As part of Mental Health Awareness week, the children and I discussed what makes us unique, different and importantly, special – what makes us, us?

We drew on our experiences of Mindfulness and thought about our recent Literacy text, Varjak Paw.

The text introduces us to our eponymous hero, Varjak, whom we quickly learn is ‘an embarrassment’ to his family. Why? Because he is different. Varjak has the most wonderful amber-coloured eyes, but according to his family, this is not how he ought to be. It is only through the encouragement of his Elder Paw, who believes so strongly in Varjak he sacrifices himself, that Varjak embarks on his own journey of discovery.

Early on, he meets a wall… Literally speaking, it is a garden wall which keeps the noble Mesopotamian Blue cats safe and sound from the monsterous ‘Outside’. Metaphorically speaking, it is Varjak’s first of many barriers and challenges to his own self-belief. What is initially one of his biggest barriers, eventually becomes the key to his realisation of just how far his journey has taken him.

I shan’t give spoilers to the whole text – you might like to share in that with your child – but simply put, from Varjak we learned that it is positively okay to be different. In fact, developing a sense of self-awareness can be incredibly difficult, never mind growing in self-acceptance. Varjak did this with the support of others and with his own sense of determination and ability to use his Skills of not only ‘Looking Outwards’, but also ‘Looking Inwards’ as well. It is the latter which Varjak discovers is the hardest skill of all.

I think 5JS agree that Varjak taught us a lot; when we came to create our own sense of self-awareness through the medium of building a class wall, it didn’t come easy to all. Some children found it quite difficult to see the wonderfully different qualities they possess…

In 5JS, we have learned that one of the first steps to having a healthy mind is being able to allow ourselves the time to explore it. To accept it and embrace all of our emotions, no matter what. All emotions are healthy; it is how we handle them that is key. Taking time to appreciate ourselves isn’t as straight forward as it should be – even as adults, it’s far too easy to forget those little moments of ‘us’ time.

Allowing ourselves time to just ‘be’ gives us the chance to see ourselves in an entirely new light.

I sincerely hope 5JS now have a growing ability to appreciate just how important they are; how valuable, special and unique they all are. Through creating their individual bricks, they identified what makes them unique – building the wall from those bricks shows just how strong we all are together and what a wonderful array of people we are!

Appreciate yourself for who you are year 5; be proud of you. And remember, when Varjak closed his eyes,  felt the familiar warmth and smelled that sweet cinnamon in the air, he knew he was in his safe place, the place he learned most about himself…

Be Mindful. Play some music, close your eyes and find your Mesopotamia.

Miss Sanderson 🙂