Get the day off to a good start

7th October 2005 at 01:00
The morning routine with my Year 1 class has been made much more positive following an idea given to me by a social worker. At the start of each day, between registration and assembly, we each give ourselves a number relating to how we are feeling. We initiated this during a PSHE lesson by drawing a huge scale on the board with the numbers 1-10, and annotated each number with a picture of a face. The saddest face we could imagine was 1, and 10 was sheer happiness.

The children very quickly got used to the scale and now are comfortable enough with it to choose a number, understanding how important it is to be honest. If a child is feeling low they can tell us why, but the real positive effect is from a solution-focused approach, where we ask what can be done to move them nearer to 10.

This has been a complete revelation, and offers a personal insight into the children's lives that wasn't always possible before. We have had children tell us they had a fight with their brother that morning, so need a bit of space today. A child who was worried that her grandfather was ill wanted someone to sit with her at lunch. It is very valuable to be able to gauge the mood of the children straight away, as you can see who may need to be treated with a little extra care.

It has also made the children much more aware of each other's emotions, and prompted them to support one another. The scale isn't reserved for children either. The class will ask me how I am feeling, and how they can help me to "feel 10", which has had great effects on their classroom behaviour. Any additional adults are included. The numbers that we are "feeling" also crop up during discussions throughout the day, especially when looking at playground issues, and have been a fabulous way to unlock the children's emotions.

Lee McNicoll Year 1 class teacher, Red Hill Primary School, Bromley

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