What works well when implementing Talking Mats?
Our last blog highlight how the Wigan Pathfinder Project selected Talking Mats from a range of tools to consult with pupils who have Education, Health and Care plans (EHCP) . They reported that Talking mats provided :
- An objective, neutral space – a thinking tool- ‘Children and young people are able to consider their priorities when setting targets’.
- Opportunities for change – ‘Children and young people are able to make changes to their initial thoughts and have time to decide and reconsider options’.
- A truly person centred approach
- It was fun!
Additional factors they commented on which worked well when consulting with pupils about decision making and goal setting were:
- Good liaison with parents and staff who know the child well before the session
- Adapting the length of the session to the child’s needs
- Ensuring a suitable room without too many distractions
- Using the teaching scale
- Putting the child’s name on the mat
- Placing all topics in one envelope for easy access
- Allowing time to sort symbols and discard irrelevant ones.
- Reducing the number of symbols used depending on the child’s needs
- Changing the top scale symbols to support the child’s understanding where necessary
- Keeping a verbal record where appropriate
- Working in pairs whilst learning the approach
- Using the effectiveness coding framework (all case studies scored above 75%, therefore considered effective using this measure)
The Talking mats training focuses on teaching how to establish a consistent and appropriate top scale, maintaining a clear topic and using the effectiveness framework. It also presents a model for thinking about who can and cannot use the mat and for what types of questions and discussions