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Classroom Activities Proven Wellbeing Boosters

New research shows locally developed wellbeing activities are making a real difference in the lives of Kiwi kids.

Sparklers, an online wellbeing resource for teachers, was created by the All Right? Campaign following the Canterbury earthquakes to support child wellbeing. The activities are now used by primary and intermediate school teachers all over New Zealand.

New research has found that Sparklers activities are having a positive impact on students’ social and emotional learning. The activities are helping tamariki manage their emotions, feel good, be kind and build better relationships.

The report, conducted by Ihi Research, comprised of two eight-week long qualitative case studies at Christchurch schools, and a nationwide online survey which was completed by 137 teachers, school leaders and school support staff.

Key results include:

  • 99% believed Sparklers reduced anti-social behaviours, including bullying.
  • 93% said using Sparklers has helped create an emotionally supportive classroom.
  • 91% said Sparklers improved the emotional climate in the classroom.
  • 90% agreed that Sparklers has made a positive difference to students.
  • 88% said Sparklers helped to create an inclusive environment for learning.
  • 77% believed Sparklers helped prepare students for learning.
  • 74% said Sparklers helped regulate energy levels in the classroom.

Lead Sparkler Anna Mowat says teachers have embraced the free online toolkit since it was created in 2017.

“We get a lot of great feedback from teachers but this is the first time we’ve had data on the impact it’s having at a national level. The findings have blown us away.”

“One of the school’s studied on the research said Sparklers helped turn their school around – completely changing the school’s dynamic and culture.”

Teacher Kiri Anngow’s Year 5/6 class at Waimairi School was part of the indepth qualitative research, alongside Lynley Cummack’s new entrant class. Their students did Sparklers activities at least four times a week, and the impact of activities was measured against classes at Waimairi that didn’t do Sparklers.

Kiri Anngow says over 43% of children in the intervention group used a Sparklers strategy to ‘resolve difficult situations with friends’.

“The control group didn’t really change much, which was fantastic as it reinforced to us that Sparklers was working,” says Lynley Cummack.

Kiri also took notes on three children within the Sparklers group, to monitor their behaviours.

“We noticed their understanding of emotions and the language that they used improved,” says Kiri.

“I think we can honestly say their emotional literacy developed. They were also able to identify the things they needed to do individually when they felt a certain emotion, like anxiety for example.”

“We tried to balance the energising and physical games with the calmer ones, and I would play the energising ones in the morning to prepare them for learning, and then after lunch, I would do things like the body scan, to calm them down,” says Kiri.

Anna says she was pleasantly surprised about how positive Sparklers has been for those who may be struggling or who have behavioural issues.

The research shows that using Sparklers has increased the participation of students with severe behavioural issues in the classroom. The report also states that Sparklers has the potential to reduce bullying in schools.

“One of the things that makes Sparklers unique is that the activities are for everyone in a classroom, and not just those who have typically required more intensive, one-on-one interventions.

“Over the course of our lives we all face obstacles, and the earlier we learn coping strategies, the better we’re able to respond. Sparklers works as it recognises that we all benefit from learning how to cope with life’s challenges.”

The research was funded by the Mental Health Foundation

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