Mental health (or the lack of it) is an increasing concern for this generation of children and young people. Our two local academies tell me it’s one of their most pressing problems. The number of children struggling with, for example, anxiety, sadness and loneliness is increasing year on year and the schools lack the resources to support and help them all.
Our project. Ten Must Know Bible Stories, helps teachers teach Bible Stories as part of the RME curriculum. Is this just education or alongside the factual learning can Bible stories help improve our children’s mental well being? I believe they can. Let me explain how.
Talk about the issues:
In our resources we provide links from the Bible stories to a whole range of curricular areas. In most stories there are clear links to the health and well being curriculum and it is these links that teachers are getting excited about and asking us to help them explore further. The stories provide a way in to discussing topics like forgiveness and restoration of relationships (The Prodigal Son), compassion (Feeding of the 5000), trust (The Christmas Story), peer pressure (Daniel and the Lions), our value and significance (Creation), grief (The Good Samaritan – what happens when we die?) and many more. Identifying these issues and emotions in the stories provides a safe starting point for class discussion around the topics. Many teachers comment on the deep thinking they see in the children as we explore the Bible Stories as they explore their own thoughts about faith and belief but are also challenged to think about issues, emotions and values.
We’ve found it so valuable to allow them extra time specifically to reflect on their thinking and how it impacts their lives. Sometimes we’ve done this in class. Several schools are asking us to provide this time by facilitating a prayer space relating to the topics and issues raised.
Take it outdoors:
We encourage teachers and chaplains to teach outdoors. Why? It’s fun! But also it means children are on the move and active. We know this is a great way of improving mental well being. They are learning problem solving and resilience. Many of those who don’t find the classroom an easy place can shine outdoors.
Remind them they matter:
As we engage in discussion about faith and belief with children we are teaching them about respect. They are learning to respect others views and importantly learning that their thoughts and opinions are valid and worthwhile expressing. We’re helping them to have a voice and to know that there are people eager to hear what they have to say.
And of course, through all of our resources the children are learning about Christian belief. They’re getting to hear that Christians believe in a God who loves people, hates the wrong doing and sent a saviour to rescue the world. We pray as they hear, discover and explore Bible stories our God reveals himself to them and they are able to experience his peace, contentment and love.
Project Leader, Ten Must Know Bible Stories
About the Author
Sue Thomson is Project Leader at Ten Must Know Bible Stories, an initiative of St Columba’s Bridge of Don, Aberdeen. The project (pictured above and below) is using a Go For It Main Grant to explore the Bible in primary school classes; providing teacher training and materials to embed the stories in literacy, numeracy, art, health and science lessons.
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