08 SES 07, Pupils' Views on School Wellbeing and Teachers' Health Work
Childhood is time of rapid growth and development, where the foundations for healthy lifestyle are created at child’s immediate environments, like home and school. Children experience new tastes, learn concepts and vocabulary related to health, and observe others’ attitudes related to a healthy lifestyle in everyday activities (Fairbrother et al. 2016). At school, they receive health information and participate in related activities through curriculum-based education, school programs, theme days, interventions, morning and after-school activities, and school health services. The teacher is a key person for a child, with and aim to create an environment that promotes learning. The role of schoolteacher extends beyond academic tasks and entails multiple functions related to children’s health, wellbeing, ethical growth, or humanity development, among others (Il’in et al. 2013, Jourdan 2011). Previous research findings from the viewpoint of parents and teachers emphasize the joint responsibility of home and school in guiding and educating the child in health issues (Sormunen et al. 2013). Cultural aspects (Sormunen et al. 2018), teachers’ communication practices (Väyrynen et al. 2016), and the health issue in question (Sormunen et al. 2013), among others, seem to influence on the roles. This study adds to this knowledge base by asking the children how they experience the teachers’ daily practices related to various health aspects.
This study aims to investigate how the 10-11-old schoolchildren in Finland and in Russia view their teachers’ health-related guidance in daily situations at school.
The research questions are:
- How do children aged 10-11 view their teacher’s guidance related to certain health-related actions at schools?
- Are there any gender-specific or culture-specific factors that emerge from the data?
The broader context for this research was a project “Addressing Challenging Health Inequalities of Children and Youth between two Karelias 2013-2014”, which aimed to promote the health and wellbeing of children and adolescents and to influence differences in health in the long-term between North Karelia, Finland, and in the Republic of Karelia, Russia. The project included multiple data collection points from pupils, their parents, teachers and school nurses.
A quantitative survey for Finnish and Russian fifth-grade pupils (age 10-11) was conducted in May 2014 in North Karelia, Finland (two schools) and in the Republic of Karelia, Russia (two schools). The questionnaire used in this study was derived from a school health intervention, which was executed in Eastern Finland from 2008-2010 (Sormunen et al. 2013), and validated for this study. Teachers’ guidance practices with children were assessed through eight variables: 1) supervising to wash hands before lunch, 2) reminding to wear appropriate clothing outdoors, 3) eating school lunch with the children, 4) supervisising to get washed after physical education (PE) lessons, 5) telling about puberty issues, 6) telling about alcohol and tobacco issues, 7) teaching health issues interestingly, and 8) caring for children’s wellbeing. The data were analyzed by descriptive statistics.
Forty-five children in Finland and 61 children in Russia (total 106, of which 54 were girls, 50 were boys, and two did not specify the gender) filled in the questionnaire. Less than one-third (29%) of children agreed that the teacher has guided her/ him to get washed after PE lessons. Moreover, nearly half (47%) of children agreed that their teacher has told them about puberty issues. Teaching about alcohol and tobacco was more common, since 79% of children agreed on that. When asking whether the teacher tells them about health related issues interestingly, 72% agreed, and most of the children (77%) viewed that their teacher cares for her / his wellbeing. Both genders were rather unanimous with their views. When asking about the frequency of teacher’s practices, the similarity between the genders continued: 18% of girls and 28% of boys agreed that their teacher reminds them often if they do not wear enough clothes outdoors. More than two-thirds of children (36% of girls, 35% of boys) replied that their teacher eats school lunch with them often, and one-third of children (14% of girls, 20% of boys) agreed that their teacher supervises them to wash their hands before school lunch often. Several culture-specific differences emerged from the data. Finnish children, compared to their Russian peers, agreed that their teacher has told them about puberty (p<.001), alcohol and tobacco (p<.001). Moreover, Finnish children expressed that the teacher cares about their wellbeing more often than their Russian peers did (p<.019). Teaching / guiding interestingly about health was experienced rather similarly in both countries. Finally, the findings reveal that Finnish teachers seem to supervise children more in hand washing and in outdoor clothing, as well as eat more often school lunch with their pupils than their Russian counterparts (p<.001 in all).
Fairbrother H, Curtis P, & Goyder E. 2016. Where are the schools? Children, families and food practices. Health & Place, 40, 51–57. doi.org/10.1016/j.healthplace.2016.04.013. Il’in VA, Shabunova AA, & Leonidova GV. 2013. The social position of schoolteachers in Russia. Russian Education & Society, 55, 47–67. doi:10.2753/RES1060-9393550903. Jourdan D. 2011. Health education in schools. The challenge of teacher training. Saint-Denis: Inpes. Sormunen M, Goranskaya S, Kirilina V, Tossavainen K. 2018. Roles of home and school in children’s health learning: views of Finnish and Russian parents and teachers. Russian Journal of Communication. Published ahead of print. DOI: 10.1080/19409419.2017.1381570. Sormunen M, Tossavainen K & Turunen H. 2013. Finnish parental involvement ethos, health support, health education knowledge and participation: results from a 2-year school health intervention. Health Education Research 28(2): 179-191. DOI:10.1093/her/cyt005. Väyrynen S, Kesälahti E, Pynninen T, Siivola J, Flotskaya N, Bulanova S,…Afonkina Y. 2016. Finnish and Russian teachers supporting the development of social skills. European Journal of Teacher Education, 39, 437–451. doi:10.1080/02619768.2016.1216543.
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