KidsMatter

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Orana is a KidsMatter school. KidsMatter is a flexible framework that aims to improve the mental health and wellbeing of primary school children and achieve greater support for children experiencing mental health difficulties, and their families. Each initiative involves the people who have a significant influence on children's lives – parents, carers, families, child care professionals, teachers and community groups - in making a positive difference for children's mental health.

The KidsMatter team at Orana comprises of Lena Hoffman Raap, Kelly Armstrong, Melain Moore, Natalie Matjala, Jacqui Lucas, Justine Oxenham and Jacinta Lai.

KidsMatter has identified four key areas where primary schools can help to strengthen their students' mental health and wellbeing. These make up the core content of KidsMatter Primary and ensures that our school’s initiatives are effectively focused across contexts in children's lives; involving all the significant people impacting on our children's mental health.

1. A Positive School Community
All the children at Orana need to feel that school is a safe place where people will care about them, where their needs for support, respect and friendship will be met, and where they will be able to get help to work out problems. Having these needs met helps children develop a sense of belonging at school and supports mental health.

2. Social and Emotional Learning
Research has shown that social and emotional learning (SEL) is fundamental to children's mental health, academic learning, moral development, and motivation to cooperate and achieve. Students who have social and emotional competencies and skills find it easier to manage themselves, relate to others, resolve conflict, and feel positive about themselves and the world around them.
Orana School is using the Bounce Back teaching and learning resources for students in classes 1-7. This evidenced-based program is designed to address three key aspects of students' school experiences shown to be related to improved social and emotional development: promoting positive peer relationships, promoting positive teacher-child relationships, and explicit teaching related to emotions, social knowledge and social skills.

3. Parenting Support and Education
KidsMatter includes a component on Parenting Support and Education because it recognises the importance of parenting in promoting children's mental health. International research has shown the positive effects of good parenting on children's mental health and on school achievement. Australian research has found that parents more often consult teachers about emotional or behavioural problems their children experience than they do mental health professionals. It makes sense that if we want to support children's mental health and wellbeing, families and schools should work closely together.

4. Early Intervention for Students
Early intervention can make a significant difference to reducing mental health difficulties in children and can result in dramatic, practical benefits that are sustained over time. Effective support during the early stages of a child's difficulty can mean that mental health issues are resolved before they become worse or entrenched, improving the quality of life for children and their families.

If you would like to find out more, or access resources, please follow the link below to the KidsMatter website: http://www.kidsmatter.edu.au/primary