Friday, 20 August 2021

RainbowSmart: A Free App To Support Childrens Emotional Wellbeing

As a home educating parent, I'm forever on the lookout for apps and services to help me to provide my children with a well-rounded education.

Although the standard curriculum subjects of English, Maths, Science etc are important...I'm just as keen to ensure that we're focusing our attention on practical life skills and improving their emotional intelligence, as these are areas which will benefit them throughout their lives. 

In fact emotional intelligence is something of particular interest to me. Having spent most of my adult life undergoing therapy to help me to resolve the mental health impact of trauma, I'm acutely aware of how important it is to ensure that we teach our children how to recognise and understand their feelings and emotions. How to vocalise them, how to recognise when they're struggling and how to deal with that in a pro-active and healthy way.

So when I heard about the RainbowSmart app, I was very keen to give it a try. 

RainbowSmart was developed by 1decision, a Kitemarked PSHE company based in Stevenage who provide resources to over 600 schools and nurseries across the UK (as well as South Korea, Singapore, Egypt and Spain). 

1 Decision was started by Hayley Sherwood in 2011, and began as a team of just 3 people. However ten years on, the team has now grown into double figures. With the launch of the free RainbowSmart app, 1decision hope to reach parents and carers to break down barriers for young learners, and our ethos is based around prevention rather than a cure when it comes to child development and potential later issues in life. The core of their programme is a series of videos with alternative endings which encourage and empower students to make positive choices and decisions for the characters, whilst teaching vocabulary, skills, and knowledge to support their own decision making now and in the future. 

The aim of the app is to inspire emotional intelligence and positive decision-making in children, using their fun and informative stories, cartoons and guided mindfulness meditations and breathing exercises. 

I've been using the app with my children for a few weeks now, and I've found it really beneficial. We incorporate it into our daily routine by using it after lunch, for a 30 minute calm-down period. 

My children particularly enjoy the mindfulness exercises - the flower breathing in particular is something they seem to get a lot out of, and it seems to help to get them in the right headspace for the rest of the afternoon. They find the guided style of the exercises easy to follow, and the app itself is very easy to use. 

The Rainbow Drop stories are also a great tool for teaching children about various emotions and emotional experiences. They are available in Read-To-Me mode - which is in the style of a story book with illustrated pages and a narrator - or an animated cartoon style, which my children prefer to watch.

The stories cover all sorts of topics in a child-friendly way - from hospital visits and getting a hearing aid, to starting a new class and eating your vegetables.  I particularly enjoyed the story about using your inside voice...something one of my children certainly struggles with!

The app is free to use, and I would say its ideally suited to children in the 3-7 age range - my youngest two are 5 and 6, and both of them really enjoy the cartoons and mindfulness exercises.

You can find out more about 1decision and the RainbowSmart app on their website, and the app is free to download on Google Play and the App Store.

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