• This Surrey Mummy

A Q & A with Cath Hunter, author of Making A Difference...

Every since I became a parent and even more so given now I work in a pastoral role dealing with the emotional and well being needs of teenagers I'm always on the look out for ways in which I can make a difference to an individuals when growing up. The pressures on our children today are far more than they ever were when I grew up and in an ever changing world where it's not unusual for a child to experience anxiety, stress, depression let alone the pressures from social media anything that we as parents, carers, teachers etc to ease those pressures means more now than ever. I was recently sent a copy of Cath Hunter's book "Making A Difference - A Practical Guide For The Emotionally Focussed School Practitioner". Whilst the book isn't your conventional paper back I see this more as a book / work book which will guide you through a period of weeks. I caught up with Cath recently to discuss her book.

Hi Cath, great to meet you, now can you tell me about the book?

The book is called Making a difference – a practical guide for the emotionally focused school practitioner. It is aimed at primary school staff but has also been used in other contexts too. It is a book full of practical ideas and insights and is designed to empower school staff to make a difference to children’s well-being and behaviour. It introduces simple and effective strategies that can easily be implemented throughout the school day including reflective language, which is an effective and easy to implement tool with proven results in many schools. The book takes you on a journey focussing on different aspects of the school year and issues that might arise such as transition and settling in to a new class. It looks at different children, such as children who may be found challenging and those that may be invisible to us. It helps us understand explore some of the possible reasons for the children’s behaviour and explains why they may be displaying that behaviour. It then provides a selection of strategies to implement and space to review your experience. This enables school staff to build up a toolkit of resources to use with different children at different times in the school year

Who is it for?

It is suitable for anyone who is looking for ways to support children who are unsettled, not fully engaged in learning or whose behaviour is causing concern. It was designed for use in schools by both individual staff (teaching assistants, teachers, SENCOs and senior staff) and also very appropriate for school teams who wish to evidence their work for EHC applications/plans and review meetings, pupil progress and behaviour monitoring meetings with parents/other school staff.

The guide has been piloted for half a term across several schools by staff in a variety of roles and has received excellent feedback.

Why did you write it?

This book is the result of hundreds of conversations over many years with teaching assistants, teachers, SENCOs and senior staff who are looking for ways to support children who are unsettled, not fully engaged in learning or whose behaviour is causing concern. I spend much of my week in one-to-one conversations and group training with staff who are passionate about helping the children who they work with, but are also stretched for time. Many of these conversations involve discussing possible reasons for children’s behaviour and identifying how to support them.Over the years I have developed many strategies that are easy to implement including the concept of reflective language. This involves using simple statements that enable a child to feel seen and heard, therefore having a powerful impact on their behaviour. This book introduces reflective language and many other strategies that have proved to be very effective in schools. I have also encouraged parents to use it with their children with good results.

How does it help?

The book helps by enabling adults to gain an insight into the reasons behind children’s behaviour which enables them to respond to behaviour more effectively. It helps children to recognise and understand their own and other people’s feelings resulting in them being able to manage their feelings and behaviour more easily. The school staff who use these strategies provide me with concrete examples with children who are now able to talk about their feelings and are more self-aware resulting in increased self-regulation. For example, a five year old in a reception class who was previously struggling to share and would often snatch from other children, was able to say “I feel sad and disappointed because I wanted to play with that car”. This change in the child’s behaviour is a direct result of the staff regularly using reflective language with him which provided him with an emotional vocabulary. This enabled him to articulate how he was feeling rather demonstrating it through disruptive behaviour.

Tell me more about you?

I began my career as a nursery nurse and spent many years working as a nanny and in nurseries before gaining a degree and working in as a lecturer and NVQ assessor in childcare and play work. In 2002 I fulfilled a long held ambition and trained to be a play therapist. All my play therapy work has been based in schools and over the years I have worked with school staff and parents to develop a range of effective strategies. I now work as a therapeutic consultant, trainer and a play therapist. I also have three books published by Routledge about understanding and managing children’s behaviour. I wanted to write something more practical and have therefore written and self-published this book.

Thanks Cath, I wish you all the luck with the book!

Cath has given me a discount code for my readers, available until the end of July. Use TFIJULY at the checkout. You can find the book here http://therapeuticfamilyinterventions.co.uk/making-a-difference-guide/ . You can find out more about Cath and her work on her website http://therapeuticfamilyinterventions.co.uk or by following her on Twitter @CathTFI and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/CathTFI/

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