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Schools have great intentions with regard to wellbeing, but how often do they measure their own effectiveness at developing it? How well do schools consistently teach and develop targeted areas of wellbeing with the goal that when a student leaves their care, he or she is more skilled in specific life areas than before?

Two factors critical to schools developing student wellbeing are:

  • On-going monitoring and assessment of students in key wellbeing areas
  • Developing proactive programs with consistent targeted themes over the life-journey of a student through their school, both holistically and with individuals.

For this reason I developed the Six-Star student wellbeing survey. This tool is used to gauge student self-report in mood, resilience, engagement, communication, relaxation and positivity. It is based on the premise that a combination of both positive psychology principles and positive mental health are vital for wellbeing. Schools can monitor students in each of the six areas over time. The survey is a guide and only takes about ten minutes to complete.

The information can be used to assist schools to develop wellbeing in young people by channeling their energy in some specific and critical areas. Considering that developing wellbeing is a life-long process, such endeavors should be integrated into the student’s entire school journey.

By using a tool such as the Six-Star Survey, a school can ask themselves, am I assisting the young person to develop in each of the six-star areas? Are we role-modelling these areas? Are we integrating the six areas across different experiences at school? Has the student population and individuals within it maintained or developed in each of the six areas?

The six areas are briefly described below:

MOOD – being happy and reducing mood fluctuations

RESILIENCE – dealing with challenges and seeing them as a learning experience

ENGAGEMENT – having a passion and identifying engagement with school

COMMUNICATION – having people to talk to, at and away from school and skills to do this well

RELAXATION – being able to stay calm and relaxed

POSITIVITY – looking on the bright side and knowing personal strengths

To maximize the development of student wellbeing, both holistic and specific emphasis is ideal. Both processes complement each other and maximise the likelihood of genuine skill development.

To enable this, the Six-Star Student Wellbeing Survey provides information on individuals, groups and whole school data, which is a key to genuinely building wellbeing programs.

Examples of holistic strategies for schools to develop wellbeing in these areas include:

  • Using the language of the Six-Star categories in various subject areas
  • Specifically coaching students in the Six-Star categories at school
  • Recognising when students are displaying behaviours consistent with the Six-Star categories and specifically acknowledging this
  • Using the language of the Six-Star categories in communication between school and family.

Examples of strategies for schools to develop skills with individuals or groups in each of the six areas:

MOOD – share stories of positive experiences

RESILIENCE – monitor newspaper stories for examples of resilience

ENGAGEMENT – share a positive experience from school

COMMUNICATION – create role-play activities for meeting people

RELAXATION – you can never go past well taught deep breathing as a starting point!

POSITIVITY – develop scripts of positive self-talk and trigger words to be used in various scenarios

While the above are only a small number of examples for teaching wellbeing in the Six-Star areas, they highlight the possibilities for school to be creative in developing wellbeing. What is important is that schools have a measurable goal to monitor the processes that they adopt and that both holistic and individual skill development is incorporated consistently across the school journey of the young people that travel through their doors at a critical stage of emotional development.

– Anthony Klarica

For more information contact ACER on 03 9277 5447 or email [email protected].