Emerging evidence points to a key component of education that goes beyond mathematical and literacy skills. Evidence suggests that another component to providing children a meaningful and deeper educational experience is a positive sense of well-being. In a nutshell, well-being is a positive sense of self. The Ministry of Education is focusing on students’ well-being as a facet of long-term success. Students need to feel safe and welcomed at school in order to fully maximize their academic potential. Students that feel welcome and have positive relationships in their lives often have a positive sense of self. This positive sense of self is a contributing factor for students’ reaching their full potential in school.
The Ministry of Education has create a strategy to promote a positive sense of well-being in students. This strategy consist of four key components:
Positive Mental Health: helping school boards to develop and implement training for staff working with children. The training is centered around educating staff on how to support students’ mental health. Additionally, the training is aimed at supporting students who might be experiencing addiction issues.
Safe and Accepting Schools: are expectations that schools need to uphold that create a safe and accepting learning environment for all students. These expectations focus on addressing and preventing bullying and cultivating a positive school climate/atmosphere.
Healthy Schools: consist of good food, quality daily physical activity (QDPA) and a supportive learning environment. Nutrition, physical health and environment are three major aspects of a positive well-being.
Equity and Inclusive Education: requires that educators work to identify and remove discriminatory biases and barriers student might face. Educators can best do this by implicitly and explicitly modelling behaviors that highlight respect for differences.
The Ministry is focusing on the four domains of well-being:
Cognitive: abilities and skills which consist of; critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, flexibility and innovation.
Emotional: learn, understand, experience, regulate and cope with your emotions.
Social: development of self-awareness, sense of belonging, collaboration, forming and holding relationships with others, and communication skills.
Physical: the body’s growth and development. One physical growth and development are effected by physical activity, sleep habits, eating habits, and health life choices.
For educators to cultivate a learning environment that fosters a positive sense of well-being in students, theses four main domains need to echo through their teaching, classroom environment and overall pedagogy. The Ministry intents to work with school boards to identify what well-being looks like, what needs to be done to support well-being and how to measure it.
Promoting well-being is one of the ministry’s four goals outlined in Achieving Excellence, Ontario’s Renewed Vision for Education. Learn more at ontario.ca/eduvision