Philosophy for Children

The following areas of the primary curriculum are covered in this post:

  • Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE)
  • Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)
  • Philosophy for Children (P4C).

Tall Tartan Talks here … This post continues my education series which starts with Why I Tutor.

This post on Philosophy for Children leads on from Children’s Well-being and Mindfulness. See the links at the end to other posts in this series.

Personal, Social, Health and Economic education (PSHE)

The UK Department for Education website (updated 2020) states: Personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education is an important and necessary part of all pupils’ education. All schools should teach PSHE, drawing on good practice.

[ … ] Schools should seek to use PSHE education to build, where appropriate, on the statutory content already outlined in the national curriculum, the basic school curriculum and in statutory guidance on drug education, financial education, sex and relationship education (SRE) and the importance of physical activity and diet for a healthy lifestyle.

Agreed – vital!

Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)

Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) refers to the process through which children acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to understand and manage their emotions, build and maintain positive relationships, make responsible decisions, and navigate social situations.

SEL includes:

  1. Recognising and understanding your own emotions, strengths, weaknesses, and values.
  2. Learning to regulate and control your emotions, impulses, and behaviours, including stress management, goal-setting, and self-discipline.
  3. Developing empathy and the ability to understand and respect the feelings and perspectives of others.
  4. Building and maintaining positive relationships, including effective communication, active listening, conflict resolution, and cooperation.
  5. Developing the ability to make ethical and responsible choices, considering the well-being of yourself and others, including problem-solving and critical thinking skills.

Research has shown that SEL can have a positive impact on academic performance, behaviour, mental health, and long-term success, as children who are emotionally and socially competent are better equipped to handle challenges and build positive relationships.

Philosophy for Children (P4C)

Defining Philosophy for Children

P4C is an approach to teaching and learning that explores the big ideas that arise in all areas of education and life experience. P4C uses philosophical dialogue and enquiry to help learners to think, to speak, to listen, to learn and to live together more effectively.

SAPERE: Society for the Advancement of Philosophical Enquiry and Reflection in Education; the UK’s national charity for Philosophy for Children (P4C). See the link at the end.

Purpose of Philosophy for Children

P4C is a subject which helps children of all ages think for themselves through philosophical dialogue with others. To encourage them to develop strategies for thinking, to be independent thinkers, but also to co-operate, as well as accept that others may have a different point of view.

Teaching P4C in the classroom

I discovered P4C when I was teaching a Year 4 class (8–9 year olds) in Essex, UK. The Headteacher of the school asked me to go on a course about teaching Philosophy. The course was six half days, (one half a day a week for 6 weeks). The two leaders borrowed a Year 5 class to practise with.

Fascinated, I learnt so many skills that I used their techniques weekly in lessons for years after as a way to encourage discussion, debate, healthy questioning and enquiry.

I started an after-school club called P4C. It was aimed at Key Stage 2 children (7–11 year olds). My P4C Club enjoyed using a bank of resources, including a wide range of games and subjects for debate that were philosophical in nature.

Encouraging philosophical discussion

P4C encourages discussion with a philosophical lean using:

  • stimuli for enquiries including stories, images, videos, poems, and picture books.
  • activities to get everyone involved in speaking, listening, and working as a community.
  • create a thoughtful space, build a supportive and challenging community, and develop questioning.

Debating philosophy

One of the P4C activities was to encourage debate.

  • In my role as facilitator / chairperson, I encouraged skills of debating deeper by asking why. Explanations, agreement, or opposition were expressed in an ongoing, respectful fashion.
  • Through each debate their opinions became more informed, with better, more reflective reasoning. Mainly they were safe in the knowledge that, if they could explain why, they were entitled to their opinion.

Specialising in education

This education series reflects on my former role as a teacher in the primary classroom. It relates to my specialism of proofreading educational materials. It emphasises my interest in promoting curiosity in children – and adults.

lightbulb of ideas
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See the links to the other posts in my series on education and teaching:

Why I Tutor

How I Teach English

How I Teach Maths

How Do You Learn

Children’s Well-being and Mindfulness

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Subscribe to my blog to receive new posts directly to your email.

Email

Contact me to check my availability for proofreading non-fiction, education books and children’s books.

Read further

  • PSHE Association: https://pshe-association.org.uk/
  • Philosophy for Children, Colleges and Communities. Introduces educators to P4C which helps learners to be critical, creative, caring and collaborative thinkers: www.sapere.org.uk
  • The Searchable Library of P4C Resources has free P4C resources, designed, tried and tested by experienced teachers, SAPERE trainers and children of all ages.
  • – The International Council of Philosophical Inquiry with Children: https://www.icpic.org/

Children’s Well-being and Mindfulness

 When I taught in the primary classroom, it was vital for me to promote children’s mental well-being, boost self-esteem, and encourage mindfulness.

It is still important to me.

Tall Tartan Talks here … I continue my education series exploring the primary curriculum, which starts with Why I Tutor.

 

Well-being

More than ever children (and adults) need support to look after their mental health and well-being.

Promoting a child’s well-being involves creating a supportive environment that nurtures their physical, emotional, social, and cognitive development. They should feel worthy.

 

When supporting the well-being of a child, whether at home or at school, here are key strategies:

  • Foster a healthy relationship by encouraging positivity. Promote open communication, active listening, empathy, and a growth mindset. A growth mindset is when failure is viewed as good (leading to improvement), not bad.
  • Help them recognise and express their emotions. Teach them coping mechanisms such as deep breathing. Create a nurturing and non-judgemental environment where they feel comfortable discussing their feelings.
  • Create a stimulating environment that encourages curiosity. Offer age-appropriate activities that promote cognitive development. Engage in conversations, ask open-ended questions, and encourage critical thinking.
  • Establish routines and boundaries by giving consistent routines and clear boundaries to provide them with a sense of security and stability. Set reasonable expectations and rules while allowing room for autonomy and decision-making.
  • Support their efforts towards independence. Allow them to develop self-confidence and a sense of competence.
  • Be a positive role model by modelling positive behaviour, such as kindness, respect, and resilience.
  • Demonstrate healthy ways of managing stress and conflicts to teach children effective coping mechanisms.

 

Once a child is aware of the state of their mental health and well-being, they can maintain a feeling of wellness and positivity by practising mindfulness.

 

Mindfulness

Here are some strategies to help children develop mindfulness and promote their self-awareness and present-moment focus. These strategies help them to cope with feelings of overwhelm. These strategies work for adults too!

 

Mindful breathing

Teach children to pay attention to their breath by taking slow, deep breaths and noticing the sensation of the air entering and leaving their bodies. Encourage them to do this for a few minutes each day, especially when they feel stressed or overwhelmed.

 

Being aware of body

Guide children in bringing awareness to different parts of their body. They can do simple exercises like stretching or yoga poses while paying attention to how their bodies feel in each position. This helps them develop a connection between their minds and bodies.

 

Mindful listening

Encourage children to listen carefully to sounds around them. They can close their eyes and focus on identifying different sounds, such as birds chirping, leaves rustling, other voices, or even their own breath. This practice enhances their ability to be fully present and attentive.

 

Practising gratitude

Teach children to increase gratitude by reflecting on things they are thankful for. This can be done through daily gratitude journals or by sharing what they appreciate during mealtime or bedtime routines. It helps shift their focus to the positive aspects of life.

 

Mindful walking

Guide children to take mindful walks, where they pay attention to the sensations of each step. Encourage them to observe their surroundings, look up at the sky, notice the colours, textures, and sounds, and feel the ground beneath their feet.

 

Mindfulness games

Introduce fun mindfulness games and activities designed for children. For example, ‘mindful colouring’ where they engage while focusing on the present moment.

 

Using guided meditation

Use age-appropriate guided meditations or mindfulness apps that offer guided sessions tailored for children. These resources can help children relax, improve focus, and develop mindfulness skills.

 

Being a role model

Children learn by observing the adults around them. Practice mindfulness yourself and demonstrate mindful behaviours in your daily life. This sets an example for them to follow and encourages them to incorporate mindfulness into their own routines.

 

Remember, consistency is key when helping children develop mindfulness. Encourage them to practice by making sure it remains enjoyable and not forced.

 

By doing a variety of the activities above, the child will:

  • Recognise and acknowledge when different emotions arise.
  • Realise how to manage difficult emotions such as anxiety, overwhelm and anger.
  • Empower themselves to deal with life’s challenges.
  • Become more emotionally resilient.
  • Create a more positive mindset.

 

Support a child by helping them to put their worries into perspective – therefore boosting their self-esteem. Failing does not make them a failure. Failing is the first step to success. Assure them that they are worthy.

Giving the child self-help techniques will help promote a willingness to learn. In my experience children can’t learn if they are worrying. Isn’t that true of all of us?

As a freelance proofreader, one of my proofreading specialisms is the non-fiction genre of well-being, mental health, and mindfulness.

 

Children's well-being and mindfulness. You are worthy.
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See the links to the other posts in my series on education and teaching:

Why I Tutor

How I Teach English

How I Teach Maths

Philosophy for Children

 

Subscribe

Subscribe to my blog to receive new posts directly to your email.

Email

Contact me to check my availability for proofreading non-fiction, education books and children’s books.

 

Read further

  1. NSPCC – Well-being: https://learning.nspcc.org.uk/child-health-development/promoting-mental-health-wellbeing
  2. Young Minds – Fighting for young people’s mental health: https://www.youngminds.org.uk/https://www.youngminds.org.uk/
  3. BBC Children In Need – Mindfulness: https://www.bbcchildreninneed.co.uk/schools/primary-school/mindfulness-hub/
  4. Twinkl – Mindfulness: https://www.twinkl.co.uk/wellbeing/element/children-mindfulness

How Do You Learn?

 

How Do You Learn blog post

When I taught primary children in classrooms  a method of pedagogy called VAK learning was practised to maximise the opportunities for all learners to access and engage with the curriculum.

Tall Tartan Talks here … In this blog post I talk about VAK learning. This is part of my blog series about education, teaching and tuition.

What is VAK?

The acronym VAK stands for Visual Auditory Kinaesthetic.

In my role as a classroom educator, I asked myself:

  • How can I use language, vocabulary and sounds to help this new material be remembered?
  • How could physical movement help?
  • Am I encouraging depth in the learner’s experiences?

How do children learn?

Some children find the ability to learn comes easily.  Some are able to concentrate for long periods, e.g. when reading. Some relish solving Maths problems. Some can hear and follow instructions efficiently; others need to fidget with something in their hands as they learn.

Children will not use one sensory approach to the exclusion of all others, yet they will learn more effectively if their needs are met.

How do adults learn?

By the time we are adult, we have more idea of which learning style suits the way our brains work.

For those of us continuing learning as an adult, we are able to tweak our strategies to find the best way to study and to absorb new information.

If you understand which is your preferred learning style, then you’ll make it easier on yourself to study and learn.

Three main learning styles

  • Visual
  • Auditory
  • Kinaesthetic

What kind of learner are you?

Visual: If you lean towards this learning style, you will prefer to see and observe things. You’ll typically work best from lists, written directions, and instructions.

Auditory: If you lean towards this learning style, you will prefer the transfer of information to be through the spoken word, or through sounds, noises, or music.

Kinaesthetic: If you lean towards this learning style, you will prefer a practical hands-on approach. You’ll prefer the physical experience, wanting to experiment and do first, rather than read the instructions.

Visual style of learning

visual learner

If you are a visual learner, you learn by reading or seeing pictures. You understand and remember things by sight. You can picture what you are learning in your head. You learn best by using methods that are visual. You like to see what you are learning. You often close your eyes to visualize or remember something. You may have difficulty with spoken directions and may be easily distracted by sounds.

Auditory style of learning

listen

If you are an auditory learner, you learn by hearing and listening. You understand and remember things you have heard. You store information by the way it sounds, and you have an easier time understanding spoken instructions than written ones. You often learn by hearing it or speaking it, in order to take it in. You need to hear things, not just see things, to learn.

Kinaesthetic style of learning

If you are a kinaesthetic learner, you learn by touching and doing. You understand and remember things through physical movement. You are a ‘hands-on’ learner who prefers to touch or move while you learn. You tend to learn better when some type of physical activity is involved. You need to be active and take frequent breaks. You often speak with your hands and with gestures.

You learn best by doing, not just by reading, seeing, or hearing.

learn

Ways to teach using VAK

The VAK approach engages different levels of cognitive challenge in every curriculum subject.

Once I taught a class who enjoyed using VAK to represent punctuation marks (using Punctuation Karate!). Quite simply, they used their arms and hands to represent the marks, e.g. a full stop was a clenched fist thrust forward … Saying ‘full stop’ aloud along with the karate action helped them remember to insert a full stop at the end of a sentence.

The VAK tool is an effective way of ensuring that you balance and broaden your range when educating children (as a teacher or parent).

Teach children to see it, hear it, do it, and be curious about it.

 

any questions

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Subscribe

Subscribe to my blog to receive new posts directly to your email.

Email

Contact me to check my availability for proofreading non-fiction, education books and children’s books.

Education blog posts

See the links to the other posts in my series on education and teaching:

Why I Tutor

How I Teach English

How I Teach Maths

Children’s Well-being and Mindfulness

Philosophy for Children

Further website links

Here is a link to a learning style questionnaire from the Open University: https://help.open.ac.uk/learning-style-activity