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School Leaders, Teachers

Reading the way to better wellbeing

The National Literacy Trust report that children who are most engaged with literacy have better wellbeing than their peers. They also report that the children who are the most engaged with Literacy are three times more likely to have higher levels of mental wellbeing than those who are the least engaged.

With that in mind, and now that mental wellbeing is such a prominent issue in our schools, especially linked to the pandemic, we really need to think about ensuring our learners are engaged with Literacy, in order to not only improve learning, but improve mental wellbeing too. Books can act as a powerful wellbeing tool in their own right.

Being able to read not only enables children to access the curriculum, engage with their learning and achieve in an academic sense but also unlocks many hidden benefits.

Books provide a world of opportunity for children to escape from their worries and learn to deal with complicated situations and emotions they may otherwise not encounter. Engaging with many different characters also helps children develop important empathy skills, as well as learn about other cultures and relationships; it can at times also help children feel less alone.

So, how can we improve attitudes to reading, in turn hopefully having an impact on our children’s mental wellbeing?

One of the first things to do is look at what the attitudes to reading look like in your school. A great tool for this is an online programme called Bounce Together which, via a quick online survey, will give insightful data on the children’s attitude to reading. From this, you have a great baseline to see which children struggle with their attitudes to reading and can implement an approach to suit. Not only that, but if you complete the survey again after intervention has been implemented, you will be able to see the impact you have made on these attitudes, hopefully resulting in better attitudes to reading, and in turn, better mental wellbeing in the long term. This data is great to share with staff, governors and even OFSTED.

For children who have poor attitudes to reading, there’s lots of things that we can do to improve this. Some great suggestions are as follows:

  • A Reading Therapy Dog – These are great for improving attitudes! We have been using a therapy dog at our school for the last few years and it’s had a huge impact! Children who hated reading previously have completely changed their opinion, thanks to reading to our therapy dog, Logan. At our school, we use a charity called Therapy Dogs Nationwide, but there are lots of different organisations offering a similar service, or you could even train up and  get your own school dog assessed to work with children!
  • Improve Your Reading For Pleasure Strategy – There’s lots of ways you can improve reading for pleasure in school, in turn improving the attitudes of children to reading. Our reading for pleasure guide demonstrates how you can easily implement a whole school approach to reading. You can download this great FREE resource by clicking- Here
  • Look At Your Classroom Environment – In order to encourage children to read, you need to ensure you have a great environment in which to do this. Inviting reading corners, lovely libraries, reading recommendation areas, book talk and wonderful displays can all help this! One of my favourite suggestions is a ‘These Books Were Banned’ display. This is always a sure-fire way to get children to read!

The above are just a couple of things you can try to ‘read your way to better wellbeing.’ To find out more make sure to join our upcoming webinar on Thursday 3rd March at 7pm, where we will explore this further and look at more hints and tips to help improve attitudes to reading, and thus better mental wellbeing, in your school.

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