Research tells us that people who have the tools to support their wellbeing actively are more likely to have greater self-control, be better at self-regulation and coping, have better physical health and stronger immune systems, perform better in school, and have stronger relationships with the people around them.
Here at Toorak College, we aim to develop aspiring young people with confidence and character. To do this, we make sure that our students can make informed choices to strengthen their wellbeing that will, in turn, enable them to live a more fulfilling life.
Seligman's PERMA+H Theory of Wellbeing allows for both a 'taught' and 'caught' curriculum.
'Taught' curriculum is where we use specialist teachers and guest speakers to educate our students of theory, research, and real-life application of these elements.
'Caught' curriculum is where we are able to catch these moments and invite students to reflect on their reaction and their success or failures by working through the obstacle or event. This could happen on the fly in a classroom or in the playground with friends. Experiential opportunities, such as camps, also allow students to step outside their comfort zone so they can find their pinch points in a safe and supportive community.
Every day at Toorak College starts with a 10-minute tutorial dedicated to developing lifelong wellbeing habits. By building a strong foundation and encouraging our students to incorporate small daily habits (like practicing gratitude or mindfulness) into their lives, we are encouraging them to understand themselves and the way they engage with the world around them.
Our senior students also undertake the Flourishing Survey to increase their wellbeing self-awareness, set wellbeing goals and track progress. By tracking 14 areas, students can identify their top wellbeing contributors and areas for development. This not only improves student-teacher pastoral conversations but ensures students are in a better position to be able to take ownership of their own wellbeing.
The PERMA+H Theory of Wellbeing
P - Positive Emotion
Positive emotion is more than just 'happiness.' It also includes emotions such as amusement, hope, joy, compassion, gratitude, and pride. Positive emotions can broaden our thoughts and actions. Taking time to find things you are grateful for in your life, spending time with people you care about, and doing activities that you enjoy can help raise your positive emotions.
E - Engagement
When we are engaged in things that we love doing, we lose track of time, live in the moment and entirely focus on the task at hand. In positive psychology, this is referred to as 'flow,' and we know that people are more likely and able to experience 'flow' when they are aware of and can utilise their character strengths. Practising mindfulness techniques, appreciating being in the 'now', and identifying your character strengths are all ways to build engagement.
R - Relationships
We are inherently social creatures, and positive relationships have a significant impact on our wellbeing. Feeling loved, supported, and valued by others is paramount and making new friends by joining a group, having conversations with people you don't know well, or reconnecting with people you haven't seen for a while are all ways to build relationships.
M - Meaning
To have a sense of meaning, we need to feel that what we do is valuable and worthwhile. Finding your passion or working towards a higher purpose, is different for everybody and may be pursued through your profession, a cause you are passionate about, a creative pursuit, or a spiritual belief. Understanding and embracing your authentic self is key to finding meaning.
A - Accomplishment
Accomplishment contributes to our wellbeing when we look back on our lives with a sense of achievement and say, 'I did it, and I did it well.' Accomplishment does not occur without set back, so having grit, resilience, and perseverance in the face of adversity is critical. Setting SMART goals, celebrating milestones, and not giving up are ways to build accomplishment.
H - Health
There is no question that exercise, sleep, and nutrition contribute to our physical and mental health. Eating well and establishing routines that nourish your mind and your body are important in maintaining wellbeing.
The University of Pennsylvania's faculty of Positive Psychology says it best: "A good life for one person is not necessarily a good life for another. There are many different routes to a flourishing life."
At Toorak, we aim to give our students the skills and education to form habits to allow them to find their unique 'good life.'
Ms Olivia Bugden is the Deputy Head of Senior School - Personal Growth at Toorak College
Discover what makes Toorak College unique by attending our small group tours and prospective parent information evenings. Enrolments now open!