Kathryn Berkett, a Wellington based neuroscientist, presented to the Wairakei Primary School staff and to the wider Taupō community about the importance of building resilience in today's young people. “It’s a matter of building up our emotional ability to cope with many mini moments of ‘tolerable stress.” she says. “For children to be resilient they need to improve their ‘red brain’ ability to know what is a life threatening situation and what are usual challenges of life.” (https://www.lifeeducation.org.nz/neuroscienceandresilience)
Learning new skills and practising skills that we don’t feel confident doing, can provide students with opportunities to build resilience. Examples include learning to skip and practising for cross country.
As well as building resilience, exercise increases the production of endorphins, otherwise known as the happiness hormone. These hormones can boost our mood and self esteem. Exercise provides a non academic way to build resilience.
When the students first started running it was very difficult. Before our run we had to warm up the muscles and I explained that we did this to prevent injury. At first some students struggled to touch their toes and to do star jumps and mountain climbers. Now they all participate and their flexibility has increased. They persevered and showed resilience.
After only a few weeks the improvement in running was plain to see. Students were proud of their increase in laps. They all participated at their own level and showed resilience to keep going. In fact the students' enthusiasm for training accelerated and they were excited to start running.
Within the classroom, I noticed that students persevered in academic areas. For example, when a student said, I cant do this, I said, I cant do this yet. Adding the yet allows students to develop resilience, a can do attitude and self belief.
When we incorporate multiple opportunities to build resilience both inside and outside the classroom, we help and support students to cope with the many mini moments of tolerable stress, life will throw at them.