A Welsh primary school has adapted its Family Thrive sessions to run online to help support and connect with its parents and carers during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Family Thrive is a series of six sessions which are tailored for groups of parents and carers whose children have Thrive support available to them in school or elsewhere. The sessions are led by a course leader and cover things like: how our brains develop; the sort of triggers that may affect children; understanding behaviour and what it may be trying to communicate as well as Thrive-related activities which can be done at home. The idea is to help parents and carers to support their children’s mental and emotional health and to extend the Thrive Approach into the home, as well as embedding it in school.
Dewstow Primary School, in Monmouthshire, embarked on its Thrive journey in 2016. The Approach is now embedded across the school and is resulting in significant benefits for children in terms of behaviour and attendance. Last year, the school started doing Family Thrive sessions facilitated by the school’s Thrive Lead, Laura Nicholson, so that children could benefit from a consistent approach in school and at home. Family Thrive sessions would normally take place face-to-face but this year, Laura has been running sessions virtually because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Things have been hard and we know that lots of families are feeling disconnected from their usual networks and running Family Thrive virtually felt like the right thing to do to bring our community closer together and to share our understanding of the Approach,” said Laura, pictured above.
Parents were contacted via Class Dojo – a communication platform which links parents and teachers – to ask if they would like to take part in the course. The resources that would normally be made available to participants every week were given out separately in plastic wallets so that they could be quarantined before use. As well as weekly handout sheets with information about the course, these folders also included all the resources such as playdough that parents needed for course activities. Laura also added a pack of biscuits which would normally be enjoyed over a cuppa to emphasise the relational aspect of Family Thrive.
Feedback from parents and carers has been extremely positive and the school is already planning to run a virtual Family Thrive course per term in 2021.
“Parents are saying that they have been able to see their child’s behaviour through a different lens and be more compassionate and empathic with them as a result of doing the course,” said Laura.
“They have talked about how Family Thrive has changed their approach when their children become dysregulated or anxious. They have said that they can now take more of a relational approach and that where they might have shouted before, they are handling things differently and situations are getting resolved in a better way.”
She added: “We had some amazing feedback from parents. I did wonder about whether we would be able to create the same sense of connection as we have face-to-face but I think people have got used to using Zoom and other virtual meeting platforms. We found the sessions had a really relaxed atmosphere and we did all connect to the point where we have said that in better times we will meet up face-to-face and have a coffee morning.”
To find out more about Family Thrive click here