Mindfulness in school – Part 3

Where can teachers find good resources to use when running mindfulness sessions with pupils?

Image by John Hain

First you may want to set the scene or create an atmosphere by preparing the environment and marking a change to usual lessons. Think in terms of all the senses: something special to look at, something nice to smell, touch or hear.

You may want to start by using some relaxing music or background sounds You tube (please see here for You tube access in schools) has plenty of choice, some of my favourites are:

This song is 6.5 mins long ‘Feel the rhythm of your heartbeat’ with memorable, slow, rhythmic, drum beat, very grounding and calming.

Here are a nice recording of rainfall that is relaxing.

For an object to focus on and to start a session this film of a burning candle is useful:

but obviously not quite as good as the real thing!

In addition the free App ‘Insight Timer’ has useful chimes/singing bowls sounding out in timed intervals that you can use for the beginning and end of a session.

For mindfulness activities there are many different places to go for gathering resources: books, Youtube, Ebay and of course your school’s music cupboard to name but a few. Audio Network from LGfL also has a range of tracks that can be used in schools

Young children can be asked to bring in their favourite soft toy to cuddle while doing slow breathing exercises as it helps them to focus on the physical changes of their tummy or chest going in and out as they breath. This expandable toy helps in a similar way. There are also a series of ideas of using the breathe ball here from The Mindful.org

Finding simple, attractive picture books that incorporate mindfulness practices or messages suitable for reading to primary aged children can be challenging but I have found parts of the following books great:

Sitting still like a frog’ by Eline Snel  Aimed at parents. It comes with a CD with recordings of mindfulness practises in an American, female voice which may suit Key Stage 2 children.

‘A Handful of Quiet’ By Thitch Nhat Hanh. This book certainly has some lovely drawings, useful scripts and a few nice practical ideas e.g how to use objects from nature such as pebbles to initiate discussion and introduce mindfulness concepts. It gave me ideas for props and analogies.

For a free online resource for young children nursery to Year 2 Cosmic Kids Yoga, Peace Out and Zen Den are very popular.

For older children this is a great 12 minute meditation with a female english voice

Making resources for a mindfulness session can give it more importance and links to other planning such as DT, Music or ART. For example you could make home made rain sticks or calming musical compositions with garageband or the like.

Calming a busy mind can be demonstrated and visualised by making a jumbled thoughts jar  (e.g. glitter in a jar of water) and can then later be used as a self-calming resource too.

Children are encouraged to shake it about and look through it and watch how if you stop and wait, your view of the world (or through your jar) becomes clearer. I have found children with complex needs autism, early years and Key Stage one classes love making their own to take home but don’t forget to explain their special purpose to parents otherwise they may get thrown out. There is a simple guide to how to make here.

Another winner to improve focus is using an egg timer to practice concentrating by keeping eyes utterly fixed on the falling sand until it runs out and then increasing the length of time and timer.

I have sometimes given out egg timer certificates for different lengths of time to incentivise those who need something a little more concrete to show how they are learning to pay attention to the present moment on purpose for increasing amounts of time.

Helping children to better know their own minds through these simple activities can have a profound effect on children’s ability to regulate their emotions and behaviour, socialisation, readiness to learn and resilience during exams if carried out with an open mind, sensitivity and regularity.

Many thanks to Marissa for sharing her expertise through these 3 blog posts, Marissa spoke at our Be Well conference this year and you can see her talk below:

Mindfulness in school – Part 2

How do the words we use make a difference in delivering a mindfulness session in class?

Image by Gordon Johnson

The tone of voice used by someone delivering a mindfulness activity can have a significant effect on people. So too can their choice of words. It is helpful to use words that are reassuring and encouraging to participants but they must also be words that you feel entirely comfortable to use. It can be useful to use phrases that are new and particular to just these sessions so that it all feels very different to what we normally do at school and a little bit special. If you are uncomfortable with them so will your pupils be!

Children and young people often fear the unknown and may come to a mindfulness session with preconceptions and expectations. So it is important to create an open, welcoming and relaxed environment that is different from their everyday school lesson experience. Dimming the lights, playing calming music and having a ‘bridging activity’ to enter the room like taking off shoes, can help the participants fully arrive as it were, in a different time and space separating them from some of the previous moments.

Our engagement and participation in an unfamiliar activity can be vastly increased if we don’t feel pressured to join in. So using phrases such as  ‘I invite you to …’ are often used. However, this might seem a step too far for some students or younger children so I tend to say ‘’You may want to try….’ Or ‘See if you can…’ instead. We want children and young people to actively choose to participate rather than feeling that they have to. Allowing them to make choices in how they take part helps enormously. Saying things like ‘some people like keeping their eyes open, some like to close them and that’s ok’ or ‘ some people choose to sit on a chair, some like to sit cross legged on the floor and that is all fine’.

Teaching self-compassion and kindness by saying such phrases as ‘……as best you can’ allows pupils to not feel that they have to be doing this new thing perfectly straight away. ‘I’m learning to …and I can’t yet…’ can be useful phrases. Analogies can work well to e.g. Be patient with yourself like you would to a puppy wandering off the lead or a baby learning to walk and falling many times before managing to walk. ‘Minds wander – that’s OK – that’s just what they do’. This helps people see that learning to be mindful takes time and practise with many hic-ups along the way. Like learning to ride a bike we fall often but keep trying.

Analogies reinforce by creating a picture in the mind.

For example:

  • thoughts are like clouds in the sky,
  • leaves floating down a river,
  • train carriages trundling past that you notice and then see pass.
  • We can name our thoughts ‘that’s worrying, that’s planning, that’s remembering’ and then ‘Let go of ….’ them and judgements.

To help bring attention to something we can use words such as

  • Concentrate on…
  • Pay attention to …
  • Notice without trying to change anything,
  • see what’s there however it is,
  • Focus on,
  • Move your attention to… s
  • See just how it is,
  • here, right now,
  • in the present moment’
  • ‘Bringing our attention to …’

This can be challenging and so participants need reassurance at regular intervals and affirming statements such as

  • ‘That’s right’.
  • That’s good’
  • ‘You might notice a feeling,
  • a thought, or you might not’
  • ‘You might feel…or … or nothing at all’

Careful use of questions is important keeping them as open and non-judgemental as possible to foster a comfortable atmosphere e.g.

  • ‘How was that?’
  • ‘does anyone want to share anything having tried that?’
  • ‘Tell me about that….and anything else?’

Teaching and practicing mindfulness using careful communication we intend not to block out thoughts or feelings but to develop a greater awareness and acceptance of them whether they are positive or negative.  We are all individuals who experience the world differently and ‘THAT’S OK!’.

 

 

 

Mindfulness in school – Part 1

Interested in using mindfulness in your class or school but not sure where to start

Image by John Hain

This is the first in a series of 3 blog posts that we will be publishing over the next three weeks on the topic of Mindfulness in school, huge thanks to Marissa Tighe a Specialist Teacher in Tower Hamlets Support For Learning Service (Language and Communication Team) and independent SEND Consultant offering training, supervision and parent support for her help and advice in putting these posts together

“Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally,”  Kabat-Zinn creator of the research-backed stress-reduction program Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR).

There are three essential aspects to mindfulness practice:

  • Connection – training the mind to settle and focus, using the breath and body as an anchor
  • Curiosity – developing interest in experience and a willingness to investigate experience
  • Care – developing a spirit of non-judgemental ‘friendliness’ towards self and experience

Marissa recommends experiencing some mindfulness activities yourself before trying them in a classroom.

There are many books that guide you through a mindfulness program but I have to say there is nothing better than the first-hand experience and dialogue you get from attending a group mindfulness course over a period of time! But do your research and ask the teacher questions before signing up to a course. I have attended many courses and can assure you that receiving guidance from someone who has fully integrated mindfulness practises into their daily life over time, feels very different than from someone who has taken the short route to teaching mindfulness as a business

 There are many good free apps available and so much to explore on the internet. Many people start with downloading the app ‘Headspace’which often has special offers on subscriptions to the full package and there are many good Headspace you tube clips to watch too – the video below looks at getting started with headspace.

 The video guides have some great cartoons and is a good introduction to stress and anxiety reduction through mindfulness techniques, including one looking at Meditation for children:

You can check out all the videos on the Headspace Youtube channel

  A personal favourite App of mine is called Insight Timer. It has over 15,000 free meditations from 3,000 teachers worldwide to choose from. It also has talks and courses led by the world’s top experts in neuroscience, psychology and universities, featuring both male and female voices.

Choosing a meditation led by someone whose voice you like the sound of is very important as a voice may irritate one person and not another which is one distraction you can do without. The app called CALM has meditations too but is great for those who find sleep challenging and I love the sound of Stephen Fry’s voice on there that guides you through a slow, dreamy, sleep story using visualisation techniques which makes me nod off in minutes.

They have recently launched The Calm Schools Initiative. They are offering every teacher in the world free access to Calm, the mindfulness app that hundreds of thousands of people all over the world use everyday. Their aim is to empower teachers with mindfulness tools and resources they can use to help kids learn this new skill.

Under this initiative, any teacher with a K-12 classroom, anywhere in the world, can get free access to Calm’s paid subscription service (available on AndroidiOS and the web). Teachers will have unlimited access to our growing library of guided meditations and mindfulness exercises, including Calm Kids, their programs tailored for age groups from pre-K through high school. Over the coming year, they will be steadily adding to the Calm Kids library, equipping teachers with an ever-expanding supply of content crafted for the unique needs of their students. Their goal is to onboard 100,000 classrooms this year, improving the lives of over 1 million children.

If you’re a teacher, just take 30 seconds to fill out the simple form, and you’ll be approved for The Calm Schools Initiative within a few days. Once you’re approved, they’ll send you some on-boarding resources to help you get started. They will also  share tips, suggestions, and best practices to introduce mindfulness to your classroom and get your students excited about meditation.

There are a range of books on the topic but two that Marissa recommends are:

It is an easy-to-follow, evidence based 8 week mindfulness program training ourselves to respond differently to depression, stress and anxiety in a more skilful way using mindfulness based cognitive therapy (MBCT) techniques. It includes a CD rom with guided mindfulness practices.

This is an eight week guide to learn and practise on your own with links to online meditation tracks.

There are also a range of fun and light hearted mindfulness activities that you can try with young children to get started.

Cosmic Kids Zen Den is a good place to start. A fun series about mindfulness for kids aged 5+. Jaime makes mindfulness relevant for kids, helping them develop awareness of their emotions and sharing techniques for self-regulation. From the makers of Cosmic Kids Yoga, written and starring Jaime.

For introductory information and to find a local, introductory course (or one online) Marissa recommends either:

The next post will focus on how the words we use can make a difference to delivering a mindfulness session in class. If you have used mindfulness in school and have other resources/videos/books that would be useful in class then please let us know

Learning Through Movement


Would a professional athlete perform without stretching? Would a world-class singer go on the stage without warming up their vocal cords?  If they did, would they perform as well?  The answer to both of these questions is – no. For many learners, handwriting is an extremely strenuous endeavour. Nevertheless, we as teachers often expect our pupils to go from teacher input or a discussion straight into writing with no warm up and certainly no cool down afterwards. It isn’t fair, it isn’t logical and we can do something about it right now.

The LGfL IncludED team were excited to launch our newest resource, Learning Through Movement at the LGfL curriculum conference yesterday.  This resource was the brainchild of the wonderful Jo Dilworth (my predecessor)  who worked with Sheena Rufus (OT) to create a training tool to help practitioners and parents to understand how and why movement is so important for learning for ALL children.

The resource is divided into the following 5 easy to access sections:

·       Understanding

·       Writing

·       Focus

·       Sensory Circuits

·       Interventions

Each section has been created to be as simple and accessible to anyone who wants to ensure they are supporting learners as effectively as possible. There are some great video demonstrations in addition to downloadable resources to help get you started. We’ve also provided links to direct you to a wealth of further recommended resources.

Understanding:

Here we explain why movement is so important to support the development of vital learning skills/abilities and to detail what some of these skills/abilities are; including markers for the age you can typically expect these to develop and how to spot if a learner is having difficulty and needs help.

Writing

Breaks down the highly complex mix of skills which are required to write effectively and goes through each aspect individually, offering simple ideas to support learners who are having difficulty.  It also covers the importance of warming up the muscles and pathways required for writing as well as cooling down afterwards.

Focus

Delves into the vital nature of movement breaks and how to very simply and effectively build these into your classroom practice. In my years of teaching, I have found that a good understanding of learners’ need for movement to help maintain focus has had a huge impact. In my opinion, as a behaviour support specialist/trainer, a lot of challenging behaviour that occurs in classrooms can be traced back to learners being unable to focus for one reason or another. I’d go as far as to say this section really is essential reading for all class based staff in schools.

Sensory Circuits

Provides some good examples of the type of activity practitioners can build into sensory circuits and why these activities are so beneficial to all learners, especially those with additional needs. Have a look at this section; as you might be surprised by how easy it is to run sensory circuits using equipment you already have in your PE cupboard.

The Interventions section gives some practical examples of interventions that can be put in place to help support the development of:

  • Bilateral skills
  • Body awareness
  • Core stability
  • Motor planning
  • Sensory processing

All of which are important skills for learners to master in order to be able to access their learning effectively.

The wealth of advice contained in this resource and the skills and understanding it can provide to staff can make a huge difference to your learners, all learners not just those identified as having SEND.  Feel free to comment on this post. Also, let us know how you get on with the resource, or if there is more you’d like us to produce in this area of education.

The EdTech Strategy – Share Your Thoughts

Earlier this month the DfE published Realising the potential of technology in education: A strategy for education providers and technology industry.

Next month I will be attending an event in Westminster with a focus on how this strategy relates to SEND and Inclusion. I felt that the document echoed what LGfL and many members of our community have been saying and doing for quite some time. It seems our voices are being heard. This being the case, I would like to ask you, our IncludED community:

  • Have you read this yet?
  • If so what are your thoughts?
  • What issues around assistive technology, SEND and Edtech would you like to have raised?

You may be going to this event yourself. You may already have spoken to someone from your school or local authority who is. But if not let me have your thoughts as soon as possible so we can ensure that this momentum is used to make a real difference in your classroom, school, setting or LA.

Please leave your comments here or feel free to use our IncludED social media if you prefer.

Facebook: LGfL Includ-ED

Twitter:  LGfL IncludED

Being a Teenager Dealing With Mental Illness

‘My name is Lily and I am a young person who has been suffering with an anxiety disorder for most of my teenage life. At 12 years old I had my first panic attack. It was during a citizenship lesson and I remember everything down to what my teacher was wearing, the song that was playing and the smell of the classroom as we had just come out of food tech. It wasn’t triggered and I didn’t know what caused this toe-curling fear throughout my body, which made the whole event a lot more terrifying.

I asked my teacher if I could be excused from the class, as I wasn’t feeling well. I paced the humanities corridor with my heart beating at what felt like 1000 beats per minute. Then, my stomach started twisting, my throat became stuck in that stage where you feel as though you are about to cry and my breath became harder to catch. My ears started to strain from the inside of my body (as if my brain was an orchestra and I was the conductor) and my eyes started to fuzz before being rushed to the outside of the school where my teacher calmed me down and made me drink a glass of water.

I thought I had a terrible disease that had gotten so bad my body was dying. Those 10 minutes of panic changed my life and soon it became a pattern for that to happen every time I was in that class. Then a string of these types of events became more common until I was unable to attend school without having to leave lessons every 15 minutes.

It began to affect me outside of school one such episode was when I was out in London one weekend. I had been doing something that I’d enjoyed since I was a little girl, walking around Carnaby Street and getting something to eat with my Dad and brother. I couldn’t understand why I felt as though I was constantly on the edge of a cliff with someone repeatedly shouting at me to jump off (the someone being my anxiety and the cliff being my panic attacks).

I told my mum about this constant worry that I was dying and she spoke to me about my families’ history of mental illness and it was her decision to get me seen by specialists. I was diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder and Panic Disorder with a sign of moderate Depression at 14 years old.

And so began a cycle of seeing Clinical Psychologists, NHS doctors, countless therapists and psychiatrists whom all offered me different advice with an equally disappointing outcome. There was nothing that they could do.

This led me into a deep depression where I started to think that because nobody important seemed to care about my anxiety there was no point in attempting to get better. I started self-harming. Thankfully this didn’t last long (around 5 months or so) until my parents decided to, despite advice from my school and CAMHS, take me straight into Northwick Park Hospital to get some immediate action put in place. I was 15 years old and it was the worst my anxiety and depression had ever been. I left the hospital in the early hours of the morning with my parents determined to get me help.

I am so beyond thankful for my family. Members of my extended family started talking to me about their experiences with mental illness and most of them seemed as though they had overcome the challenges that were thrown in their way.

At this time, family became even more important to me, as I had lost friends who blamed my lack of interest in them on my anxiety and claimed it was something I was doing for attention. If you have a friend suffering from any kind of mental illness DO NOT say it is for attention. We already feel as though the outside world views us as people who indulge in self-pity please do not make us believe this even more.

The things I have missed out on due to my anxiety consist of: holidays, parties, my own birthday, baby showers, my GCSE exams, school trips, family get-togethers, prom and so many more.

All these ended in a similar way, me alone in my bedroom wrapped under the duvet with my mirrors turned back-to-front to face the wall and my curtains drawn. I was taken out of school and took 7 months to try and find something that worked for me. It was hellish and included doing lots of things I didn’t want to do (like travelling on public transport, leaving my house, going to see friends). Not to mention at this point I had been on anti-depressants for over a year and still the dosage was being messed around with.

This time a year ago I was just starting at an online school and I had no idea if my anxiety would ever improve.  I am sat here now as a 17 year old Lily who’s taking her GCSE’s this summer, going to the gym twice a week, doing volunteer work at my old primary school. I’m constantly doing things outside of my comfort zone like going to museums and art galleries. The other week I travelled on the bus for the first time alone and I went to the shops to buy a pot noodle! Now some people hearing this may think, “well, I was doing that when I was 9 years old that kind of stuff is easy!”. To those people, I say good on you. Good on you for not having to suffer to the extent that I, and so many others, have. Truly, be thankful. But to those of you that can relate and understand how difficult it is to start recovering from a mental illness (whether you have experienced it yourself or somebody close to you has) you deserve to be heard.

I really hope to prove to people that things will get better and life can taste sweeter. It’s so easy for someone to say, but coming from someone who used to turn their nose up at that phrase, just try to believe me.  Now things aren’t yet amazing; I’m still struggling every day at dealing with my anxiety and some days I wake up knowing that it’s going to be a tricky day. But just because it’s a bad day, it doesn’t mean that it’s a bad life.

Lily

Spotting The Signs of Eating Disorders

To coincide with Children’s Mental Health Week 2019, Healthy London Partnership are pleased to publish the Healthy London Partnership “Children and young people with eating disorders: Guidelines for primary care professionals”. The guidelines share advice about spotting the signs of eating disorders and when to refer children and young people (CYP) to the community eating disorders service (CEDS) for specialist support.

Eating disorders are complex disorders that can have many underlying causes which tend to manifest during adolescence. There are multiple types of eating disorders and it is crucial to recognise the symptoms early on.

Dr Ann York, Healthy London Partnership Clinical Advisor for Children and Young People’s Mental Health, said:

“We are delighted to publish these guidelines for primary care professionals. They have been created in partnership with GPs, eating disorder specialists and Beat, the UK’s eating disorders charity. GPs told us they wanted clear information on how to manage and support children and young people with a suspected eating disorder, so we are pleased to be able to share these guidelines and ultimately help young people and their families access the treatment they need.

The key message is that if primary care professionals suspect a child or young person has an eating disorder, they should be referred immediately to their local CYP CEDS.”

The guidelines provide an overview of:

·       Red flag symptoms

·       What to look out for and consider

·       When to refer and assessment timescales

·       Information which should be included in the referral

·       Contact information for the seven London CYP CEDS

The guidelines also include the Beat ‘Eating Disorder – Know the first signs’ resource, and information about Beat support services.

The guidelines are also included in the Healthy London Partnership Primary Care Children and Young People’s Toolkit here.

5 Ways to Christmas – SEND and Inclusion Blog

Created by Carol Allen and Jo Dilworth

There are many inclusive and multisensory resources on LGfL which you can use to support your learners’ creativity and communication in the run up to Christmas, and also during other religious festivals and celebrations. Here are some of our top 5 resources to engage all learners, including those with SEND and EAL this Christmas:

  1. 12 Days of Christmas – 12 really inclusive and fun activities created by one of our fantastic SEN advisors, Carol Allen.  Each activity on a different day before the end of term, so why not start within the next week?  View the powerpoint and the teacher notes.

2. There are some excellent symbolised activities, created by Widgit to support Christmas. If you are from an LGfL or TRUSTnet school, click on the links below to view and use a wealth of accessible and engaging materials with your learners with SEND and EAL.

https://www.lgfl.net/widgit/worksheets/seasonal/christmas-pack

https://www.lgfl.net/widgit/worksheets/seasonal/winter-pack

https://www.lgfl.net/widgit/worksheets/seasonal/winter-weather

3. As usual, Busy Things has produced a large range of Christmas resources as well as many others to support many other festivals and celebrations. Click on search when you visit the site to find out more or click on Special Events and Festivals.

4. There are 245 Christmas Tracks at www.audionetwork.lgfl.net . If you’ve had enough of the same old Christmas songs, search and download to listen to more. Why not use these to facilitate some creative writing this Christmas season? There are also a range of tracks which can be used during other festivals and events. Don’t forget The BBC Sound Effects to support too.

 

5. Many accessible and multimedia based resources on 6 World Faiths can be found at www.faiths.lgfl.net which have been created by Espresso. Visit this site to view some short videos and accompanying resources, including videos and activities for Christmas.

  

5 Ways to Support SEND with LGfL at the Beginning of the Academic Year

Written by Jo Dilworth, SEND and Inclusion consultant, LGfL

The beginning of the academic year is an extremely daunting time for many of our young people, and most especially for those with SEND and/or SEMH needs. With new staff, routines, classrooms, subjects, equipment and sometimes new schools to get used to, this time of year often causes a lot of anxiety. Early September is also really busy for staff as they work hard to set up and implement new interventions and to support new students and colleagues.

There are many LGfL resources and strategies that can be used to ease this transition and to support us all find our feet at the beginning of the academic year. You can use them in school (if you have an LGfL or TRUSTnet internet connection) usually without logging in or anywhere else with your LGfL username and password. Here are 5 resources to get you started:

1. Don’t forget that you have access to over 15,000 Widgit symbols and over 1000 accessible symbolised resource sheets via www.widgit.lgfl.net which are really powerful at this time of year. You can create visual timetables to scaffold learners’ days and to remind them of their routines and you can also make the school and classroom equipment accessible. Many of these resources have been pre-made for you. Just click here to download and view these materials and to make more of your own. It’s well worth sharing Widgit symbols to support every day routines, like getting dressed, with home to provide consistency and to support transition at the beginning and end of the school day, too.

2. At this time of year, many inclusion staff will be organising a range of Literacy and Numeracy intervention groups. Many schools have reported on how helpful Grammar Explained and Maths at Home are for these groups as well as the Literacy and Numeracy resources in the ever popular Busy Things (especially the phonics resource maker linked from the front page when in teacher view). These resources are visual, short, multi-sensory and humorous, and have proved a great hit with students and staff alike.

Once you get confident with these, J2E tools, especially J2Blast for spelling, times tables and arithmetic, and Multemaths are other excellent resources which really support Literacy and Numeracy skills.

3. Staff may be arranging Speech, Language and Communication support for learners with needs in these areas. The Widgit symbols may help with this, but don’t forget Look Think Do also includes editable social stories and visual supports to support learners with autism and ADHD.  The Helping to Change section might be particularly useful at this time of year. Thinking Skills for Life may help older students with Language and Communication Needs address topics within Relationships, Money, Citizenship, Leisure and Transport and this resource also includes some excellent Literacy and Numeracy resources for Secondary aged students. On Foot and other parts of the Transport section may be particularly helpful for  those newly independent on their journeys to and from school.

4. If you have students with SEMH issues you may find many of the new mental health resources are extremely supportive. Healthy Minds, for example, includes a range of 20 minute resilience activities as part of an ongoing programme and staff CPD materials are included. The thousands of music tracks at Audio Networks can also be searched to find calm, peaceful tracks to support relaxation time. More materials in this area will follow.

5. Remember that if you have any new staff, we have plenty of SEND and Inclusion online and live CPD available. The EAL materials at www.eal.lgfl.net enhance staff practice, whilst the young interpreter scheme at www.yis.lgfl.net helps you to implement a buddy support programme. EAL, SEND and Inclusion training, free to LGfL schools is also available via www.training.lgfl.net and there are many training courses every term which you can sign up to at no extra cost. Free LGfL training can also be arranged by contacting inclusion@lgfl.net.

Don’t forget you can also view and subscribe to our general LGfL Curriculum Blog and view our General Back to School with LGfL blog here too.

5 Ways to Support Reluctant Writers

Guest blog by SEN advisor, Carol Allen

For so many students, it is the actual initial ‘starting point’ that is the barrier to producing written text.  They need more than a title, or a question, to respond to.  Creativity of thought under pressure, combined with anxiety about their ability to produce an ‘expected’ result, can block progress and lead to displacement activities which frequently lead to behaviour issues. 

Many of the resources offered by LGfL, give opportunities for writing that have a clear starting point and structure, thus offering a secure way forward.  Out of the wealth of choices, here are five to get you thinking!

1.       Cookit! Will take your students into the world of menus and ‘foodie’ reviews.  Watch a video, read the recipe and write a review based on the details you have discovered.

2.      The SEN Assist FairyTales activities can be explored interactively.  These engaging tales offer differentiated multisensory activities to explore and which will help build up a word/idea/structure bank for personal writing.   These ideas can then form the basis of the written task.  

3.      The Widgit symbol selection can be used to create a story sequence of memory prompts to enable a student to recreate a rehearsed story in writing independently.  Once a starting point has been looked at, for example a photograph, video or story, the child can be encouraged to pick symbols that represent key points they wish to make in their writing.  These can be sequenced then used as a prompt for those moments when it is not clear what the next step should be.

4.      Audio Networks can be used to create a mood and set a tone for a writing session.  If you are trying to write in character, for example, as a gladiator in The Romans topic, playing the Gladiator music from Audio Networks will increase the sensory input and perhaps trigger a wider range of responses and ideas.

5.      Play one of the games in Busy Things Golden Time, then write the instructions for a friend to follow and complete the game easily.   This allows an engaging ‘hook’ whilst moving towards instructional writing for a purpose.

 For more info on LGfL’s inclusive resources, go to www.inclusion.lgfl.net