 1 (5-6-year olds) and 16 Year 2 (6-7 year olds) children. The children have a wide range of abilities from those working above age related expectations to those working below. There were 12 children for whom English was an additional language and 3 children who had specific SEND needs.
Almost 50% of the class were EAL (English as an Additional Language) children. Some were confident English speakers, but the majority were still grasping the English language or had recently arrived in the country with little or no English. There was also a large percentage of the class who had Speech and Language issues and/or processing issues. A couple of the children had low self-esteem and confidence issues which resulted in them being reluctant to try new activities or make mistakes.
What we did
The children took park in weekly movement therapy sessions that included Yoga, Tai Chi, breath work and games with a specific mental or emotional objective targeted. The sessions were age appropriate and included motivating resources such as cuddly toys, parachutes and puppets.
There was a noticeable improvement over the course of the year for the whole class in terms of their concentration and focus skills. At the end of each session, the children were calmer and more focused. The careful and intentional movements involved in each session had improved the children’s balance and coordination skills. This was evident from observing the children within PE sessions each week. The EAL and SEND children were able to access the content of each session through observing and copying movements and as a result their confidence and communication skills were developed. The children with low-esteem glowed with pride at the end of a session particularly when they had held a new pose or carried out a sequence successfully.
The children’s concentration and listening skills improved over the course of the year. This meant that they were able to concentrate more fully on lessons. The children enjoyed each session and the practical nature of the activities meant that all the children were able to participate and feel included regardless of their academic ability.
Staff all noted how calm and focused the children were at the end of each session which is quite an achievement on a Friday afternoon!
The sessions will continue every week for each class. There is potential for teaching staff to apply some of techniques into everyday class routines to support wellbeing across the school and those with SEMH needs.