Park Mead Primary

ELSA (Emotional Literacy Support Assistant)


Welcome to our school ELSA page.

We are pleased to be able to share information with parents about Emotional Literacy Support (ELSA) on the school website. The school's approach to emotional literacy support as a fundamental basis for education of the whole child is something we are extremely proud to offer.

On this page we aim to post ideas and helpful advice on how you can help your child; for example in areas such as empathy, self esteem and anxiety management. Parents and carers will be able to find out about recommended books which may be useful and links to other websites for some self-help at home.


Our school ELSA is:

Mrs Howells-Davies

Mrs Howell-Davies works 5 afternoons a week as ELSA, based in 'The Hub'. She can be contacted via the school office. 


What is ELSA?

There will always be children and young people in schools facing life challenges that detract from their ability to engage with learning. Some will require greater support to increase their emotional literacy than others. Some children may have experienced trauma or bereavement that means they are not able to operate effectively at school with their friendships or learning and need additional support with their mental health and well-being. ELSA is an initiative developed and supported by educational psychologists. It recognises that children learn better and are happier in school if their emotional needs are also addressed.

We are lucky enough to have a highly qualified Emotional Literacy Support Assistant at Park Mead Primary, Mrs Howells-Davies, who has undertaken specific training and accreditation to plan and deliver programmes of support to pupils who are experiencing temporary or longer term additional emotional needs. The majority of ELSA work is delivered on an individual basis, but sometimes small group work is more appropriate, especially in the areas of social and friendship skills. Sessions are fun, we use a range of activities such as: games, role-play with creativity and arts and craft.  ELSA sessions take place in 'The Hub' our very own ELSA room which provides a calm, safe space for children to feel supported and nurtured.


In ELSA we aim to provide support for a wide range of emotional needs: Recognising emotions, self-esteem, anxiety management, social skills, friendship skills, anger management, loss and bereavement.


How does ELSA work?

Children are usually referred for ELSA support by their class teacher, senior leaders or, on occasion, the SENDCO but parents may request ELSA support for your child via class teachers. Children are seen according to their level of need. Most pupils referred for ELSA will have sessions every other week 1:1 or in a small group. For pupils with more severe social, emotional or mental health difficulties, more regular attention or 'nurture' approaches may be required. 


What is the 'Nurture' approach?

Nurture groups are founded on evidence-based practices and offer a short-term, inclusive, focused intervention that works in the long term. Nurture groups are small classes of up to 6 children in early years or primary settings supported by the whole staff group and parents. Each group is run by two members of staff. Nurture groups assess learning and social and emotional needs and give whatever help is needed to remove the barriers to learning. There is great emphasis on language development and communication. Nothing is taken for granted and everything is explained, supported by role modelling, demonstration and the use of gesture as appropriate. The relationship between the two staff, always nurturing and supportive, provides a role model that children observe and begin to copy. Food is shared at ‘snack time’ with much opportunity for social learning, helping children to attend to the needs of others, with time to listen and be listened to.


Supporting - not fixing

ELSAs are not there to fix children's problems. What we can do is provide emotional support. 

We aim to establish a warm, respectful relationship with a pupil and to provide a reflective space where they are able to share honestly their thoughts and feelings, learn strategies to manage their needs and feel safe and secure within the school environment. 


Young Carers

Young carers look after family members or friends, living in the same house or elsewhere. They may be providing a variety of help, ranging from practical assistance with cooking or cleaning to personal care such as helping with washing, dressing and lifting, and emotional and supervisory support - amongst other things.

One in twelve children and teenagers are looking after someone - but many are too embarrassed or afraid to come forward to ask for help, or, having been a carer for so long, they haven't recognised what they do.

Half of all young carers provide up to 10 hours of care a week, while many others are caring for more than 50 hours a week. It’s not surprising that young carers often struggle to fit in other activities like school work, playing sport or meeting up with friends.

Mrs Howells-Davies works with the Young Carers group once a term, and through ongoing 1:1 sessions. As a school we annually recognise 'Young Carers Awareness Day' to raise awareness of these children in our community and their responsibilities, and to normalise their differences. 


If you think your child, or a child you know, may be a young carer, please speak to Mrs Howells-Davies, Mr Elston or Mr Driscoll and we would be happy to refer them to the Surrey Young Carer Service. 

For more information please follow the link below to the Surrey Action for Carers website. 


Supporting your child at home 

Here we can sign-post you to some of the different websites online which offer help and advice to parents.


Do you have an anxious child?

Follow the links below for some useful guidance on helping your child overcome anxieties:

Recommended self-help anxiety books: Click the pictures to purchase the text on Amazon.



What to Do When You Worry Too Much ( A kids guide to overcoming anxiety) by Dawn Huebner is an interactive self-help book designed to guide 6-12 year olds and their parents through the cognitive-behavioral techniques most often used in the treatment of generalised anxiety. Engaging, encouraging, and easy to follow, this book educates, motivates, and empowers children to work towards change. We have used this book at school and have found it a very useful tool.


Separation Anxiety

Is your child having issues with separating from you at drop-off for school or other activities? 

Park Mead ELSA approach to supporting anxiety management 


Is your child having problems with self esteem? Try following this link which gives some useful advice to parents:


Anger management

Help with those 'hot feelings' - click these links for tips and information for parents/guardians about managing anger in children:


Recommended books for anger management: Click the pictures to purchase the text on Amazon.

An anger management story for children written by Lori Lite. Children relate to the angry octopus in this story as the sea child shows him how to take a deep breath, calm down, and manage his anger. Children love to unwind and relax with this fun exercise known as progressive muscular relaxation. This effective stress and anger management technique focuses awareness on various muscle groups and breath to create a complete resting of the mind and body. This is a great little story to help children understand that they are in control of their emotions. It focuses on the ownership of feelings and emotions and taking command of the situation. We use this book in ELSA sessions and is fun and very effective!

This book uses CBT at its core to help younger children understand their angry feelings and make the necessary changes to regulate their emotions. The book was written by Luke Baker, a former ELSA. The book is about The Red family and their youngest member Rory. Rory Red is very angry all of the time. He wants to change but is told by both parents that ‘It is just who you are.’ Rory wants to change and one day meets a new friend Yasmine Yellow. Yasmine shows him the way and helps him to understand how he can change.

The book leads the child through the different stages of anger such as triggers: ‘someone being mean to him’, ‘when he can’t go out to play because it is raining’, ‘when he isn’t allowed his dessert’. It takes the child through the physical effects of anger such as breathing heavier, his heart beating harder and faster. It also looks at Rory’s thoughts such as: ‘hit them!’ ‘break something!’ ‘say bad words!’. Yasmine helps him by suggesting different calming techniques to help him cope with his anger.

Delightful, simple illustrations that children will love. The language is simple and easy to understand. This book would be perfect for EYFS and KS1, (possibly even Lower KS2).

*Note: It must be appreciated that change cannot necessarily be achieved rapidly and is dependent upon the context and complexity of the presenting issues. For children with complex or long-term needs it is unrealistic to expect ELSA intervention to resolve all their difficulties, however support will be designed to target specific aspects of a child's need. Training and development of the school ELSA is an ongoing process and wisdom is required to recognise when issues are beyond the level of expertise that could reasonably be expected of an ELSA. We work closely with other agencies including CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service), TAMHS (Targeted Mental Health Service) and Surrey Young Carers when we require additional advice or guidance on how best to support pupils in school. 



Home Learning during school closures: Signposting

Please see below links to a variety of social stories and activities that may be useful in supporting the mental health and well being of your child during the period of school closures.

If you have any questions, or need any further support on how to use these resources, please contact the school SENDCO, Mr Elston or ELSA, Mrs Howells-Davies via the school office. 


Social Stories

Dave the Dog is worried about Coronavirus: A further social story for younger children explaining the current situation and supporting children with worries. 

Back to School: A social story explaining the current situation with the pandemic for children. This includes information about the vaccines and returning to school on the 8th March. This may be useful for children who are feeling anxious about returning to school. 

Hygiene: A short social story for children about germs and hygiene practices. 

What's Going on? A lovely picture E-book, written as poem to explain to children what is going on right now and to focus on positive affirmation.  

Social Contact: A short social story to explain what 'social contact' is and to introduce words like 'self-isolation' and why this is important at this time. 

My Home and My School: A set of questions and activities to help children understand why they need to be either at home or at school during this time. 

We are at home right now: A short social story to help children understand why home learning is important right now and suggestions for what to do. 

Home is not the same as school: A short social story to help children to understand how learning is 'different' at home, but that is OK.


Emotional Literacy Activities 

Express Yourself Calendar / Express Yourself Charades / Express Yourself Challenge: A series of activities to help children demonstrate emotions in different contexts through body language, facial expression and actions. These activities link closely with the Place2Be mental health awareness theme for 2021. 

14 day challenge: 14 emotional literacy based challenges that will help to support children with their self-esteem and as part of home-learning activities. 

Super Hero Poster / Certificate: A poster to help children feel better about what they are doing as part of home-learning. These posters might look nice printed and put in windows for others to see from outside and help to build a sense of responsibility in your child and others. 

Calm Down Dice: A printable template of dice that provide strategies to children when they are feeling angry or anxious. these could be personalised with the child's personal calm down strategies or activities. 

Feelings Diary: An emotions diary for children to use through a single week - charting their emotions and how they have managed them. Good for self-regulation and reducing anxiety.

Health and Well-Being checklist: A simple checklist to help children focus on positives.

Negative to Positive Thoughts: An emotions diary that provides strategies to help children avoid automatic negative thoughts.  This is particularly useful for some children with Autistic Spectrum Condition. 

Positive Paper Chains: A simple printable resource that combines mindfulness coloring with positive emotional vocabulary - making paper chains. 

Sunshine Art: A simple printable resource that combines mindfulness coloring with positive emotional vocabulary - making hanging sun decorations. 

Design a Worry Monster: Template printable resource for creating a worry monster. Children can 'feed' their worries to their worry monster and let go. 

'The Starfish' Social Story and activity: A social story about making a positive difference to others. An activity follows where children can storyboard their own examples of when they have made a difference to someone else. 

14 Day Photo Challenge:  An emotional literacy linked 'photo a day' challenge where children are asked to take photos of meaningful things within their lives (family, favourite book, nature etc). Photos could be uploaded to SeeSaw with the activity PDF, or to the @elsasupport twitter feed. 

14 day challenge 2: 14 new emotional literacy based challenges that will help to support children with their self-esteem and as part of home-learning activities.

Time Capsule: A personal reflection resource to encourage positive thinking and capture information about life right now.


Parental Support

Violent and Challenging Behaviour (VCB) - support for parents. An article by SEND specialist Yvonne Newborn on how to manage emotional meltdowns in your child and identify triggers for negative behaviour. 

CAMHS anxiety webinar resources- a new resource from Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services with Youtube links to webinars published by CAMHS specialists linked to anxiety, what anxiety is and how to support your child if they are anxious particularly in the Covid-19 context. 

Further CAMHS resources - a resource from Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services with lots of links, support and advice for parents in promoting positive mental health  and well-being in children. 



Park Mead Primary School, Park Drive, Cranleigh, Surrey, GU6 7HB

01483 274315