Research has shown that children; like adults, experience challenges in coping with feelings, communication and other social behaviours. The resulting anger and confusion often lead to bullying, loss of self-esteem, jealousy and depression. Teachers may find it difficult to shape and guide these children in responding to constructive values and responsible character formation. It is now recognized that good mental health begins in childhood as such, an emotional investment in early childhood education is vital.
Zippy’s Friends, funded by the Digicel Foundation in November 2013, is an ‘up-river’ project that places emphasis on emotional literacy/mental health for children ages 5-8. The programme consists of six (6) modules that explore feelings, communication, making and breaking relationships, conflict resolution, dealing with change and loss and coping. The weekly 45 minute lesson plans are geared toward empowering participants to select suitable responses to the situations they are faced with on a daily basis. The project runs for 24 weeks in one academic year with students from Infant 1 &2 classes. Two teachers and the principal of each school are trained for effective project implementation.
The programme currently runs successfully in 76 primary schools nationwide and is designed to help children come up with solutions to their problems using Zippy’s golden rule:
It must solve the problem,
It must make you feel better,
It mustn’t hurt anyone else.