There are myriad ways in which Jigsaw, the mindful approach to PSHE, helps students learn about, improve and sustain good mental health, and these lessons more than cover the requirements set out in the latest government guidance on teaching about mental health.
Jigsaw contains lessons explaining mental illness e.g. eating disorders/self-harm etc but chooses also to emphasise how to gain and maintain positive mental health.
For example, each lesson plan clearly states which of the five emotional literacy domains are contained so the purpose of that lesson is clear, in terms of student development and not just their ‘knowledge learning’. Confidence in oneself, awareness of self-identity and authentic self-esteem – the backbones of good mental health – are sometimes difficult for students to develop. However, a tried-and-tested method is used in Jigsaw and is proving to be invaluable when helping students to become more successful in all aspects of their lives, not just as learners.
Mindfulness philosophy and practice (through which students learn to be aware of their thoughts and feelings in the present moment – without judgement and to direct their minds to focus on whatever they choose to focus on) is included at the start of each Jigsaw lesson and uses visualisation and breathing techniques. This philosophy is woven through many lessons to enhance student’s understanding and how it assists positively in real-life situations.
The Jigsaw Approach is underpinned by mindfulness and this aims to empower students to learn now and improve their life-chances later, and to help them develop personal awareness. Mindfulness practice enables them to observe their own thoughts and feelings, regulate them safely and make conscious decisions about their learning, behaviour and lives. It helps them to remain focused on the present moment and thrive in it, allaying and managing stress and anxiety and helping grow gratitude and appreciation, a positive psychology towards life.
The latest guidance recommends that schools need to teach social and emotional skills. These skills are too important to only be learned by osmosis, which is why Jigsaw 3-16 develops them in a structured and developmental way throughout every age group.
A programme like Jigsaw is so helpful to schools, because it sets out exactly how students learn best and how to teach skills that lead to better social, emotional and mental health, which in turn builds their capacity to learn.
Schools can be confident that a focus on well-being and mental health not only enables them to provide healthy and happy school environments for students and staff, and prepare the citizens of tomorrow with sound character and values, but also directly supports their more immediate mission, which is shared by Jigsaw: the promotion of effective learning.