At Brooklands, we are dedicated to supporting the emotional well-being and mental health of our students. That is why we are proud to offer the Emotional Literacy Support Assistant (ELSA) program. ELSAs are specially trained and supervised by Educational Psychologists, they aim to remove barriers to learning and support children in finding solutions to the social or emotional challenges they may be facing, either temporarily or in the longer term. Through individual or small group sessions, ELSAs provide a calm and safe space for children to express themselves, develop resilience, and build effective coping strategies. Within the space children feel supported, listened to and nurtured. The ELSA program, tailored to each child’s unique needs, promotes emotional literacy, positive mental health, and enhances overall well-being.
What can an ELSA help with?
How are children referred for ELSA support?
At Brooklands, we have a referral system where the Inclusion team will decide on the level of support for each child, in response to an “identification of concern’ completed by teaching staff. If an ELSA intervention is appropriate, a SMART target will be decided on from discussion with the class teacher. This target is discussed with the child during the initial session, along with relationship building activities. Interventions are usually once a week for 6-8 weeks, but can be longer if necessary.
A typical ELSA session
Sessions begin with a welcome along with an emotional check-in. What zone are they in today? A warm-up or icebreaker game or activity will follow. This part is important because it helps the child to feel relaxed and ready to engage in the main aim of the session.
There is then a recap of the target and a review of any previous learning to see what the child remembers and if they have used a skill taught. This leads to a planned activity that works towards the child achieving their target. These activities are varied and interactive and could be art, games, stories or role-play, or sometimes just time to talk and listen.
Supporting – not fixing
ELSAs are not there to fix children’s problems, the main aim is providing emotional support, to establish a warm, respectful relationship with the children and to provide a reflective space where they can share their thoughts and feelings honestly.
Laughter is the best medicine, so a smiling face and a good listening ear are invaluable for giving our children the confidence to reach for the stars!