Everything you do with KidsMatter influences children’s mental health and wellbeing: each component helps you focus on a different part of the picture.
Initially it can be hard to put all the bits of the KidsMatter Frameworktogether. As you work through the Framework, you will notice the components:
- each have a different focus
- encourage you to consider different perspectives
- build on from the each other
- are complementary in many ways.
The ripple effects of actions undertaken for any component can be far reaching and when combined with practices stemming from other components, there can be even greater outcomes for the mental health and wellbeing of all children, families and educators.
Identifying connections between the four components supports your engagement with KidsMatter and promotes a whole-of-service approach. We have highlighted five of our top ways the components connect for you.
Five ways the KidsMatter components connect
1. Relationships are essential
A Guiding Principle of KidsMatter is that children’s mental health develops within sensitive, nurturing and responsive relationships. Relationships between children, educators, families, and the wider community are essential in each component:
- In Component 1, creating a community that supports mental health requires nurturing, positive relationships. Achieving such a community supports children to feel respected and valued and promotes feelings of belonging and connection for everyone.
- Component 2 highlights how educators, through relationships, can provide valuable opportunities to support all aspects of children’s learning and development.
- Partnerships between educators and families, and relationships between families, are the focus of Component 3.
- The emphasis of Component 4 is on supporting children who are experiencing mental health difficulties. Strong relationships enable families and educators to work together and support connections with mental health professionals, when necessary.
2. Embedding a whole-of-service approach
Having a whole-of-service commitment to each component of KidsMatter Early Childhood encourages the sharing of skills, knowledge, resources and a sense of unity through working towards common goals.
Whole-of-service actions that demonstrate children’s mental health is a priority include:
- creating a place where people feel welcome and respected
- strengthening and prioritising relationships with children and families
- supporting children’s social and emotional development
- committing to working in partnership with families
- understanding about mental health and knowing how to respond when difficulties occur.
3. Using a mental health lens to set goals and review progress
‘Plan–Do–Review’, the continual cycle of goal planning, setting, implementing and monitoring, underpins KidsMatter. It might be second nature to you now!
‘Plan–Do–Review’ encourages reflection through a mental health lens to generate ideas, set goals and review current policies and practice. It also highlights how individual and combined actions resulting from implementing KidsMatter to support children’s mental health.
By linking or embedding ‘Plan―Do―Review’ process to Quality Improvement Plans you can demonstrate how goals overlap and change accumulates. The goals your service identifies—such as building relationships or supporting children’s social and emotional skills, all work together to support children’s mental health.
4. Encouraging reflection on policies and practices
Reflecting on learning throughout KidsMatter can lead to the review of policies and practices.
Places to start include your Statement of Philosophy and other existing practices in your service that explicitly support children’s mental health.
Another option is to review those with more subtle connections to mental health and consider the extent they reflect your service’s commitment tomental health and wellbeing.
Such policies or practices could include those that:
- support new families in your service
- enable educators to capitalise on everyday moments they share with children
- determine how information sharing occurs
- relate to marking milestones or times of transition.
Your reflections could also result in the development of additional policies or practices.
5. Supporting Change
Within each component, KidsMatter offers a guided approach for implementing or supporting change.
Intended or unplanned change may occur in many areas, including:
- organisational culture
- relationships across your service
- the physical environment
- systems, processes and practice
- individual and collective attitudes, knowledge and skills
- reflective conversations and professional learning
- curriculum decisions to support children’s social and emotional learning.
Whether big or small, change, and how we support it, can influencemental health and wellbeing.