Observing schematic behaviour in young children can aid their learning

schematic behaviour

Tamsin Grimmer, author of Observing and Developing Schematic Behaviour in Young Children, describes the 12 common types of schematic behaviour in young children, and how recognising and adapting these schemas can aid their learning, development and play.

Have your ever noticed a child lining up their toys or spinning around in circles?  Or that a child is often more interested in a cardboard box, rather than the gift that was in it?  Perhaps you are perplexed by the toddler who repeatedly throws their cup from their high chair?

Children do many puzzling things and will often repeat these behaviours.  It is highly likely that these behaviours are schematic.  In my new book, Observing and Developing Schematic Behaviour in Young Children, I unpick the most common schemas and provide ideas of how to extend children’s learning based on their schematic interests.  I also consider children whose behaviour may be misinterpreted as challenging when it could simply be schematic. Continue reading

What can teachers and parents do to help children experiencing loneliness?

child lonelinessChild loneliness and its effect upon emotional wellbeing is becoming an increasingly explored topic, as shown by recent NSPCC and Child Line campaigns. But what can teachers and parents do to support children who are feeling lonely? And how can we help children to understand the difference between healthy solitude and loneliness?

In this extract from Julian Stern’s Can I tell you about Loneliness?, we met Jan, aged 11. Jan tells us about some of the things that can cause him to feel lonely. He explains what it means to feel lonely, and discusses therapeutic ways of alleviating this difficult emotion.

Read the extract

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Helping children to have a more positive body image

Body ImageChris Calland and Nicky Hutchinson, authors of Minnie and Max are OK!, talk about body confidence, how it can influence children’s self-esteem and what adults can do to help children have a more positive body image.

What does a positive body image mean to you?

If a person has a positive body image they are happy with the way they look and they accept and feel good about their body. Helping children to be positive about their bodies encourages them to be happy, healthy and confident. Having a positive body image makes children less likely to experience symptoms of depression and anxiety. It is a crucial part of mental health.

Do you feel that the number of children with body image issues has risen of late? What reasons do you feel are behind this?

Yes, unfortunately the number of children experiencing body image anxieties is growing rapidly and body dissatisfaction is being seen more in many really young children, even at pre-school stage. It is an issue which affects both boys and girls. Continue reading

Tips to help children with ADHD develop self-control, concentration and problem-solving skills

ADHD supportSusan Young, author of The STAR Program, talks about the innovative methods she has developed to help children with ADHD  develop their self-control, concentration and problem-solving skills.

I started working with young people with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) over 20 years ago. The clinical picture has changed over these years due to research, which has considerably advanced our scientific knowledge and understanding about the aetiology, presentation, treatment and prognosis of ADHD. ADHD is now recognised to be a lifespan condition yet, despite international guidelines on the assessment, treatment and management of ADHD, too many young people reach adulthood with undiagnosed ADHD. As a psychologist, I am less concerned with a “clinical” diagnosis than the functional problems associated with inattention and the immediate or longer-term effects on a child’s development and life satisfaction. As a mother I know how worrying this can be and, as a clinician, I know that steps can be taken to help and support a child in overcoming these difficulties. I know how important it is for everyone to work together to help children effect change in their lives, so I wanted to develop an intervention that may involve teachers, parents/carers and the children themselves. We do not often intervene directly with children and treatments: we usually aim to make change by teaching those who interact with them to change the environment around them in some way. I think this underestimates our children’s abilities and misses an important opportunity. Why can we teach children academic skills but not life skills? I wrote the STAR Intervention to provide these life skills to children, their parents/carers and, hopefully, others involved in their care. Continue reading

Take a look at our new Pastoral Care and Special Educational Needs catalogue

Our education resources offer valuable guidance on important school issues such as mental health, special educational needs, autism, bullying and peer pressure, safeguarding, restorative justice, sex education, trauma and attachment, gender diversity and more.

If you would like to request a free print copy of the catalogue, please email hello@JKP.com.

If you would like to find out more about our Education books and receive the latest news and offers on them, why not join our mailing list? We can send information by email or post as you prefer. You can unsubscribe at any time. You may also be interested in liking our Special Educational, PSHE and Early Years Resources Facebook page.

Take a look at our new Early Years catalogue

Our Early Years books offer valuable, jargon-free advice on a range of important issues in the field for any setting. From practical guides on positive learning environments to information on running your own successful Early Years business, each publication provides essential support and easy-to-follow activities to help you deliver the EYFS and enhance your practice.

If you would like to request a free print copy of the catalogue, please email hello@JKP.com.

If you would like to read more articles like this and get the latest news and offers on our Early Years books, why not join our mailing list? We can send information by email or post as you prefer. You may also be interested in liking our Special Education, PSHE and Early Years Resources Facebook page.

Help children to understand adoption and the diversity of different families

diversityHelp children to understand adoption and the diversity of different families with this illustrated rhyming story by Shanni Collins.  The rhyme is taken from her new book, All You Need is Love, which celebrates families of all shapes and sizes and encourages inclusion and acceptance in a child’s relationships. Each page is dedicated to a different family, with stories exploring sexuality, adoption, fostering, disability, race, gender diversity and illness.

Download the rhyme

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How to give an awesome assembly for autism awareness: a teaching resource

autism awarenessClick here for an exclusive extract from Creating Autism Champions

Follow Joy’s easy to follow guide which shows you how to run your own assembly, or lesson plan, to raise autism awareness for the whole school or a class. Complete with a complementary download of the slides, this extract from Joy Beaney’s new book Creating Autism Champions is just one of many resources that can be found in the book. Creating Autism Champions is easily adaptable and includes staff training, lesson plans, photocopiable worksheets and online presentations, this ready-to-use programme is perfect to help schools promote autism awareness and inclusion.

If you would like to read more articles like this and hear the latest news and offers on our autism books for schools, why not join our mailing list? We can send information by email or post as you prefer. You may also be interested in liking our Autism, Asperger’s and Related Conditions Facebook page.

Strategies in Supporting Children with Special Needs around Death and Dying

“My grandma isn’t a dinosaur. Why are the dinosaurs in this book teaching about death?”

“My dad’s not a leaf. I don’t understand what falling leaves have to do with him dying.”

“My aunt died. Why is everyone saying she’s in a better place?”

Metaphors, symbolic language, euphemisms. These all present challenges for many children with special needs who process information in a concrete manner. The quotes above encapsulate some of the feedback we have heard during our work in hospice care and in special education, as parents describe their struggle with explaining death and dying to their children. We wrote I Have a Question about Death: A Book for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder or Other Special Needs to address these challenges, and to create a book that parents and caregivers can read with all children.

Complicated subjects like death and dying can be particularly daunting to discuss with children, and even more so when those children have special learning needs; there is often no easy answer to difficult questions. The following strategies provide guidance on supporting a child with special needs around death and dying. Remember, every child processes information in a unique manner; consider which approach will work best for the children in your life based on strategies that have been successful in other scenarios. For instance, consider if the child learns best through visual cues, or through repetition. Do he/she process information best in short spurts? Does he/she have auditory processing or sensory-based challenges? Most of all, remember that special education is just good education! These strategies can work for all children.

  1. Straight Talk:

Though one might be tempted to “soften” the topic with “gentle” language, it can be more helpful to use the actual words, like “death” or “died” when talking with a child. Use concrete language and avoid euphemisms. Phrases like, “they are in a better place” or “they have passed” can lead to more confusion and anxiety.

  1. Preparation:

Consider using a short picture story, or checklist, to help provide a framework for next steps, especially if preparing them to attend a funeral or memorial service. Pictures, repetition, and perhaps even doing a “practice drive” to the funeral home, church or synagogue can help the child understand what to expect. Have a trusted adult on hand to be with the child if they need a break during the service.

  1. Emotions:

Many children with special needs have difficulty reading the emotional cues of other people. Preparing them for emotions they and others might experience can be helpful. Let them know some people may be sad and crying, and it’s ok if they feel the same way. Preparing for the emotional aspects of the experience with pictures or images, such as those provided by Symbol Stix (www.n2y.com), can be particularly useful.

  1. Sensory Processing:

After someone dies, disruptions in routines are common. Many more people may be in the child’s home, and there are likely new sounds, more hugs, and other changes that can challenge a child’s sense of order. Consider what sensory-based strategies have been helpful for the child in the past, and utilize those during this experience. Perhaps the child might need to take a break in a quiet room, hold a comforting toy, crash into a pile of pillows, or swing outside.

  1. Remembrance:

Support the child in remembering the person who died in meaningful and accessible ways. Ideas include creating a memory box filled with pictures or other mementos; helping to make connections for the child as to the impact of this person on their lives (i.e. if riding a train together, remembering a trip they took in the past with the person who died); or creating a short picture story about the person and their death, and ways they remember him/her.

  1. A New Normal:

When possible, try to maintain routines, as they are likely comforting to the child. However, do expect the possibility of regression, as the child may turn to self-soothing behaviors or show traits of an earlier developmental phase. Lean on your existing team of supporters, including teachers, school counselors, therapists, and friends.

  1. Communication:

If the child can communicate verbally, through assisted communication devices or in other ways, continue to encourage questions, even if the questions have no easy answer. We received much feedback about this issue when researching our book, as parents shared how difficult it had been to support a child around the questions that do not have a clear answer (“Why does someone die?” and “What happens to someone after they die?”). Continue to keep the lines of communication open, and acknowledge the frustration around not having a concrete answer to difficult questions.

Death and dying brings up myriad emotions for each of us, which certainly affects how we help our children cope. Keep in mind that you are already an expert when it comes to your child.  Relying on previously established strategies and support systems will go a long way in helping your child process this change in a healthy and developmentally appropriate way. This will lay the foundation for coping with other unexpected events and challenges throughout his/her life.

Arlen Grad Gaines, LCSW-C, ACHP-SW is a licensed clinical social worker with an advanced certification in hospice and palliative care based in Bethesda, Maryland. She is co-author of I Have a Question about Death: A Book for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder or Other Special Needs (Jessica Kingsley Publishers).

Meredith Englander Polsky, MSW, MS Special Education, founded Matan (www.matankids.org) in 2000, and has helped improve Jewish education for thousands of children with special needs. She co-authored  I Have a Question about Death: A Book for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder or Other Special Needs (Jessica Kingsley Publishers).

Please visit their website at www.ihaveaquestionbook.com for more information.

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