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How do you feel about starting school?

Laura’s 4 year old twin boys are just about to start school and she was finding it difficult to have  a proper chat with them about how they are feeling. She wanted to think about how best to help them prepare for the transition from nursery so used Talking Mats.

We have done lots of ‘practice mats’ over the past few months – focusing on topics such as ‘food’, ‘animals, and ‘toys/games’, so I knew that the boys were both familiar with Talking Mats  before I introduced the more emotive topic of ‘School’.
P was first to have a go at being a ‘Thinker’, with me as the ‘Listener’. We used the Top Scale ‘Happy about/ Not Sure/ Not Happy About’. P thought very hard about placing each option. It helped to have the pictures and mat to focus on rather than just me firing questions at him.

Dom TM in Action 14.07.17My use of open questions such as ‘How do you feel about playing at your school?’ meant that he often made additional comments such as going on to talk about the toys he had played with during his settling-in session. Some options did need more explanation, for example with ‘eating’ we talked about eating snack at playtime and having a school dinner at lunchtime. Abstract concepts such as ‘trying new things’ also required further explanation. This included relating the concept to real-life situations such as trying to ride a bike and starting swimming lessons.
P’s finished mat gives us a clear indication of his feelings about school. The ‘check and change’ stage was very useful as P changed his mind about ‘uniform’ which he had originally placed under ‘Not Happy About’ – he said that actually he is happy because he will look smart in his new uniform!

Dom TM 14.07.17

My next step was to ask P what he would like to tell me more about. P shared that he wanted to talk more about going to the toilet. I plan to make up some options symbols/pictures and sub-mat this topic so that we can have a chat about this area in more depth.
Next it was R’s turn to be the ‘Thinker’, with me as the ‘Listener’ once again. This time we also had an ‘Observer’ in the form of P, as you can see from the picture! R also thought very hard about where to place each option and it opened up discussions about areas such as new friends and the new playground.
Daniel TM in Action 14.07.17
R also changed his mind about an option during the ‘Check and Change’ stage – moving ‘playing’ to ‘Happy About’ rather than ‘Not sure’, indicating the value of this stage to help the ‘Thinker’ to consider all the options again.
Daniel TM 14.07.17
R indicated that he would like to talk more about his uniform next time. Think it’s time for me to get organised and actually buy it!

Laura our North West Associate uses Talking Mats within her role as Speech and Language Therapist, to capture the feelings, views and opinions of young people about a variety of topics including Transition. Visit our website to purchase this versatile resource – buy it with training to get the best value.