Strong Little Minds
Fostering wellbeing and resilience in Early Childhood

STRONG LITTLE MINDS

Strong Little Minds is a Positive Psychology package to enhance wellbeing and resilience for educators, children and their families. Specifically it focuses on developing a strength based approach utilising 24 scientifically validated character strengths. Strong Little Minds supports the Five Learning Outcomes and Principles in Belonging, Being and Becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia and five of the seven National Quality Standard Areas. It is available throughout Australia.

Strong Little Minds includes:

  • Two educators attendance at a one day workshop – Strong Little Minds Ambassador
  • The Ambassador then trains the rest of the team with video resources provided
  • An eight-week character strength wellbeing program for educators is implemented to enhance their wellbeing
  • Centres receive extensive resources to teach the children, including character strength cards, posters, a language guide and one year access to Strong Little Minds members portal
  • The members portal has numerous resources for both educators and families to instil a strength based approach, foster kindness, gratitude and a growth mindset.

Benefits of Strong Little Minds

  • Evidence based – positive psychology, counteracts our Negativity Bias. Focuses on the best in staff and children – their character strengths.
  • Enhances warm, respectful relationships
  • Support a child-centres approach, which builds children’s sense of agency
  • Support for parents to build resilience
  • Creates collaborative partnerships with families – provides a positive shared language
  • One term staff wellbeing plan – enhances staff wellbeing and collegial relationships
  • Enhance the culture in your centre, increases inclusivity
  • Supports The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia
  • Supports  five of the seven National Quality Standard Areas
  • Available throughout Australia (conducted over Zoom)

Why Your Centre Needs Positive Psychology

Now more than ever we need to enhance our wellbeing, but have you received training on the science of wellbeing? Early Childhood Educators are mandated to focus on wellbeing but there are few tools provided to deliver this. So, what is this science? This is the field of positive psychology, the scientific study of how we function at our best. It was founded by Professor Martin Seligman in 1998. Prior to this psychology was primarily based on a deficit model, only treating people once they had become unwell. In the last 20 years or so scientists have also researched how people can function at their optimum potential, which is referred to as flourishing. Topics of scientific enquiry include gratitude, kindness, awe, courage, mindfulness, character strengths and much much more.

So, where to start?

1. The research indicates that our foundation for wellbeing should be

character strengths and mindfulness.

2. Research also stipulates that we must start with staff first. How can we enhance the wellbeing of those around us if we have not looked after ourselves first? Lastly,

3, We need a community focus. To have sustained wellbeing it needs to be embedded within the organisation/centre.

What Are Character Strengths?

Character Strengths are described as the distinctive qualities that are the best in us. They are what is important to us, what we value. They help us to feel good and do good in the community and are considered the pathways to wellbeing.

Now we are not talking about any old set of strengths but a particular set of scientifically validated strengths – the VIA Classification of Character Strengths and Virtues (Peterson & Seligman, 2004). This set of 24 strengths has been extensively researched and found to be valued across culture, religion, gender and race. As such they are applicable to all of us. These strengths include kindness, gratitude, perseverance, bravery, creativity etc.

Benefits of Character Strengths

Spotting strengths in others, for example: ‘That was kind of you to share the pencils” builds relationships – one of the seven key Quality Areas identified in the Australian National Quality Standard. Strength spotting helps us build communities as it teaches us to look for the good, unique qualities in others. This emphasises the importance of diversity and creates a culture of inclusivity.

Adopting a strength-based language will also:

  • promote a positive environment
  • build children’s wellbeing literacy
  • provide a common language to collaborate with families and
  • enhance children’s sense of identity and confidence

In addition to spotting strengths in others we need to identify our own strengths and use them more often, this builds our wellbeing and resilience. Educators can identify their strengths by completing the free VIA Survey. They can then undertake professional development – Strong Little Minds, to learn how to develop these strengths themselves, how to spot and nurture them in others and how to embed a strength-based language.

Belonging Being & Becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia

Strong Little Minds will allow educators to maximise the potential of the children in their care. A strength based approach builds relationships, enhancing children’s sense of belonging. Spotting strengths in oneself and each other encourages children to know themselves and be in the present. Finally, children understanding their unique strengths and learning to develop these as they grow enhances their sense of becoming.

Strong Little Minds support the five learning outcomes:

  • Children have a strong sense of identity – they learn to identify their own unique strengths
  • Children are connected with and contribute to their world – they learn that using their strengths benefits others, helping them to ‘do good’ in the community
  • Children have a strong sense of wellbeing – using your strengths increases wellbeing
  • Children are confident and involved learners – strengths enhance our confidence
  • Children are effective communicators – strengths provide students with a common language

Background

Overview

Strong Little Minds utilises empirically supported Positive Psychology strategies that enhance wellbeing and learning. The primary focus of this is on Peterson and Seligman’s (2004) 24 character strengths. These are categorised under six virtues: Wisdom, Courage, Kindness, Community, Self-Control and Meaning.

This approach targets whole centre communities to foster a culture of resilience.

Aims

The package specifically aims to assist children, educators and parents to identify and grow their own strengths, in addition to recognising and appreciating strengths in others. This builds relationships, self-esteem, and a positive environment, fostering inclusivity and resilience.

STRONG LITTLE MINDS RESOURCES

  • 4 x 24 character strength instructional poster sets
  • 5 x A2 Character Strength posters
  • A Staff Character Strength Tree
  • 4 x 24 strength cards
  • Access to Strong Little Minds Members Portal

EDUCATOR PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

The package includes:

  • 1 day Strong Little Minds Ambassador training for two educators. In this engaging and interactive workshop staff will learn about:
    • The three primary theories of positive psychology which underpin intrinsic motivation, positive emotions, creativity and goal achievement
    • Seligman’s (2011) PERMA-H theory of wellbeing
    • Strong Minds Character Strength Workshop and resources
    • Implementation of Strong Little Minds, including developing a bespoke staff character strength wellbeing plan
  • 2 hour staff professional development conducted by the Strong Little Minds Ambassador. Staff will learn how to identify, develop and spot character strengths in themselves, colleagues and children.

INFORMATION FOR PARENTS/CARERS

An extensive Members Portal is provided for staff and families. The family section has numerous videos including Strength Based Parenting videos. This teaches parents and carers about a Strength-Based Approach, including how they can utilise the strength language in the home. Research indicates that Strength Based Parenting reduces stress levels in children and increases their ability to cope 11.Specific resources on gratitude, kindness, Growth Mindset and mindfulness are also provided.

RESEARCH

  • When we work with our strengths we:
  • Perform better 1
  • Have greater self-esteem and vitality 2.
  • Increased subjective wellbeing 3. and
  • Are more resilient 4.
  • Those that know and use their strengths effectively are more likely to be successful and have better self-discipline. Self-discipline predicts academic success better than IQ 5.
  • Character education is positively related to academic achievement 6. and learning confidence in primary school students 7
  • Character strengths are linked to wellbeing and flourishing amongst children and youth 8.
  • Character strengths enhance engagement 9. Research found that employees who utilised their strengths at work were six times more likely to be engaged in their work 10.
  • Strength Based Parenting reduces stress levels in children and increases their ability to cope 11.
  • Character strengths enhance flourishing – research found that those who were aware of their strengths were 9 times more likely to be flourishing than those that were not aware 12.

1. Dubreuil, P., Forest, J., & Courcy, F. (2014). From strengths use to work performance: The role of harmonious passion, subjective vitality, and concentration. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 9 (4)

2. Wood, A.M., Linley, P.A., Maltby. J. & Kashdan, T.B. (2010). Using personal and psychological strengths leads to increases in well being over time: A longitudinal study and the development of the Strengths Use Questionnaire. Personality and Individual Differences, 50(1).

3. Govindji, R., & Linley, P. A. (2007). Strengths Use, Self-Concordance and Well- Being Implications for Strengths Coaching and Coaching Psychologists. International Coaching Psychology Review, 2,143-153

4. Martinez-Marti, M.L. & Ruch, W. (2017). Character strengths predict resilience over and above positive affect, self-efficacy, optimism, social support, self-esteem, and life satisfaction. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 12 (2)

5. Duckworth, AL., & Seligman, M.E.P. (2005). Self-discipline outdoes IQ in predicting academic performance of adolescents. American Psychological Society, 16, 939-944

6. Benninga, J.S., Berkowitz, M. W., Kuehn, P., & Smith, K. (2006). Character and academics: What good schools do. Phi Delta Kappan, 87(6), 448-452.

7. Bernard, M., & Walton, K. ( 2011) The effects of you can do it! Education in six schools on student perceptions of wellbeing, teaching, learning and relationships. Journal of Student Wellbeing, 5, 22-37.

8. Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2006). Moral competence and character strengths among adolescents: The development and validation of the Values in Action Inventory of Strengths for Youth. Journal of Adolescence, 29, 891-905. (c)

9. Peterson, C., Ruch, W., Beerman, U., Park, N., & Seligman, M.E.P. (2007). Strengths of character, orientations to happiness, and life satisfaction. Journal of Positive Psychology, 2, 149-156

10. Sorensen, S. (2014). How employees’ strengths make your company stronger. Gallup Business Journal

11. Linley, A., & Harrington, S. (2006). Playing to your strengths. Psychologist, 19, 86-8912. Hone, LC., Jarden, A., Duncan, S., & Schofield, G.M. (2015). Flourishing in New Zealand workers: Associations with lifestyle behaviours, physical health, psychosocial, and work related indicators. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 57(9), 973-983. 


Growing Strong Minds Testimonials

Find out about how participants of the Growing Strong Minds workshop have enjoyed their experience.