The KidsMatter Primary framework brings together:
- the beliefs that underpin KidsMatter (the guiding principles)
- the areas in which schools can most effectively concentrate their learning, planning and action (the core components)
- the essential elements for working together as a school community (the whole school approach).
Seven principles underpin the KidsMatter Primary framework. They have been informed by research and the experiences of primary schools that successfully implemented KidsMatter.
The seven guiding principles are:
- The best interests of children are paramount
- Respectful relationships are foundational
- Diversity is respected and valued
- Parents and carers are recognised as the most important people in children’s lives
- Parents and teachers support children best by working together
- Students need to be active participants
- Schools, health and community agencies work together with families.
These principles are intended to support schools (like a navigation aid) along the KidsMatter journey.
Structuring KidsMatter Primary into the four component areas is a way of making the task of working to improve student's mental and health and wellbeing in schools more manageable.
It also ensures that schools focus the initiative to be most effective. Their selection has been guided by evidence and expert opinion about the most significant influences on children’s mental health and wellbeing. We have also focused especially on those factors that schools can influence.
The four components are:
- Positive school community
- Social and emotional learning for students
- Working with parents and carers
- Helping children with mental health difficulties.
Each component is unpacked into more specific target areas and goals to help schools with their planning.
Whole school approach
School leaders know that if they want to implement any major new initiative in their schools in a sustainable way, they need to:
- engage with and involve the whole school community
- ensure that action is taken at an individual as well as organisational level.
KidsMatter is no different from any other major new initiative. We now know that the most effective wellbeing interventions in schools occur when all school community members (teachers and school staff, parents and carers, and health and community agencies) are consulted and collaborative partnerships are developed. This is particularly so in the area of children’s mental health because of the significant influences of the family and community, as well as the school.
There are four main features of a whole school approach:
- Planning for whole school change
- Professional learning, shared understanding and focus for staff
- Partnerships with parents and carers, health and community agencies
- Action within and beyond the classroom.
How it works: The journey
The KidsMatter Primary journey is about school improvement. Just as school communities are continually reinventing and renewing themselves as new staff, students and families move through; KidsMatter is also a cyclical process of improvement and renewal. It will take between 18 months and 3 years to complete the first cycle.
Before the journey begins it is important that schools have a shared vision, and the active support of the principal, staff and parents. The school then works through the core components in a planned, strategic way, with a whole school approach. To make this journey purposeful, KidsMatter identifies a number of target areas from the core components. These are:
- A school community that promotes mental health and wellbeing
- Respectful relationships, belonging and inclusion
- Effective social and emotional learning curriculum for all students
- Opportunities for students to practice and transfer their social and emotional skills
- Collaborative working relationships with parents and carers
- Support for parenting
- Parent and carer support networks
- Understanding mental health difficulties and improving help-seeking
- Responding to students experiencing mental health difficulties.
Professional development events
KidsMatter Primary provides professional learning, development and support though a series of targeted events. You can register for these online.