In this latest blog, Laura Holmes (Talking Mats Associate based in Stockport) shares a great example of how Talking Mats can be used by education staff to help children to share their thoughts and feelings:
One of Teaching Assistants I work with at Woodley Primary School in Stockport, Lucie Porteus, attended Talking Mats Foundation Training in December 2018. Since then Lucie has been using Talking Mats with many of the children on our Speech and Language Therapy caseload in school.
Lucie’s use of Talking Mats with a group of Year 6 children is a great example of the benefits of using Talking Mats to help children to share their views and opinions. Lucie had carried out initial Talking Mats sessions with four children, on a one-to-one basis. These sessions had focused on getting a general idea of each child’s thoughts and feelings using the Talking Mats ‘Consulting Children and Young People’ resources. A common theme had emerged through use of ‘blanks’ – all four children wanted to talk more about their upcoming school residential trip. Here is a picture of one of the mats (click on the picture for a clearer view):
Lucie then planned and prepared options to ‘sub-mat’ the topic ‘PGL’ – the residential school trip, and chose the topline questions ‘happy about/not sure/ not happy about’. She then met with each child individually to complete the mats. Some of the issues/ questions which emerged from the mats were:
- ‘I don’t know who the people there are’/ meeting new people
- ‘I don’t know what we will be doing’
- ‘Do we have a choice about what activities we can or can’t do?’/ ‘I’d like to have a choice’.
- Privacy – getting dressed
- Will any instructions be written down – do we just listen or will we be shown what to do?
- The instructions might be confusing – what will I do?
- I don’t like heights – I’m worried about climbing up high
- Working in groups – we might all fall out
- Sleeping – it might be hard to get to sleep. Sometimes other children talk and I can’t get to sleep.
- What will the food be like?
- What happens if I don’t feel well?
- The journey – I might feel sick if I’m not at the front of the coach/ Do we get to choose who we sit with?
This information was passed on to each child’s Class Teacher and Teaching Assistant. Further conversations then took place to answer/address the above queries and concerns. Using Talking Mats meant that these conversations were personalised and focused. The children’s queries/concerns were listened and responded to well before the school trip itself.
School staff report that all the children had a fantastic time on their school trip!
Talking Mats enabled these children to have their voices heard about a topic which was really important to them. If you are interested in finding out more about accessing training to enable you to support the children and young people you work with to have their voices heard, take a look at our training options here: https://www.talkingmats.com/training/