Some children 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.
The Emotional Literacy Support Assistant at Charles Dickens school has been trained by Educational Psychologists in Southwark to plan and deliver programmes of support for 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, we use a range of activities such as: games, role-play, arts and craft and mindfulness meditation. These help to:
- Encourage co-operation with others.
- Build self-esteem through positive social interaction.
- Demonstrate effective social behaviour.
- Create imaginary situations to discuss the feelings of others.
- Use age appropriate story telling as a tool. Various aspects of emotional matters and development can be explored in a safe way.
ELSA sessions take place in our very own ‘Reading room’ 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
- Developing 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 on occasion the SENCo. Every half term we meet with Deputy Headteacher in charge of pastoral care, Mr Eggleton, to discuss the referral forms and 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.
The overall aim is to equip the children that require the ELSA intervention with strategies to self-manage some of their emotional needs. The ELSA programme is not designed to fix children’s problems but to provide emotional support to help them to continue access learning through life’s ups and downs.
We aim to establish a warm, respectful relationship with a pupil and to provide a reflective space where they are able to share their thoughts and feelings honestly without judgement.
It needs to be appreciated that change can be very gradual. For children with complex or long-term needs it is unrealistic to expect ELSA intervention to resolve all their difficulties, however support will target specific aspects of a child’s need after consultation with their teachers and parents. On occasion, a child may experience issues that are beyond the level of expertise that could reasonably be expected of an ELSA and in these cases, the Educational Psychologist that works with our school would be able to offer advice on the suitability of ELSA involvement.