The following article has been written by the team at Grow Your Mind.
Oral storytelling is as universal as it is ancient. Most of us grew up listening to the soothing, mesmerising, entertaining words and sounds of the voices closest to us. We know how the voice can bring a more personal, informal, and often engaging touch to what is said and taught. And what if that voice was young, joyful, full of hope, and funny? The voice of say an 11- or 12-year-old who introduces an episode of a podcast like this: “This is a show where kids teach kids how to take care of their mental health and learn ways to be resilient.”
People often believe we made the Grow Your Mind podcast because of the pandemic. We did not. The release date, yes, was rather on point. Global pandemic, online learning was starting, and the world seemed to be collectively expressing their concern about the state of children’s mental health and wellbeing.
We knew that our initial six episodes, recorded the term before the pandemic struck, were full of the goods when it comes to positive mental health education. Out of the mouths of kids were episodes on gratitude, courage, stuff ups, friendships, benefit mindset, and a playful introduction into what it means to be mentally healthy. We were locked and loaded, ready to release the tools kids could start sharpening to prepare for what lay ahead.
So if we didn’t create a children’s mental health podcast due to a global pandemic, why on earth did we? Well, we have outlined here the three main reasons for its creation.
So we kept our grownup voices out of it! Kids bring an inimitable light and joy to episodes that often deal with serious and topical issues (for example climate change, grief, and gender equality). We knew the resources kids were drawn to: they featured other kids. We’ve included over 100 students in our episodes from four different schools. And that’s why the podcast is so playful and engaging.
Episodes are around 15 minutes and come with a matching colouring-in sheet so they’re the perfect breakaway activity in the classroom or at home.
Our podcast has strengthened our community, and its power as a teaching tool continues to amaze us. It has created a feedback loop, with listeners (particularly educators) generating ideas and content. For example, the episode on gender was created because teachers told us they wanted to address stereotypes occurring in schools and how boys and girls sometimes stop socialising with each other based on gendered beliefs as well as fears of not fitting in. This particular episode, Rewrite the Rules aims to challenge the unsaid rules of gender and the notion that your gender shouldn’t and doesn’t define your interests, opinions, and skill set. We’ve received incredible feedback from educators around the world sharing the impact this is having in their learning environments.
And it begins with kids learning what mental wellbeing is:
This is the time for kids to be working out the tools that work for them and ingraining them as habits now. We know that 50% of mental health issues begin before the age of 15. Even for students who will never experience a mental health issue, the benefits of this podcast, in terms of increasing capacity to deal with challenges, changes and stressors, are endless.
We researched, tried, and tested our best lessons from the entire Grow Your Mind program. We could see what was landing for students, regardless of socioeconomic, cultural, or religious backgrounds. We narrowed them down and started writing and recording. The result: people in 75 countries have listened to our podcast! You see, here’s the thing: mental health education involves universal themes that all kids relate to and benefit from learning more about.
We respectfully acknowledge that schools and homes are busy places. And yet this is why podcasts are so popular. Only have 10 minutes to spare? You’ll find one of our episodes to listen to in that time frame. Need a topic that specifically applies or would benefit your children? You’ll find a breadth of topics including anti-racism, respectful relationships, empathy, gratitude, and more. And given the nature of the podcast, you can use it in the kitchen, on a walk, in the car etc.
The Grow Your Mind podcast has been spotlighted on ABC National News, Sunrise Channel 7, and most recently on a Foxtel documentary on resilience with Grace Tame called Walking With Hope.
Are you ready to be filled with joy? When you play an episode to your class or listen with your kids, it always begins with Boggle Your Brain – a factoid usually about animals, the brain, or animals’ brains! This is followed by the Lesson, presented by the kids as an issue-focussed conversation. They then Take It To The Experts and roam around the school, asking peers their opinions on the given issue. Then the episode wraps up with the Story, which illustrates the issue and includes the input of the Grow Your Mind Animals.
There’s also music, sound effects and it’s generally 15 minutes of awesomeness. As the animals would say, over and out!
Grow Your Mind is a certified B Corp. All of the educational content has been written by accredited NSW primary school teachers.