The practices are presented in the six categories of social-emotional learning skills. These are the same categories reflected in Ontario’s curriculum:
- Identification and management of emotions
- Stress management and coping
- Positive motivation and perseverance
- Healthy relationship skills
- Self-awareness and sense of identity
- Critical and creative thinking (executive functioning)
The practices within each category identify the division, the time needed and materials required.
Ideas for getting started
- Scan a few of the practices in several categories to get the idea of what a daily mental health practice looks like and how they may support students in the class. Browse through the categories or use our filter section to look for practices that meet specific needs
- Select one or two practices that seem manageable and potentially helpful.
- Review the instructions.
- Connect with colleagues who are using the resource to share ideas.
- Try the practice before using with students.
- Once you have developed some comfort with the practices and are ready to give it a try, consider setting aside a specific time each day or each week to introduce a practice. This will help to embed these into your teaching routine and enhance students own comfort and use.
Tips for successful implementation
The everyday mental health practices can be used flexibly as part of the school day. Here are some considerations to help you use the resource:
- Think about the students in your class, their strengths and areas for growth. With this information in mind, select skill categories and practices that best support student needs.
- Understand that there are nuances across and within cultural groups; one statement or idea does not apply to everyone. Allow opportunities for cultural self-expression and ways of knowing.
- Make sure your examples are inclusive. For instance, be sensitive about using a heteronormative stance (e.g. referring to families as having a mom and a dad).
- Be sure to provide students with support and tools to challenge oppression and be careful not to blame or place the onus on students to navigate oppressive, racist and discriminatory spaces. For example, research shows using positive thoughts can influence our emotions and behaviours in helpful ways and can support reframing negative events. While it’s helpful to learn about positive thinking and reframing, they are not the solutions to oppressive practices and shouldn’t be presented to students in that way.
- Take a strengths-based, co-learning approach. Social-emotional learning is a co-learning process where student ideas and strengths are honoured, and new ideas are explored together.
- Use your professional expertise to scaffold the learning. Understand students might not respond the way you expect on the first try. Make adjustments as needed and try again.
- Recognize that students benefit from practices in ways that are unique to them personally. Some may require more practise to benefit fully, and others may need a different approach. Active listening is crucial.
- Adapt strategies as needed to meet the needs of individual students and/or the classroom (based on age, grade, stage of development, etc.).
- Connect with colleagues to share experiences and ideas to enhance the practices. Reach out to your board’s mental health leader or other school mental health professionals for coaching support if you have a question or need assistance.
Your knowledge of mental health will help you support your students’ mental health literacy. You can find evidence-informed information on different mental health topics on School Mental Health Ontario’s website. You can also learn more about Ontario’s approach for supporting student mental health.