Swing Gate Infant School and Nursery


At Swing Gate Infant and Nursery School, all staff are Mental Health trained to Level 1 by our Mental Health Leads. The Mental Health Lead is Francesca Gallagher and the Deputy Mental Health Lead is Colette Marshall. If you have any concerns, then the Mental Health Leads would be happy to meet with you to discuss your child's needs and the support school can offer. Remember you can talk to any member of staff about your child's mental health. 

Please keep on reading to find out how we support your child's mental health and wellbeing at school and for some ideas of what you can do at home to further support them. 

What we do at Swing Gate

Jigsaw PSHE

At Swing Gate Infant and Nursery one of our key priorities is to teach our children about how to cope with and manage their emotions, keep safe and respect and celebrate differences. PSHE Education is a planned programme of learning through which children develop the qualities and attributes needed to thrive. We incorporate PSHE (personal, social and health education) as well as SMSC (spiritual, moral, social and cultural development) across our curriculum. We use the Jigsaw approach in our school. 

Jigsaw PSHE brings together Personal, Social, Health and Economic education, emotional literacy, social skills, mindfulness and spiritual development in weekly lessons which are taught from Nursery through to Year Two.

All year groups work on the same theme (puzzle) at the same time adapted to the children's appropriate level of understanding. There are six sequential puzzles (half-term units of work).

  1. BM(Being Me in My World)
    'Who am I and how do I fit?'
  2. CD(Celebrating Difference)
    Respect for similarity and difference. Anti-bullying and being unique
  3. DG(Dreams and Goals)
    Aspirations, how to achieve goals and understanding the emotions that go with this
  4. HM(Healthy Me)
    Being and keeping safe and healthy
  5. RL(Relationships)
    Building positive, healthy relationships
  6. CM(Changing Me)
    Coping positively with change

Please read the leaflet for more information about Jigsaw.

Jigsaw leaflet for parents

Calm corners

Every classroom at Swing Gate has a calm corner which is safe space that children can go to when they need to regulate their emotions and find a sense of calm. The areas are different in every classroom, but some examples of resources include: mindful breathing exercises, sensory toys, mindful colouring, books to support emotional regulation and visual timers. There is also a calm space in the playground which children can use when needed. In addition, the children can visit our biodiversity garden to observe nature and calm their mind.

Sensory circuits

Sensory circuits are physical activities that help to alert organise and then relax the senses of children so that they are ready to learn. Participating in a short sensory circuit improves children’s attention span and is a great way to alert, calm or settle them into and throughout the day.

All children engage in regular movement breaks throughout the day in addition to playtimes. Some of the activities used for these breaks include: Danny Go videos, Zumba, adding actions to a song, crawling, jumping and stretching. Movement breaks create a level of alertness which enables children to focus and concentrate better on their learning. We teach the children why movement is important for their emotional wellbeing- it is one of the Five Ways to Wellbeing.

After a movement break, the children will complete a short concentration activity which requires motor sensory processing, balance and timing. They need to organise their body, plan their approach and do more than one thing at a time in a sequential order, for example, log rolling, patting their head and rubbing their tummy at the same time or joining in with a game of Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.

Finally they will complete a calming activity so that they are calm and centred. This is often a mindful breathing exercise, such as, finger or rainbow breathing.

If you would like to learn more about sensory circuits and how they can be incorporated into your daily routine, then please contact our school SENCo, Mrs Ayres.

Worry monsters

Every class has a worry monster. If the children are worried and don’t want to talk about it with an adult, they can draw or write about their concern and place it in the worry monster. Adults regularly check the worry monster and quickly address worries. Younger children may hold the worry monster, which will prompt an adult to check in with them.


ELSA (Emotional Literacy Support Assistant) is an intervention which supports children’s social, emotional and mental health needs. It aims to improve children’s emotional literacy so that they are able to cope with any challenges they may be facing. ELSA sessions help children learn to understand their emotions and respect the feelings of those around them. The sessions provide the time and space for children to think about their personal circumstances and how they manage them. An ELSA intervention is usually 1:1 but sometimes will be conducted with a small group of children. It will last for 6 to 12 weeks.

Zones of Regulation

We use the Zones of Regulation to teach the children how to recognise their emotions and understand how this influences their behaviour. The children learn tools which they can use to manage their feelings. Emotions are categorised in to four coloured zones.

  • Blue Zone: sad, sick, tired or bored (low state of alertness).
  • Green Zone: happy, calm, in control and ready to learn (regulated state of alertness).
  • Yellow Zone: frustrated, silly, excited, scared or overwhelmed (heightened state of alertness but have some control).
  • Red Zone: mad, elated, angry, terrified, out of control. (heightened state of alertness and out of control).

None of the Zones are referred to as ‘bad’. The children learn that it is normal for emotions to change and that they can experience all of the Zones at different times, sometimes being in more than one Zone at once. They are taught to identify emotions and strategies to help them remain or move between Zones in order to help them regulate their feelings.

Supporting your child at home

Good sleep habits

Getting enough sleep helps the brain and body grow and contributes towards healthy mental health and positive emotional wellbeing.

Children 3-5 years needs 10-13 hours of sleep time in a 24 hour period.

Children 6-12 years need 9 to 12 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period.

Please see a list of things which you can do to support good sleep hygiene.


Don’t feed your child a large meal directly before bedtime. However, don’t let your child go to bed feeling hungry as they will find it hard to settle. Be aware of hidden sources of caffeine, for example, chocolate. Don’t give your children any source of caffeine within six hours of bedtime. A drink of warm milk before bed can help promote sleep.

Be active

Activity throughout the day, particularly outdoors, can help children to fall asleep at night. However, be careful not to engage in activity too close to bedtime. In the hours before bed, try to wind down.


Using electronic devices before bed can stop children from falling to sleep. These devices emit a light which suppresses a natural hormone in the brain called melatonin. This hormone induces sleepiness.  Do not let your children use electronic devices to fall asleep and avoid any electronic devices for an hour, ideally two, before bed. If your child struggles to leave their device, then give them a countdown warning in the lead up to turning it off.    

Bedroom environment

Creating a calm, comforting and relaxing bedroom space can promote better sleep in both adults and children. Please see the attached bedroom checklist for things you can do to create the optimum space to support quality sleep. Bedroom Checklist


 A bedtime routine and a set bedtime is extremely important for good sleep hygiene.  A routine can begin 30 minutes to two hours before bedtime and can include activities to help wind down, such as drinking a warm glass of milk, having a warm bath or shower, reading a story together and/or quiet reading time to themselves, going to the toilet, cuddle and finally sleep. Following the same routine each night will give your child time to calm before going to sleep. Consistency is key, even at the weekend. Aim to put your child to bed at the same time every day.


If your child often shares their worries at bedtime, it would be useful to organise a time earlier in the evening to discuss any concerns they may have. Give this time a name, for example, ‘Talking Time’. Ensure that you provide time to talk every day.

Mindful breathing

Teaching your child breathing exercises can be an effective strategy to help them focus and improve their concentration whilst also being a powerful tool to help them regulate their emotions.

Breathing exercises introduce children to mindfulness and self-regulation which boosts overall mental health.

An easy breathing exercise to master involves telling your child to imagine they are smelling a flower ensuring these are breathing in deeply through their nose and out through their mouth.

Belly breathing involves paying attention to what happens to your body as you breathe. Ask your child to place one hand on their belly and the other on their chest. Tell them to take a deep breath in for four counts and exhale slowly through their nose for four counts, encouraging them to focus on the rise and fall of their chest and belly as they breathe in and out.

Please explore and print the breathing exercises below. Ensure they are accessible in the home and use regularly so your child is familiar with them when they are needed. Many are used in school. 

Bee Breathing

Five Finger Breathing

Rainbow Breathing

Triangle Breathing

Calm spaces

We would recommend setting up a calm space at home. One way to help children learn how to self-regulate is by providing them with calm down corners. This is a designated space in your home where your child can learn how to self-regulate. The space should not be used as a punishment, but rather a safe space where they can reflect on and manage their emotions. In this space there should be comforting objects (cushion, blanket, soft toy) and soothing materials (sensory objects e.g fidget poppers, toys that glow and sensory bottles) that can promote mindfulness, breathing and reflection.You could put books which explore emotions, mindful breathing exercises and colouring activities/writing materials. Your corner should ideally be located in a quiet part of the room or house, away from common distractions or disturbances.  Calm corners are really effective in school for helping children to manage their emotions. 

Please click on the following link for a list of calming activities which you can get your child to do when they are struggling with their emotions. Things I Can Do To Calm Down

Animal Calming Cards

Autism and ADHD

Many of the strategies detailed above offer support for children with autism and/or ADHD. Please read the attached leaflets for more information on how your can support your child's mental health or arrange a meeting with our SENDCo Mrs Ayres.

A guide for parents- ASD and Anxiety

A guide for parents- ADHD and mental health

Swing Gate Lane, Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire HP4 2LJ

01442 863913