Mentoring sessions are for children and young people who need specific support with managing their emotions and/or developing social skills. Sessions are highly personalised to the child and involve a combination of talking and practical play-based activities. Many of the activities are based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) techniques and there is a strong emphasis on teaching mindfulness skills that the child can then apply outside of sessions. Kerry has developed some easy to understand and relatable analogies to help explain key concepts relating to learning, emotions and socialising. Sessions are kept as informal as possible and never just involve talking. Most children are a lot more open and comfortable talking about what's on their mind when they have another activity to focus on at the same time. For this reason, activities such as playdough, drawing and Lego and used to help stimulate discussion.
Sessions usually start with the child colouring in shapes on a sheet (shown to the right) to show anything they'd like to talk about during the session. This could be something they are worried about or a problem they'd like advice about or it could be something they are excited about or proud of. This helps Kerry to gauge the mood of the child at the start of the session and helps to identify why a child might be more distracted than usual or more easily frustrated during the session. Parents are sent an email after each session explaining what was covered during the session, anything the child has been asked to work on at home and any interesting observations or concerns.
Incorporating exercise into sessions is a key component of Kickstart Learning with Kerry. Mentoring sessions can be quite intense and often involve strong emotions and so it is useful to have a way to break up the session and provide an appropriate environment for a child to release their frustrations.
A free 30 minute initial taster session is provided allowing both the child and Kerry to get to know each other better and for Kerry to get a better understanding of the child's specific strengths and difficulties. Student and parent questionnaires are also usually distributed to gain further understanding. Following this, session requirements would be discussed in depth and aims and objectives agreed upon. These would be continuously monitored and reviewed when appropriate.
Advice and support can also be provided to parents for any issues they are sturggling to manage with their child at home.
Mentoring sessions can focus on any number of topics. Often mentoring sessions are combined with tutoring and sometimes also with martial arts. These are some of the most common topics that are usually covered in mentoring sessions:
finding out about and accepting a diagnosed learning difficulty
managing anger and frustration
understanding and managing emotions (in themselves and others)
how to make (and keep) friends
conversational skills and communicating effectively