Grief: Learning from Our Pets

Learning From Our Pets blog post

When it comes to the tricky subject of death, pets are able to teach us so much. Though we may not remember that first loss all too fondly, it shapes us in so many ways.

To give an example, I lost my pet goldfish Sidney at the age of eight. Initially, Sidney had been in a tank of his own with my brother’s new fish, but we had chosen to move both of them to the bigger tank with some of the other fish. Unfortunately, he had been unable to adapt and passed away the next day.

When my brother’s fish survived and mine didn’t, I felt it was very unfair. My brain had a vague understanding of death, but it couldn’t make sense of the fact that my fish had to be the unlucky one. Though Sidney wasn’t the first pet that I had lost, his loss was the first that - in hindsight - helped me to understand the five stages of the grieving process.

Respecting Nature

Respecting Nature blog image

In one of our most recent storybooks, ‘Rainbow’s Day Out’, we look to focus on how young children can respect their surroundings, particularly the natural world.

During the story, Rainbow goes to the countryside with their grandparents. As they go through the park, they discover all kinds of insects and plants. Rainbow goes to pick a flower, at which point their grandad explains the importance of leaving nature as we find it. He goes on to explain the importance of respecting wildlife. Emphasising that entities like plants and insects are not as insignificant as they may appear on the surface is a crucial, perhaps underappreciated part of positive child development.

Men's Mental Health: Why It's Okay to be Sad

Mental Health blog post

We are told all the time that our mental health is of paramount importance, and of course it absolutely is. The question is: are we doing enough to make this a world in which we can live and thrive in rather than merely exist?

The statistics in the UK make for grim reading and suggest that we are far from achieving anything close to this. According to the Mental Health Foundation, males are most at risk, with three times as many men committing suicide as women. Men are also much less likely to seek therapy or talk about their problems. The traditional British notion of keeping a ‘stiff upper lip’ in the face of adversity that stretches back to World War II is far more toxic than many of us may realize.

With a year of lockdowns behind us, it’s inevitable that things will feel significantly worse in the wake of that. As life begins to return to normal, however, we have the opportunity to build a world in which men do not have to adhere to the ‘strong, dominant breadwinner’ stereotype. Equally, women should not always have to adhere to the ‘stay-at-home mother’ stereotype that places so much unnecessary pressure on young girls. The world has changed so drastically in recent decades, so changing with it is crucial.

Watching The News With Children

Watching The News With Children Blog Post

In one of our new storybooks, ‘Purple Watches the News’, we look at ways in which we can help children process what they see on the news. The world may seem all doom and gloom at times, but there are positives that we can hone in on and show that, above all, the world is a beautiful place.

At the start of the story, Purple becomes very distressed at hearing the news, as it doesn't seem very positive. The news goes on to talk about a local car accident, at which point Purple begins to cry. She also states that she never wants to get into a car again.

It’s entirely natural and logical for a child to think that something is dangerous when only the negative aspects are shown. It would be impractical and pointless to show the cars that have driven safely to their destinations, so it’s important to stress that traumatic events like car accidents (for one example) are very infrequent, even if the news makes it seem otherwise.

Rethinking Education after COVID-19

Rethinking Education blog post

It seems obvious to point this out, but the pandemic has been hugely damaging for our collective wellbeing. Therefore, the recent report stating that children are falling behind in speech and understanding is not particularly surprising.

Though unsurprising, the situation is far from hopeless. One thing this pandemic has brought to light is the need to focus on mental wellbeing as a priority. Many would dismiss this as conjecture, or claim that this is easier said than done, but we only have to look at the academic success of countries like Finland where mental health is a priority.

ENGLAND: A Team To Be Proud Of

England 1decision Blog Post

When Bukayo Saka stepped up to take the decisive penalty that was ultimately saved, I couldn’t have felt prouder of what the England team had given us this summer. Trophy or not, it’s clear that England has a talented squad of young men to take them forward.

That said, it is with regard to matters beyond the pitch that this England team shines brightest. Not only have the vast majority overcome considerable barriers of class and race to get to where they are, they continue to do things that buck the trend of the stereotype of the detached footballer with more money than sense. Now we have some true heroes to believe in, regardless of what they do on the football pitch.

Ending Rape Culture: In Schools and Beyond

Ending Rape Culture blog post

Trigger warning: rape, abuse, eating disorders, self-harm, suicide, violent abuse, paedophilia, child abuse.

On 10 June 2021, a shocking Ofsted report emerged stating that some girls can be contacted by up to 11 boys a night asking for nude images. The report goes on to explain that many boys go on to create multiple accounts to harass women when they are initially blocked. Nine in ten girls also either experience sexist name calling, or are sent explicit photos/videos. The scary part of all of this is thinking about just how much goes unreported.

Children's Mental Health: Suffering in Silence

Children's Mental Health Blog Post

I think we can all agree that the conversation of mental health over recent years has definitely become more prominent than ever before, and it is incredibly heartwarming to see. Increased awareness of mental illness itself is so important, and it is fantastic to see schools have started to incorporate the discussion within the classroom.

Although this is a great step forward, it poses the question - is children's mental health talked about enough or are we simply ticking a box? When mental health is discussed, it is usually related and catered to young adults who are struggling, but what about children who struggle with these issues? What guidance can they find to help them with their struggles?

As it is such a complex issue, children need to first understand the concept of mental health to truly gauge how it works and how it can affect people uniquely.

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