Around 50 unique participants involved (teachers, volunteers, families and children)

The SEAs and MHPSS tools implemented biweekly in Interactive Groups (IGs), Dialogic Literary Gatherings (DLGs), Participation of the Community, TeamUp and games from the playbook ‘Right to play’. The SEAs were primarily implemented during Maths, English and Arabic classes. The volunteers and teachers were also trained in PFA (Psychological First Aid) and teacher wellbeing.

Impact and successes

One impact that we could observe was that families got closer to each other and were provided with a context in which they could raise their concerns regarding their children or where they could exchange experiences about their situation in Sweden with other parents. Even though the idea was that these centers were meeting centers for tutoring sessions for children, they became like community meeting centers in which different questions were raised. Also, it was remarkable that the cooperation between the children increased as a result of the IG classes. Despite the fact that we did not have as much time for implementation of MHPSS, the very few sessions left an impact on the children. When we did TeamUp sessions for instance we realized that some children themselves asked for some of the activities within TeamUp the upcoming weeks. We could see that their bodies remembered some of the moves which was quite fascinating since we did not expect the children to embrace the MHPSS tools so fast. We could also observe that the children went to the tutoring sessions with more energy when we organized MHPSS activities in between the classes.

Lessons, learning and recommendations

As for the Swedish context, unfortunately we could not get into the schools. One clear reason seems to be that even though the Swedish schools liked the idea of implementing SEAs, it was not considered as groundbreaking as it has been in other countries. The Swedish school system already include many of the elements from the SEAs, such as making students work in groups and providing a space where children can discuss questions with each other.

Also, regarding DLGs, we realized that the texts were too advanced for our group of children at SW1. It is important to adapt the practices to the target group and find ways to implement the methods in a tailored way.

Another takeaway from our pilot is that unlike being in a school context in which the students know each other already, in our context the children did not know each other from before. Therefore it is important to do a “soft-start” and let the children feel safe with each other before implementing the methods. A good way of bringing the children closer to each other is through play. Here we used MHPSS tools, such as TeamUp, to break the ice between the kids.