Meeting Calming Cat before lockdown
I first saw Calming Cat at the Education Show in London in January and was really impressed with its versatility and flexibility for use with all ages across all schools. The companion coaching cards appeared to be easy to use and contained numerous, practical strategies that would support a member of staff who was working with a pupil with social and emotional difficulties.
When I received my Calming Cat and the companion coaching cards, we were just going into lockdown so I have not been able to utilise the resource in the way I had envisaged. I had hoped to share this resource with SENCOs and Mental Health Leads during training sessions that I run.
During lockdown, I have had an opportunity to get to know the Calming Cat resource and the opportunities this resource will provide to schools.
Currently, a few schools in England have already returned and many more will be returning in the next two weeks. For some pupils they have not been into school for 24+ weeks (almost 6 months). For many of these pupils the return to “normal” routines, meeting with their friends and teachers and getting back into classroom learning will be a very positive experience BUT for some pupils this return may have a significant impact on their mental health and wellbeing.
Some may have lost a close relative or friend, they may have been self-isolating and had very limited contact with anyone outside their home, they may have enjoyed home learning and have real anxiety about the school and its environment and some may be moving to a new school but have had very limited transitional opportunities to get to know their new teachers, friends and new rules and procedures.
The Government have been very clear that all pupils must return to school in September. Although there are still many issues that are concerning parent carers, pupils and school staff everyone understands the importance of ensuring that our children and young people return to education as quickly as possible.
Many schools are planning to offer a recovery curriculum for the first few weeks of the autumn term to ensure that everyone feels safe and that mental health and wellbeing is at the top of the whole school agenda.
Calming Cat would be a welcome addition to any school’s resources to support social, emotional and mental health difficulties especially as we return to school after lockdown.
How Calming Cat can support children
The engaging, huggable, tactile cat will help facilitate conversations with children about their feelings, thoughts and behaviours that they may have experienced whilst at home or on their return to school.
The excellent coaching cards, give insight, advice and activities to develop knowledge, skills and understanding and have the versatility that they can be used one-to-one, with a small group or with a whole class. The five sets of coloured coded cards covering knowledge, skills, understanding, fun and warnings are easy to use and give instructions for the adult and activities for the pupils.
Calming Cat costs less than half of one pupils COVID-19 catch-up premium which all schools will be receiving in the autumn term. This could be an excellent addition to every classroom to support ALL pupils back to school.
Thank you to Lorraine Petersen, OBE, for sharing her expertise and writing this blog.