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Emotional Literacy Support Assistant


Hello and welcome to our school ELSA page!

We are pleased to be able to share information with parents about Emotional Literacy Support on the school website. Parents and carers will be able to find out about recommended books which may be useful and links to other websites for some self-help at home.


What is ELSA?

An Emotional Literacy Support Assistant (ELSA) is a specialist teaching assistant who has been trained by educational psychologists to support children experiencing emotional or social difficulties. The ELSA programme recognises that children learn better and are happier in school if their emotional needs are also addressed. ELSAs can help children learn to understand their emotions better and respect the feelings of those around them. They can provide time and space for children to think about the challenges they face and how they might manage them.

ELSA – Together we can make a difference…

elsa book

We are lucky enough to have two qualified Emotional Literacy Support Assistants at St. Anne’s, who have been trained by Educational Psychologists to plan and deliver programmes of support to pupils who are experiencing temporary or longer term additional emotional needs. Our ELSA Support Assistants are: Mrs. Kruger and Mrs. Burke.

The majority of ELSA work is delivered on an individual basis but sometimes small group work is more appropriate, especially in the areas of social and friendship skills. Sessions are fun, we use a range of activities such as: games, therapeutic stories, various interventions, role-play with puppets or arts and craft depending on the child’s preferences. ELSA sessions take place in a dedicated room, which provides a calm, safe space for the child to feel supported and nurtured.

In ELSA we aim to provide support for a wide range of emotional needs:

  • Recognising emotions
  • Anxiety
  • Self-esteem
  • Social skills
  • Friendship skills
  • Anger management
  • Loss and bereavement

How does ELSA work?

Children are usually referred for ELSA support by their class teacher, Senior Leaders or on occasion the SENCo. The ELSA will meet with the class teacher to assess and target the child’s emotional needs. With the programme aims in mind, we then plan 6 week long support sessions to facilitate the pupil in developing new skills and coping strategies that allow them to manage social and emotional demands more effectively.

When a slot becomes available, children will meet with our ELSA for 30 – 45 minutes each week for a period of 6 weeks.

It is important to note that ELSA is not an ongoing programme of support although there may be occasions when we are able to offer more than one programme to a child.

How does ELSA work?

Any child who may have temporary or longer-term emotional needs. These could be related to:

Anxiety and worries

Self-esteem, confidence, positive thinking

Feelings and emotions

Friendships and relationships

Understanding and regulating emotions

Loss, bereavement and family separation

Support NOT fixing!

Please remember that ELSAs are not there to fix children’s problems. What we can do is provide emotional support and equip them with some skills to manage social and emotional demands more effectively.
We aim to establish a warm, respectful relationship with a pupil and to provide a reflective space where they are able to share their thoughts and feelings honestly.
It is important to understand that change cannot be achieved rapidly and is dependent on the context and complexity of a child’s issues. Some concerns may require more specialist support.

elsa 2

Help from home

Books to support children and families at home...

**** Recommended self-help anxiety book ****

What to Do When You Worry Too Much (A child's guide to overcoming anxiety) by Dawn Huebner is an interactive self-help book designed to guide 6-12-year olds and their parents/carers through the cognitive-behavioral techniques most often used in the treatment of generalised anxiety. Engaging, encouraging, and easy to follow, this book educates, motivates, and empowers children to work towards change. We have used this book at school and have found it a very useful tool.

worry book 2

******* A Recommended book about worries *******

The Huge Bag of Worries written by Virginia Ironside is a brilliant book exploring emotions and wellbeing. Worry follows Jenny in a big blue bag, it's around wherever she goes, even when relaxing and watching TV! Will Jenny get the help she needs to rid of the worry?

worries 2

                 **** Recommended anger management book ****

Angry Octopus....

An anger management story for children written by Lori Lite. Children relate to the angry octopus in this story as the sea child shows him how to take a deep breath, calm down, and manage his anger. Children love to unwind and relax with this fun exercise known as progressive muscular relaxation. This effective stress and anger management technique focuses awareness on various muscle groups and breath to create a complete resting of the mind and body. This is a great little story to help children understand that they are in control of their emotions. It focuses on the ownership of feelings and emotions and taking command of the situation. We use this book in ELSA sessions and is fun and very effective!


**** An anger management book  ****

Rory Red...

 This book uses CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) at its core to help younger children understand their angry feelings and make the necessary changes to regulate their emotions. The book was written by Luke Baker, a former ELSA! The book is about The Red family and their youngest member Rory. Rory Red is very angry all of the time. He wants to change but is told by both parents that ‘It is just who you are.’ Rory wants to change and one day meets a new friend Yasmine Yellow. Yasmine shows him the way and helps him to understand how he can change.
The book leads the child through the different stages of anger such as triggers: ‘someone being mean to him’, ‘when he can’t go out to play because it is raining’, ‘when he isn’t allowed his dessert’. It takes the child through the physical effects of anger such as breathing heavier, his heart beating harder and faster. It also looks at Rory’s thoughts such as: ‘hit them!’ ‘break something!’ ‘say bad words!’. Yasmine helps him by suggesting different calming techniques to help him cope with his anger.
Delightful, simple illustrations that children will love. The language is simple and easy to understand. This book would be perfect for EYFS, KS1 and possibly even Lower KS2.


 Loss and Bereavement

The death of a parent or sibling is a devastating situation for a child, but with the right support at the right time, delivered in the right way, we know these children can go on to lead full and flourishing lives.

A website to support children and families when someone close has died. https://www.winstonswish.org https://www.winstonswish.org/reports/

****** A recommended activity book to help a child with their thoughts and feelings when someone has died *****

Muddles and Puddles....

This book offers a structure and an outlet for the many difficult feelings which inevitably follow when someone dies. It aims to help children make sense of their experience by reflecting on the different aspects of their grief, whilst finding a balance between remembering and having fun. This book is a useful companion in the present, and will become an invaluable keepsake in the years to come.


 **Other ELSA books that children and adults may find useful/helpful to share.....**

Sticky Brains....

Did you know that bad thoughts are stickier than good ones? It's true! Our brains see them more and remember them longer. In Sticky Brains, Aria learns that it's not her fault when she gets stuck on the bad stuff; sometimes her brain shows her only part of the whole picture. She also discovers that she has brain-changing powers! Sticky Brains uses kid-friendly language to teach kids (and the adults who love them) about mindfulness and to change their brains to find more peace and happiness in their lives.



A shelter for sadness...

A small boy creates a shelter for his sadness, a safe space where Sadness is welcome, where it can curl up small, or be as big as it can be, where it can be noisy or quiet, or anything in between. The boy can visit the shelter whenever he needs to, every day, sometimes every hour, and the two of them will cry and talk or just sit, saying nothing.
And the boy knows that one day Sadness may come out of the shelter, and together they will look out at the world, and see how beautiful it is.



We breathe deep and expand like the galaxy,
We breathe out many thousands of stars,
And if ever we start to feel panicky,
This reminds us of just who we are. 

The perfect soothing read for quiet time, Happy gently encourages young readers to explore their emotions and the beautiful world around them. This poetic journey to a place of happiness and calm will inspire and empower your child to enjoy the practice of mindfulness.




What you feel is who you are... Explore a world of emotions with this stunning peep-through picture book. Richard Jones' enchanting illustrations and the lyrical text make each and every feeling come to life to help children understand the emotions they experience


We hope that the resources and advice will provide tools to help you teach your child strategies to manage these challenges.

The rainbow links below can further sign-post you to some of the different websites which offer help and advice to parents and activities you can complete with your children at home.

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