St Mary's Church of England Academy

'We promise to shine together.'

Let the light of your face shine upon us - Psalm 4:6


The Christmas holiday is probably the most ‘emotional’ one for adults and children.

We bring different emotions to the same experience. For example, opening the presents for children is very exciting but for adults it can be an anxious time.

Children love the magic and expectation of Christmas while adults feel the pressure to meet that.

Adults get tired, stressed and hungry too - not necessarily at the same time as the children!

We also have to manage emotions stirred by memories and loss, as Christmas is a time for missing special people.

This year in particular our resources to provide the expected Christmas are limited due to the cost of living rises.

It’s true that children won’t remember the tree, the presents in time and the delicious dinner you have lovingly prepared.

They will remember the things you do together: snuggles on the sofa, the stories, the walk in the dark, the smells and sounds of the celebrations.

Connection, Love, Empathy and Your Time are the greatest gifts at Christmas

As we approach Christmas there are lots of big feelings to manage from adults and children.

Using PACE helps you to support others but can be helpful for you too.

We use Playfulness to help build the relationship.

Acceptance without judgement helps us to feel better about ourselves and others.

Curiosity helps us to understand why we do what we do (our behaviour)

Empathy helps us to love ourselves and is a foundation for children to learn how to do this.

Acceptance and Empathy are your Emotional A&E.

They are at the heart of the child starting to feel safe which reduces conflict, stress and withdrawal. 

Image or information courtesy of Beacon House Therapeutic Services & Trauma Team | 2022 |

We use the Thrive Approach at St Mary’s to focus upon children's emotional well being. It offers practical strategies and skills that are built around assessments which  identify children’s emotional development. Our qualified and highly experienced Thrive practitioner provides action plans for individual needs. The sessions may take the form of small group and one to one opportunities. 


Children can experience challenging situations during their time at school. These may include:

  • friendship issues
  • family issues
  • finding it hard to settle in the classroom
  • managing and regulating their strong feelings


Thrive sessions may include the following activities:

  • storytelling
  • circle games
  • arts and crafts
  • sand play
  • movement and relaxation
  • role play and puppet work games


With Thrive, our purpose is to support the St Mary’s School vision of encouraging children to shine by:

  •  thinking  for themselves
  •  show initiative
  •  gain confidence
  •  be helpful to others
  •  show tolerance and awareness of others
  •  be reflective
  •  be able to regulate their emotions


For more information about the Thrive approach contact our Thrive practitioner, Catriona Bailey via the school office, or have a look at the Thrive website

A Parents Guide to the Thrive Approach

Books to help children understand their feelings and emotions

My Self Care plan booklet

Here is a lovely activity booklet giving children some strategies and activities to do on those days when they feel sad, worried, anxious or maybe just a bit down.