During their time at school, children are taught many things alongside the traditional subjects of reading, writing and maths. One of these is developing children’s emotional literacy. This is children’s ability to recognise, understand, handle and appropriately express emotions. Some children are instinctively in tune with their feelings and emotions and will be ready to deal with new/ different situations/ people more easily: others may need a bit more help. At school this is mostly done through our PSHCE lessons. Occasionally some children need more support, and this is where ELSA comes in.
What is ELSA?
There will always be children and young people in schools facing life challenges that detract from their ability to engage with learning. Some will require greater support to increase their emotional literacy than others. ELSA is an initiative developed and supported by educational psychologists. It recognises that children learn better and are happier in school if their emotional needs are also addressed.
We are fortunate to have two qualified Emotional Literacy Support Assistants (ELSA) at Exton & Greetham CE Primary School. Mrs Wingrove and Mrs Honan have been trained by Educational Psychologists to plan and deliver programmes of support to pupils who are experiencing temporary or longer term additional emotional needs. The majority of ELSA work 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 fun using a range of activities such as: games, role-play with puppets or arts and craft. ELSA sessions usually take place in the library which provides a calm, safe space for the child to feel supported and nurtured.
In ELSA we aim to provide support for a wide range of emotional needs:
- Recognising emotions
- Social skills
- Friendship skills
- Anger management
- Loss and bereavement
How does ELSA work?
Children are usually referred for ELSA support by their Class Teacher, Senior Leaders or the SENDCo. Every half term, referrals are reviewed to identify and prioritise which children require a weekly programme for the next 6-8 weeks. With the programme aims in mind we then plan support sessions to facilitate the pupil in developing new skills and coping strategies that allow them to manage social and emotional demands more effectively.
Supporting - not fixing
Remember, ELSAs are not there to fix children's problems. What we can do is provide emotional support.
We aim to establish a warm, respectful relationship with a pupil and to provide a reflective space where they are able to share honestly their thoughts and feelings.
Helping children become more emotionally literate will help them to blossom into happy confident, resilient adults with positive mental health, well-being and quality of life. What better gift can we give them?
Useful Links for ELSA support linked to different emotions
Feeling Anxious or worried?
Grateful and Happy