At Staniland Academy we believe in educating the whole child: their head, their hands, and their heart. For most of the time our rich and varied curriculum and our personal development opportunities meet our children’s needs. However, on occasion we might identify an aspect of a child’s wellbeing that could be supported by some specific therapeutic learning. This might be a result of an impactful event, grief or loss, a social skill that could be developed further or as a result of their neurodiversity they may require a little more help than everyday school life provides.
Below you will find further details about some of the programmes we can offer:
Friends for Life
Originating in Australia, Friends for Life is a programme based on cognitive behavioural therapy and positive psychology. It is delivered in school by one of our Early Help and Wellbeing Support Workers, who is employed by the Trust. The programme runs for 8 weeks, and each session usually runs for about one hour.
What happens during the intervention?
During each session children are taught skills, aimed at helping them to increase their coping skills, through stories, games and a variety of activities. To help the children remember the FRIENDS concepts, and to bring structure to the sessions we use the FRIENDS acronym:
Feelings (talk about your feelings and care about other people’s feelings)
Relax (do “milkshake” breathing, have some quiet time)
I can try! (We can all try our best)
Encourage (step plans to happy home)
Nurture (quality time together doing fun activities)
Don’t forget – be brave! (Practise skills everyday with friends /family)
How does it work?
· Coping skills increase a child’s resilience and protects children from developing anxiety
· The programme aims to teach coping skills such as understanding and managing emotions to assist children in responding to uncomfortable emotions in appropriate and helpful ways.
· In short term, children have better awareness of their emotions and helpful emotion management techniques that enable them to better cope with stressful or uncomfortable situations.
· In the longer term, children will be less likely to develop anxiety disorders.
To support children’s mental health and wellbeing.
You can find out more here:
LEGO-Based Therapy is a social development program that uses LEGO activities to support the development of a wide range of social skills within a group setting.
LEGO-Based Therapy was developed in the mid-1990s by US paediatric neuropsychologist Daniel LeGoff. He was inspired by watching two of his customers with Autism Spectrum Disorder play with LEGO in his waiting room and displaying previous non-demonstrated positive social interactions.
While initially developed for children with autism, LEGO-Based Therapy has since been found to benefit children with a variety of communication and social developmental difficulties.
Playing with LEGO in a therapy setting promotes social interaction, turn-taking skills, sharing, collaborative problem-solving and the learning of concepts. It can be used to target goals around social skills, language and motor skills. By using a commonly adored tool like LEGO it capitalises on its existing motivation and supports self-esteem by allowing the participants to demonstrate their skills in a social situation. It also sets up a positive opportunity for guided social problem-solving to help develop social skills that can then be used in other situations.
Children with autism sometimes find it challenging to understand what is expected of them in a social situation, particularly within unstructured play activities. LEGO-Based Therapy provides a highly structured environment where everyone plays a specific role within the group. This can help children with autism feel calm and relaxed as they are doing something that they enjoy and know precisely what to expect and what is expected of them.
What happens during a LEGO-Based Therapy session?
During a LEGO-Based Therapy session, three or four children of similar ages and abilities work together to build a LEGO model following. (For some specific cases, or as starting point, the therapist and the child may adopt a role each, if a bigger group is not suitable.)
Each child takes on one of four specific roles to do this:
· The Engineer oversees reading and relaying the instructions. The Engineer must tell the Supplier what pieces to retrieve and tell the Builder how to build the model.
· The Supplier oversees finding the correct LEGO pieces. The Supplier must listen to the Engineer and figure out what piece to retrieve, and then given these pieces to the Builder.
· The Builder oversees physically building the model. The Builder must listen to instructions provided by the Engineer and receive the pieces that are retrieved by the Supplier.
· The Foreman makes sure everyone is doing what they need to do. They provide help to other roles when needed and look out for social challenges that may need problem-solving by the group.
Using this format provides each child with an opportunity to practice and develop a wide range of skills, including language skills (in both giving and receiving instructions) turn-taking, negotiating, sharing and collaborative social problem-solving. It also encourages children to reflect on their own actions and skills as well as give constructive feedback to their peers.