Laura, shares a story from a speech and language therapy colleague. Her 4 year old daughter was getting upset at the thought of going to nursery; she wanted to see if using a Talking Mat might shed some light on why she was upset as the reasons were unclear.
Top Scale: Like/ Don’t know/ Don’t Like
Options: 14 in total, focusing on different aspects of Nursery involving staff, other children, activities and environment.
The parent reports that her child was very engaged when doing the Mat, and took the photo of her completed mat at the end. Mum took the role of the ‘Listener’ however Dad was also there watching, so the child had the attention of both her parents.
The completed mat indicated that the child liked a number of aspects about nursery, however did not like ‘smell’, ‘sound’ and playing games with other children outside. The parent then fed this information back to nursery staff who are now monitoring these areas in order to gain further information.
This further information from staff will help to provide ideas regarding possible options to sub-mat in the future, using the topics of ‘smell’, ‘sound’ and ‘playing outside’, and therefore enabling this child to communicate her feelings about these areas in more detail.
Those of us who are parents can find ourselves in the position of trying to work out why our child is behaving in a certain way. Sometimes a change in behaviour can be very sudden. Often the underlying reason can be far removed from what we assume it is.
Talking Mats can help in this situation, as it provides a visual, picture-based framework to focus on, supporting discussion between parent and child. Children will often share more information using a Talking Mat as opposed to a purely verbal discussion. Talking Mats is less confrontational and puts the child in control, as the ‘Thinker’.