Mentoring sessions are for children 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. We have 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 indicating topics they are worried about or would like to discuss during the session. This helps 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. Oral feedback is provided at the end of every session and a communication notebook is provided so that parents can communicate how their child has been getting on in between sessions and so that we can note any tasks the child has been asked to try at home.
Incorporating exercise into sessions is a key component of Kickstart Learning. 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 taster session is provided for all potential students so they can visit the Centre with their parents. 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 monitored and reviewed at regular intervals.
Advice and support can also be provided to parents for any issues they are sturggling to manage with their child at home and support can be offered to your child's school in the form of staff training or a class observation with recommendations.
Mentoring sessions can focus on any number of topics. These are some of the most common topics that are usually covered in mentoring sessions:
- finding out about and accepting a diagnosed learning difficulty
- building self-esteem
- improving executive functioning skills
- managing anxiety
- managing anger and frustration
- understanding and managing emotions (in themselves and others)
- how to make (and keep) friends
- conversational skills and communicating effectively
- building independence
- life skills