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 series on education exploring the primary curriculum, teaching and learning.

Personal, Social, Health and Economic education (PSHE)

Gov.uk (updated 2020) states: “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)

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:

  • Recognising and understanding your own emotions, strengths, weaknesses, and values.
  • Learning to regulate and control your emotions, impulses, and behaviours, including stress management, goal-setting, and self-discipline.
  • Developing empathy and the ability to understand and respect the feelings and perspectives of others.
  • Building and maintaining positive relationships, including effective communication, active listening, conflict resolution, and cooperation.
  • 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.

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Contact me by email 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

How Do You Learn?

Children’s Well-being and Mindfulness

Further reading

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

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, teaching and learning, and how educational publishers and children’s book publishers can benefit from my expertise.

 

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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Emailing

Contact me by email 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

How Do You Learn?

Philosophy for Children

Further reading

  1. https://learning.nspcc.org.uk/child-health-development/promoting-mental-health-wellbeing – NSPCC article on well-being
  2. https://www.bbcchildreninneed.co.uk/schools/primary-school/mindfulness-hub/ – BBC Children In Need Mindfulness Hub
  3. https://www.twinkl.co.uk/wellbeing/element/children-mindfulness – Twinkl mindfulness activities.

Gardening Your Business

gardening your business blog post

Do you ever think about how you garden your business? Gardening or growing your business should be both proactive and reflective.

Mindful gardening

This blog post was inspired by a whole day I spent on mindful gardening. It was organised by a good friend and she inspired me with her content. I could relate everything she said to running my freelance proofreading business, change, and the effects on my mental health.

The participants had access to a large garden with room for ten participants to sit with space, to be still, and to be silent.

It was a luxury to close my laptop for the day and just stop. Just. Be.

Gardening themes

We were guided by her short reflections on the theme of gardening:

  • seeds
  • plants
  • compost
  • pruning
  • seasons and weather

Planting seeds

The seed of my freelance business was planted in January 2017 when I launched my business website (proofnow.co.uk) and joined the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP).

I planted more seeds by training and telling everyone I knew that, having left teaching, I was looking for proofreading clients. I watered those seeds thoroughly with marketing and publicity.

Growing plants

If you’re lucky, those seeds grow into seedlings and become stronger plants.

What has helped you to grow in your life? How have you changed as a person as you have become older? How have your life events shaped and changed you?

My ‘toddler’ business got noticed as my marketing became stronger and more confident. I built on my training. Students, businesses and a charity became my clients. Voluntary proofreading gave me experience and confidence. I added to the testimonials on my website.

Feeding compost

Seedlings and plants thrive when they are given the appropriate compost, soil, and feed.

How do you feed your life? What nutrition does your life need to stay healthy physically and mentally?

How do you feed your business? What does your weekly or monthly feed routine look like? Do you ensure all the (plate-spinning) elements of running a business are in place: emailing clients, keeping up-to-date invoices and expenses, updating admin spreadsheets, marketing, doing CPD (training)?

Two years after starting my business, I started writing my blog. My posts demonstrate my expertise, specialisms, and experiences of running a business. These posts are shared on social media for a wider reach. They have aimed traffic (potential clients, other editors, and freelancers) to my website. It’s ‘Gro-Sure’ for my business!

Pruning

At regular times in the year, pruning is needed to keep plants under control, otherwise they become untidy, too big, and take moisture from smaller plants underneath or nearby. Plants can be trained through pruning to grow in a symmetrical, balanced way or in a certain direction. Or dead stems can be removed.

What have you cut or pruned in your life? What wasn’t working and had to be removed? How has your life changed direction? How did you preserve your physical and mental health? 

Every quarter I review the direction of my business. Looking back, I evaluate how much I have achieved of my annual plan and then review. I ask myself, what do I have to do more? What can I do less? The next quarter’s plan is tweaked. And my website is brought up to date.

I like the term ‘pivoting’. (Think of that scene in Friends when Ross is trying to get the sofa up the stairs with the ‘help’ of his friends. “Pivot! Pivot!”) It means a change in direction.

A life-changing prune happened in my life in December 2015 when I left the classroom with health issues. It took a year for me to work out what direction that prune would have on my family, career, and future. I had been the main wage earner during my 30-year teaching career.

I’m satisfied that what came next was the best outcome. That painful prune led to greatly improved mental health.

Patterns of seasons and weather

Winter, spring, summer and autumn give the garden it’s natural seasonal pattern and rhythm. Plants and people respond to different levels of light and warmth.

How do you feel when the number of daylight hours is at its lowest? What is your favourite season? When is your mood at its best?

What season is your business in? Sometimes I feel I’m in the springtime of my business: the number of clients is increasing; I am reaching out to publishers and accepting new, regular clients. I am reaching out to those clients I want to work with. Marketing is helping me to grow my business.

Do your clients react to seasons? Are some months quieter than others? Do some months need more marketing to attract clients? How do you plan for when there are quiet times in your business? In the gaps, can you take a spontaneous week’s holiday … or do some training?

How do you cope with a deluge of rain or storms? How do you juggle busy times when your services are in demand? Or when projects are delayed then land together? How do you schedule projects?

‘Twine’ to round up

How do we respond to the physical and mental hurly-burly of everyday life?

Have you got a garden? Does gardening help your mental health?

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Reading further

For a Quiet Garden near you: quietgarden.org/